Simplemama

Charitable Giving, Corruption, and Trust

Beggar woman and child

Photo courtesy: Katherine Hitt

Number 2 of my 7 Long Takes.

Charity and Giving. 

want to help others, really I do. It’s part of being a good Catholic and a good person. But I get overwhelmed by it. There are soooo many who are in need of food, clothes, shelter, education, money for this and that. I see it all and all I can do is shut the door and stuff all the charity mailings away and hope maybe it’ll all go away on its own. 

But it won’t. The poor will always be here.

So my cynical self can’t help thinking – What’s the point? Why even bother helping if poverty will always be here? People will continue making bad choices that will steer them down a hard and impoverished life. Who am I to think I could stop that? 

And then there’s the problem of Trust. How do you know they aren’t just taking advantage of me or that they won’t take your money and drink it all away at the nearest liquor store or for their next fix? 

I once read a horrible story that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about. You know those beggar women who sit with the babies waiting for people to walk by and drop a few coins in the jar next to her? Most people, who have any amount of kindness in their hearts, would be moved by pity for this poor woman and her baby. They’d drop a few coins in and walk off smiling about how they just helped a mother and her child. 

But what if this woman was part of a large organized crime group? What if the leader of the gang collected all her money at the end of the day, sparing a few pennies and a piece of moldy bread for the woman, and keeping the rest for himself and his elaborate house and shiny car?

And what if the baby stayed still all day, not because he was sleeping, but because he’d been drugged with heroin to stay still and quiet? And even if the baby died (which many do), the woman had to stay there all day holding the baby until she’d “worked” her whole shift? 

This is a true story. I’m not making it up. I wish I were and couldn’t believe it when I first read it. It’s like a different kind of prostitution.

So what do you do about things like this? The author of the article I’d read about this from suggested we stop giving to these beggars all together. Because we weren’t really helping them. We were only making ourselves feel good about trying to help someone. But the money actually goes to the criminals. 

I suppose this is why it’s best to give to large charity organizations who have policies and standards in play so they can give to people who are legit. But even then, there are stories of mass corruption that make me want to throw my hands up in the air.

It’s things like that one example and so many other corruption stores I’ve heard that make me hold my money tighter. And I don’t think this is right. But I also don’t think it’s right to hand out my money to just anyone either. 

Blerg.

We have an opportunity to make a big difference in a new friend’s life and for her family but we are hesitant because of these trust issues. Maybe I should just give without thinking so much and let God sort out how it gets used?

How you do navigate charity and corruption and trust?

Tornado Toddlers and Legos, Help Me!

Last Friday, I sat down to do a 7 Quick Takes post, except, as you all know, it’s nearly impossible for me to write anything short and “Quick”. Once my fingers hit the keyboard, my brain goes into overdrive and the words come zooming out.

So the next few posts will be a condensed version of what would have been a 7 LONG Takes post. Most of these posts will be random and maybe unconnected but that’s the fun of blogging right?

Let’s start with – Legos.

They’ll be the end of me for sure.

In theory, I think Legos are great. They help kids learn fine motor skills and show them how to pay attention to small details while inspiring creativity and imaginative play. In theory. I think it would work really well if we only had one child, or even two older children who could play alongside each other nicely without leaving random Lego pieces all over the place.

This is what Lego playing is supposed to be like.

Which is as a believable as this happening:

This is what it actually looks like.

My 8 and 5 year-olds were finally starting to get into playing with the Legos. It gets tricky when you throw a human tornado into the mix who takes great pleasure in going into the Lego room and seeing if he can cover the whole floor with as many teeny tiny Legos pieces as he can. My poor older sons don’t even want to play with them anymore because they got so tired of their annoying little brother coming in and destroying everything they made.

I thought I had found a solution when we put all the Legos into a separate room with a baby-proof door knob.

Nope.

He discovered it and cried his cute little head off whenever his brothers would go in there and shut the door in his face, hoarding all the Lego fun to themselves. So I started letting him in to play every now and then while someone could be in there with him to keep most of the Legos out of his reach.

But we all now how the saying goes, If you give a Todder one Lego piece, he’s only going to demand for the another part to go with it.

And now he wants to go in there all.the.time. He grabs my finger and drags me toward the basement room saying, Degos, mama? Pay Degos?

He could probably spend the whole day in the Lego room, which is really pretty impressive since he’s only 2 and a half but already seems to have an engineer mind ready to build.

The problem is that the Lego room is also my husband’s “office” and my “sewing” room. Though I’m not sure why I still call it that since I haven’t touched the machine for who knows how long. It’s not really the safest place to leave a toddler unattended. Not so much for the sake of the toddler’s safety but for our own important and expensive-to-fix equipment we keep in there, not to mention all cords and electrical things in there.

Plus the little tornado toddler likes to get up onto the Lego table and play (which is pretty darn cute actually). Eventually, he either falls or screams at me to help him get down.

I took this picture after I’d already cleared off most of the table in a rage of frustration last week.

Sigh.

In the end, one of two things happen.

