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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Table for Five: Cheeburger Cheeburger

Last night, DD11 got her progress report, which showed all all A's! She also had two new test grades for Language Arts and Science, both of which were A's. To celebrate, we decided to drive up to Sarasota and go to Cheeburger Cheeburger.

Value

Hubby and I both opted for the Semi Serious size. We got one large order of cheese fries to split, which was DD11's whole meal, since she doesn't actually eat cheeseburgers, lol. She does love milkshakes, and she and I both got milkshakes as our meal beverage. DS3 got a chicken finger kid meal. We ended up spending $31 and change, which is really not much more than we'd spend at a fast food place. This is not a place we go to for the cheap prices, though.

rating: ***



Taste

For those who have never been to Cheeburger Cheeburger, all I can say is: go. Their burgers are made from 100% fresh angus beef, and they are delicious. You can choose from eight cheeses, including American, Swiss, feta, bleu, provolone, and pepperjack. You then choose your own toppings from a list of twenty-eight, including everything from lettuce and onions to pineapple and peanut butter. Add-ons include baconan, sauteed mushrooms and/or onions, and a grilled portobello, but these cost extra. You end up with a super personalized burger that is just to die for. Their beverage menu is just as extensive and customizable. I frequently get blackberry sweet tea, but last night I went with a bananas foster milkshake. DD11 had a chocolate-coconut milkshake, and Hubby had a vanilla diet Pepsi. Every single item we had was delicious, including the fresh-cut french fries with cheese sauce.

rating: *****


Family Friendly Atmosphere

Cheeburger Cheeburger is a fun place for families to eat. It is decorated like a 50's diner, with lots of neon and cutouts of 50's stars. There is a wall dedicated to pictures of people who ate the Famous Pounder. Kid's meals come in a souvenir cardboard classic car. In addition to the traditional kids menu with crayons, there are laminated trivia cards at the tables, so the time passes quickly for all age groups. The only caveat is that all seating is tables, and I typically feel more comfortable nursing in the privacy of a booth. Overall, though, this is one of the most fun restaurants around for our kids.

rating: ****

Overall

Yes, this is a restaurant we have been to before and will go to again. For us, this is a place that is worth the drive from North Port up to Sarasota, because the burgers are honestly that good. Even the milkshakes alone would make the trip worth it, to be honest. If you love classic diner food and you live in the SRQ area, Cheeburger Cheeburger should be on your short list of places to try.

rating:****

Monday, February 22, 2010

Table For Five: CiCi's Pizza

When we let DD11 choose a restaurant, one of the places that is always on her short list is CiCi's Pizza. Although she is tiny and never eats more than a plate full of food, for some reason she likes filling that plate herself at a buffet. Our closest CiCi's Pizza is the one in Port Charlotte, FL, so that is where we headed.

DS3 was asleep when we arrived, so we didn't want to buy him a meal in case he didn't wake up. We were hoping to be allowed in and then purchase a buffet for him if he did wake up. We were very happy to learn that since he is only three, we don't have to pay for him at all. This makes up for the fact that now that DD11 is eleven, we have to pay the adult price for her meal.

The buffet at CiCi's includes soups, pasta with either a marinara or alfredo-type sauce, salad, lots of pizza and several desserts. I always start with a salad to help keep from taking in too many calories, but of course for some people the whole point is to eat as much pizza as possible. There are all kinds of options on the pizza bar, but I am a boring person and mostly only eat cheese, pepperoni and sausage slices. Even with this limitation, I get to try lots of variety, as CiCi's has different crust styles served up to choose from. I had some thin, crispy sausage, regular cheese, and pan style pepperoni, all of which were good. CiCi's is not my favorite pizza, especially since New York style is my fave pizza type, but for "cheap pizza," it has very good flavor. I did get a bit adventurous and try CiCi's famous macaroni and cheese pizza, which my daughter loves. It was better than I expected for a kid-oriented menu item. The best part of going to CiCi's, though, in my opinion, is the dessert selection. The apple pie pizza and brownies are good, but the cinnamon rolls are warm, buttery, and to die for!

