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Tag Archives: family meals

Winter dinners

I had a dinner idea for tonight, based on a vague memory of something delicious my friends next door cooked a few weeks ago when I invited myself and a few neighbors over to their place to be wined and dined. Well, it happened that way in the end, though I started out just inviting my geologist neighbor and a few other women nearby experiencing a bitterly cold weather snap to share a glass of wine at one of our houses. So the geologist professor and her biologist professor mate, their daughters, and a woman from a few houses down came together for a delicious dinner, with cider and wine. Turned out the professors weren’t well acquainted with the other woman, so that was cool that they all learned more about her, mainly her journey dealing with breast cancer.

I drank wine with the geologist while the biologist cooked, and we sat in the cozy glow of excellent company and food for several hours before bundling up again to walk home in the frosty dark. I am so fortunate to have such neighbors. Later she invited me to her book club, so I’m getting out a lot more than I used to.

I was hosting my kids–three out of the four not having disowned me and still finding family time enjoyable. This time we did it adult-style, with all helping chop, set, wash, mix and set out the food. No more me having the entire meal ready and them showing up just in time to eat, and me being ready for a nap already after all the fuss (unaccustomed, as I don’t cook every day and eat a lot of the same things). The meal did have pasta and smoked salmon like the previous one, but was otherwise completely different, as I left out the capers and added sauteed onions, garlic and sweet peppers, threw in some seasonings and stirred in cream and Parmesan. It turned out to be delicious.

Afterward my youngest son did most of the cleanup–he surprises me daily (sometimes more than once–also today he walked down to the store and along with his own purchases, had bought me my favorite chocolate bar). Then he brought out the Apples to Apples and we spend another nice hour, everyone making an effort to be amiable and not indulge in irritating habitual quirks or take offense at anything. Again, adult style.

My oldest son mentioned he listened to Lydia McCauley a lot lately, so we pulled her up on the audio and relaxed into “The Beauty of the Earth,” all three kids agreeing that it brought back happy memories of waking up to those songs and her other albums when they were kids. I hadn’t realized the impact of that. But come to think of it, I had the same exquisite awakenings as a kid when my dad would play classical music records on Saturday mornings. She being local, we decided to see if we could catch a performance together soon. Then I saw my youngest off to his early bedtime, and my two oldest to their cars with some leftovers, their mail, and my love.

 

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A new kind of personal training program

A new kind of personal training program

To keep fit and maintain my energy, I run a few miles as many days as I can. I was never much of a runner, never pushed myself to the point of the second wind, the rush of endorphins others report as being so addictive. But I’ve been inspired by others to push a bit harder, and I love the sense of growth that comes, as well as the satisfaction of consistency. In the summer I try to swim several times a week, and have discovered some fast twitch muscles I didn’t know I had. Makes me hope I might enjoy training for a triathlon in the next year or so, even though I’ve never enjoyed races (I prefer contests of strength and skill).

This last month I had to save my physical energy for a big floor refinishing project, and that, grueling a physical as it turned out to be, also brought additional strength and a sense of accomplishment. I hope that strength and endurance will transfer to swimming and running as I return to those forms of training. As, I am sure, and more properly so, the running and swimming gave me strength for useful labor.

But perhaps it’s time for some work in an area in which my habits have been slack, my motivation weak and easily quashed, and my metaphorical abs not supportive. This time, it won’t be mainly for myself. Yes, I mean, I am going into a training routine in homemaking.

The floor is done, the furnishings mostly back in place, and I am determined now, first of all, to prepare decent and regular meals. Not to say cook, since some of the best meals don’t require it. I’m starting with supper. We can coast at the other meals a while longer and have (whole grain) cereal, fruit, yoghurt and instant oatmeal for breakfast, and leftovers or self-prep sandwiches for lunch. Plus three of my children enjoy making waffles or pancakes occasionally, so we’re good there. A sit-down supper, on the other hand, we need, in order to to improve our protein and vegetable intake as well as reconnect and enjoy each other’s company. And review mealtime etiquette, I’ve already noticed. When possible, I’ll even try to make (or delegate) dessert. At least once a week, I’ll bake bread or something similar like I used to. All that requires planning, at least when the garden slows down and I have to rely on groceries more.

Second, I am determined to work harder to train and engage everyone in sharing household duties and responsibilities. On the fly at first, catching people at leaving dishes around, eating in their rooms, failing to put things away, leaving work for others. Nabbing helpers for meal prep, cleanup, fetch and carry, laundry and other necessary tasks.Then, back to attempting to organize specific responsibilities and keep everyone accountable. I will do my best to be encouraging but firm, appealing to the best in each family member.I regret to say that I was a poor household helper when I was young, but I think my parents should have taken me in hand on that account. I mightn’t have become such a housekeeping slacker and taken less time to adjust to my new life as a housewife. I hope I can do my children (and their future housemates) a service by this training and preparation.

Third, and here’s where I’ll need all the inspirational literature and motivational RSS feeds I can get, I will try to keep the house clean and orderly, even if others don’t care or aren’t willing or able to pitch in. Which is occasionally the case, you may be surprised to know. I have found that my mood and creativity are negatively impacted when things are in disarray. Since it looks like I will have the most time this season, and because I care about order and beauty, I’ll have to take responsibility for those in the main. In some ways I’m looking forward to that, as it means a few sewing, painting and furniture refinishing projects. At least projects, unlike general housecleaning, stay done. And part of this work will involve selling or giving away stuff we don’t need any more, which is liberating.

Finally, I will try to be more of a “yes” mom whenever I can. Mom, can we go shopping? Mom, will you help me make this? Mom, will you look over my essay? Can I play a computer game? Can we do something special? I’ll even try to surprise the children and my husband more often with something they enjoy or appreciate–a treat, a special time, an outing, a gift.

You see, it’s new year’s resolution time for me, which, I just realized, is appropriate. The Jewish new year is coming up (Sept 5-6, sunset to sunset). I’m not Jewish, but I do think fall is a better time for the new year to begin. I’ve always felt a new energy then. So l’Shanah Tovah, Good Year, to you.

 
 

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