1. I reach my breaking point and go into rage and frantically scoop all the Legos away into a box and dump it in the trash put it out of reach.

2. I end up giving in and just letting him have his way in the Lego room just so I don’t have to deal with him crying and so I can have “extra time” to get a lot of unimportant things done.

WEAK? Yes.

I want to foster his creativity but maybe I’m just too much of a clutter-phobe?

This week, my goal is to think up some sort of a solution. A way to give him free access to some Legos without letting the Legos have free range over our house and a way to let the older kids make their own creations without worrying about him destroying all their work.

Any suggestions? Please tell me there is a solution?

JUICY Lemon & Herb Roast Chicken

This is a story about chicken. And a recipe for your reading reward.

Yes, that’s right, of the poultry variety.

Juicy Lemon and Herb Roast Chicken

As a young girl, I loved the smell and taste of delicious, buttery, roast chicken. When we went to the grocery store, I’d practically beg my mom to walk over by the deli area just so I could catch a whiff of their chickens turning around in the oven.

Lucky for me, my dad also shared this love for rotisserie and roast chicken. Whenever my mom wasn’t home or he felt like “making dinner”, he’d bring home a nice juicy chicken from the store, much to the joy of my salivating taste buds. I always called the drumstick and woe to anyone who tried taking it from me.

Once I was married and making meals of my own, I dreamed of roasting my own bird just like the ones in the store. To my great dismay – and to my poor husband’s and family’s – I just couldn’t quite figure out how to cook a whole fryer, or any type of chicken, without it coming out as dry and bland as a piece of chewy cardboard. So I gave up and have stuck to beef or frozen prepared chicken.

But then my friend, Mary of the hilariously down-to-earth Mary Big Hair blog, practically bribed me to help redesign her blog with free chickens that her and her husband and my other friends raised. As if she had to even ask! I was giddy with excitement and could sit and redesign blogs all day if only I didn’t have to feed people.

So, now I had two whole headless, plucked chickens to somehow turn into something edible. The sight of a whole fryer chicken had become so foreign in our house that every time someone opened the freezer they’d ask, “Why are there turkeys in our freezer?”

I knew I needed to do something with them – they couldn’t stay in our freezer forever, right? But I was too intimated given my failed past attempts with poultry cooking.

However, last night a miracle occurred. After a little over twelve years as domesticated “housewife”, I finally graduated to Master Housewife status and roasted a chicken successfuly!

Thanks to my friend, Elizabeth, for the recipe she shared by our mutual friends over on their old Ideas.Folk.Work blog, I now know how to properly roast a chicken.

There are two crucial lessons I learned that lead to my successful juicy roast chicken.

1. Apparently it’s all in the brine.

2. Roasting in the oven vs. the crockpot is way better.

Ok, blah, blah, blah. Here is the amazingly wonderful but super easy - even for me –

Juicy Lemon and Herb Roast Chicken

First, here is how you need to brine the chicken. (I did this the night before cooking.)

Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Dissolve 1 c. salt in 4 quarts water, or enough to cover the chicken. Submerge the chicken in the brine, covering completely, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or up to 8 hours. Remove from brine and pat dry.

chicken in a pot

Seeing a chicken in a pot of water on my counter like this made me feel like a real life domesticated woman. ;)

Ingredients for Roasting the Chicken after brining

¼ c. extra-virgin olive oil (I used butter because I can’t stand olive oil.)

1 4-5 lb. roasting chicken, brined

5 cloves minced garlic 1 lemon

1 bunch fresh rosemary Salt and pepper (I used dried basil since that’s all I had.)

Directions for after you Brine. Be sure to read the directions in their entirety. Total cooking time is 1 HOUR and 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450. Rub the olive oil and 3 of the minced garlic cloves over the outside of the chicken. Cut the lemon in half, squeeze half over the outside, and then place inside the cavity of the chicken with the rosemary and remaining garlic. Sprinkle the bird with salt and pepper. Place chicken in a heavy roasting pan and bake for 30 minutes. Then turn oven down to 350 and bake for an additional hour, or until done.

Check to make sure the bottom is cooked through and then bring it out of the oven and stand back and admire your beautiful roast chicken. Lastly, eat and enjoy every single piece of juicy, buttery, melt-in-your mouth chicken.

roasted chicken

A few notes:

In my usual state of haste and distraction, I only read “bake for 30 minutes”, so dinner took a little longer than I’d originally planned. I underlined and italicized the part about baking it for an additional hour to spare you from the same fate.

Because of my inability to read through the directions all the way, we ate something else for dinner earlier in the evening. But then, when it was done, suddenly everyone was hungry again so we all tried some and it took all our efforts not to sit there and eat the whole thing up like a bunch of greedy barbarians.

We ate most of the rest tonight for dinner, though it wasn’t as good as when it first came out, it was still pretty good. I served it up with some of the Pioneer Woman’s heavenly mashed potatoes.

This picture makes it look like I hardly ate any. See that bowl of mashed potatoes in the background? It’s most all gone now. They totally stole the chicken’s glory.

And there you have it, folks. The story of how I finally mastered the chicken.

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