CiCi's is the kind of place that is designed for families to eat cheaply. There are menu items designed with kids in mind, like the mac & cheese pizza. There are also several arcade/crane style games and a wall of vending machines. The seating is mostly booths, although there are some tables. The seating is a bit crowded, so nursing a baby might be uncomfortable for many moms. Aesthetically, it is obvious that the emphasis is on value, although there are several TV's tuned to different stations so Dad can catch some sports while the kids watch SpongeBob. Overall, it is a welcoming environment for families.

We had a good time at CiCi's and ate well. This is a place we have been to before, and we will definitely be returning again.

Value: *****
Taste: ****
Family Friendly Atmosphere: ****
Overall: ****

disclosure

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Quotable Sunday: House vs. Home

This past week, our whole extended family has been house-hunting. I'll post more about this later, but for now, here are some quotes related to the idea of what makes a house a home.

A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body.
--Benjamin Franklin

A house is a home when it shelters the body and comforts the soul.
--Phillip Moffitt

It takes hands to build a house, but only hearts can build a home
--Author Unknown

A house is made of walls and beams; a home is built with love and dreams.
--Dr. William A Ward

We labor to make a house a home, then every time we're expecting visitors, we rush to turn it back into a house.
--Robert Brault

For me, I can feel at home with my family in a hotel room. If I lived alone though, I can't imagine that place feeling like anything other than a house. Obviously, everyone is different; what makes you feel at home?

Thanks to Toni at A Daily Dose of Toni for hosting Quotable Sunday

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Teen Mom, Take Two

My friend Toni over on A Daily Dose of Toni had a post today about MTV's 16 and Pregnant andTeen Mom. I have to say that her post was totally thought-provoking. You should really go read it before you see what I had to say about it.

Back? Okay. I think that one of the reasons this topic is so difficult in general is because it isn't black & white. We can all agree that teen pregnancy is not a "good thing," even those of us who were teen moms. On the other hand, let's face it; being a mom, if you're doing it right, is probably the most awesome thing ever. The reason shows like Teen Mom will probably never work at reducing teenage pregnancy is because babies are cool. They truly are. I know that when I talk about having my daughter at four days over nineteen, it's hard for me to make it sound like her birth was not one of the best things that ever happened to me. This is because it is one of the best things that ever happened to me. As a matter of fact, in 1999, it was the best thing that had ever happened to me.

I'm not alone in being guilty of this. Bristol Palin, who is trying to be the face of teen abstinence, has the same problem. She goes around telling people that being a single, teenage mom is hard. She's telling the truth. But whenever she's in a picture holding Tripp, she has the look of pure joy that any good mother has when they are holding their precious baby. We end up looking like hypocrites when we tell people not to do what we did, because we kind of are. For many teen moms, having a baby is difficult, and expensive, and inconvenient, and risky, and worth it.

Now, let me give my caveats. I, like Bristol and every other successful teen mom I've ever known (including my cousin who is doing a fabulous job raising a beautiful baby girl), had the support of a large and loving family. I was an older teen, since I got pregnant in college, not high school. I worked two jobs to support my baby as well as I could, and I did not accept welfare (other than CHIP insurance) or child support. I finished my college education, although it took me 5 years to finish a 4 year degree. My story is not typical of the young, uneducated teenage "welfare mom." The problem with stories like mine is that many lonely, immature fifteen year old girls will not realize that my story is not typical. They will see people like me, happy with the life I have chosen, and think the same fate awaits them if they get pregnant.

So, if we want to reduce teenage pregnancy, what kind of message do we need? "Having a baby isn't cool" just isn't entirely true. Sometimes, having a baby is very cool. "Having a baby is only cool when you're physically, financially, and emotionally ready" is more accurate, but doesn't really make a catchy slogan. If a teenager is not mature enough to have a baby, they certainly won't be mature enough to realize they aren't mature enough. In the end, I don't have any answers to the questions raised by Toni's blog, just more questions. But I think these are good questions that we should all be discussing in our society. Comments? Blog posts of your own, lol?