Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Household Task

Yesterday as I stood in the laundry room, folding warm clothes right out of the dryer, I felt very housewifely and much too responsible, but I did have to give myself a pat on the back. My characteristic move is to fling load on top of load onto the living room floor, let it settle for several days until my favorite TV show comes on, then sit on my butt and get to work, which is pretty efficient in its own way, for a number of reasons. Arguments can be made for either method, so I'm not committing myself to anything here. I'm flexible like that.

But one cringingly boring routine that has me sold is meal-planning. For years I fought it, reasoning that it would cramp my creativity since I frequently get inspired by new recipes in magazines, on the Food Network, on the internet or in a re-read cookbook, and I tend to act on my inspiration immediately because That is My Style. But with three kids, I've decided that sometimes creativity is overrated. Yes, survival mode played a large part of my conversion.

I plan our menu once a week, usually a Sunday night. First I take a quick inventory of what I already have in the freezer and pantry. I also check out the remaining life span of any produce. I grab a cookbook or two that I fancy, my cute little magnetic menu planner and my datebook. I sit down, swallow the nerd-like vibes I give myself, and get to work. Ironically, I find at this time I have the opportunity to introduce creativity into my meals. Planned creativity is actually nice, not restricting like I thought it would be. I get to browse through recipes and choose new and interesting ones that fit our budget and nutritional needs. If I'm really thinking ahead, I can incorporate grocery items that I know will be on sale for the week.

Two nights are always a given. We have pizza on a weekend night, and we have a breakfast meal another evening. That means I only have to scratch my head for five days, or fewer if we'll be having a date night or if something else is on the calendar.

Here I will insert some disclaimers: I cook a lot, but I like to cook. I actually love it. I don't like to do dishes, and I do get sick of the kitchen, but I have a high tolerance for endlessly long ingredient lists and from-scratch recipes. Our budget dictates some of this, and nutritional reasons also play a factor, but so do our taste buds. For instance, we prefer homemade pancakes to a purchased mix. They're much cheaper to make, I control what goes into them, and we like their flavor better. I also cook a lot because we don't eat out much, because we have three young children. I repeat, three little ankle-biters who don't always behave in socially acceptable ways.

I went through a spell where I planned out every meal we ate, including snacks, but that got a little too intense. I discovered I wasn't a great estimator of how many leftovers we would have, I got too irritated if things didn't go according to my plan, and I would get exhausted by all the prep work and then go into shut-down mode. Never mind how long it took to come up with those menus, it was a waste of time! Now I just plan the supper menu, and it feels appropriate. Not too controlling, not too difficult, just plain liberating.

I'm free from the 4:30 what's-for-supper panic!!

Now to that new pile of clean laundry on the floor...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Leather Cleaning?

Last night as I sunk into my retro, err, vintage green leather arm chair for some good ol' Winter Olympics, I noticed something that about unglued me.

Pen marks on the arm of the chair.

If it would have been on my ugly oak table, I wouldn't have cared. I've ruined that thing myself with scorch marks a time or two. But it wasn't. It's my beloved, comfortable, coveted-for-years green chair.

I haven't tried anything yet. I need some time to cool off and think through my strategy. I've got some saddle soap in the cleaning cupboard. I'll try an internet search. But I was wondering if anyone has had successful personal experience with this same issue?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Announcement of Great Importance

Surprise!!!! We're expecting a baby!!


Q: So, are you done?
A: Did you just ask me that?! You mean with having kids, right? I don't really know how to answer that. I love big families, but I'll just smile and say I really don't know!!

Q: You figured out what's causing this yet?
A: Umm, well, Grandma W. said all Grandpa had to do was hang his pants over the end of the bed and she ended up pregnant, but we don't have a footboard, so......

Q: When are you due? How far along are you?
A: Sometime around the beginning of September. Haven't been to the doctor yet. I think I'm around 10 weeks.

Q: How are you feeling?
A: Gross. I cannot stand the smell of coffee, and a whiff of chocolate chips just about sends me over the edge. I'm also taking lots of naps.

Q: Have you told your kids?
A: Yep! They are so excited about the baby in Mommy's tummy. Owen has plans to ride his bike to the hospital. Helen is ecstatic to be a big sister again. Jack doesn't know what we're talking about.

Q: How far apart are all your kids?
A: Owen: 24 months and 2 weeks: Helen: 19 1/2 months: Jack: probably about 26 months: new baby! We didn't want them too close in age, you know.

Q: Any names picked out?
A: We have a policy about spilling names! We'll tell you when the baby is born.

Q: What about your marathon plans?
A: Yeah, that! When I have the energy, my runs really make me feel great. I forget about my queasy stomach while I'm ticking off the miles. I'm doing the half marathon in Knoxville at the end of March; Jason is doing the whole and I'm so proud of him!

Q: What sustains you? You must be exhausted!
A: I am! I trust that God is sovereign, his plan for our family is good, and that this baby has a purpose. So far He has used our children to change us for the better, so there must be more change needed!