Category Archives: Children

What I Learned from Meal Planning

I got this idea in my head that meal planning is a grown-up thing to do. I remember as a kid having a weekly (or monthly??) menu posted on the fridge, and then I think that for the most part we actually followed that menu.

I have said before (loudly and frequently!) that the hardest, most tiring part of being a parent is being in charge of someone else’s meals every single day, particularly when that person is a 2-year-old who primarily wants pappunoni pizza, watermelon, meenut butter and jim, or cake. So when meal planning, I tried really hard to take this opinionated little guy into account, and plan things that we could all actually eat together.

We did one week of following a meal plan, and here’s what I learned:

You can’t actually shop for the whole week at once.

This was my original grand plan. I had a gift card to Safeway and I went and stocked up on basics and necessities, and I was really proud when all I paid was $18 over the gift card amount. But the truth is, you can’t always buy produce on Sunday that’s for eating on Friday. We lost a couple things that way, and I had to do a second trip partway through the week.

I guess I should have known that. I’m aware of how quickly produce goes. But I got so caught up in the money-saving, time-saving, health-conscious extravaganza that I was taking on that I didn’t really think about all the logistics.

Cooking meals each night takes a lot of time.

It was really nice to have the pressure off at 5pm when the “What’s for dinner” conversations started happening. But, here’s the thing: Usually, B eats at 6pm and we just hang out with him, and then Drew and I eat after B goes to bed. So not only was one of us spending a bunch of time each night preparing a more elaborate meal than usual…but that time was happening between 5-6pm, prime play time.

Also, Drew and I probably forage for dinner 2 or 3 days a week. For example, last night he had eggs and chicken-apple sausage, and I had a sandwich. These took 10 minutes to prepare concurrently. So just in general, cooking a family meal every night added a lot of time to the in-the-kitchen schedule.

…But it is nice to have leftovers.

It was really nice to have interesting leftovers for all of us to take for lunch the next day. B gets a lot of repeat meals, so being able to throw something new in there was probably nice for him, and made me feel like I was being a good parent. Also, since I went on a big grocery shopping trip, I wanted to be able to parlay that into lunches so I didn’t have to spend money during the week.

There’s actually an element of “planning.”

I didn’t realize how to manage the details. I just threw things on different days, and tried to space out all the chicken. But now I know, if you have two meals that use basil, maybe put them closer together so your basil doesn’t completely wilt between them. Or, if you know Survivor is on on Wednesday nights, don’t plan something elaborate that you’re going to have to be either cooking or cleaning up while the show is starting. And give yourself an “egg sandwich” night in the middle of the week, as a break from all the “shepherd’s pie” nights.

Sometimes something comes up.

There’s a lot more life getting in the way than I realized. When planning, I had to work around such things as Easter, dinners out with friends, and other events. We ended up doing this on the least busy week possible, so that we could really give it the old college try, but there always seems to be something coming up.

We also have a slight disadvantage in that Drew doesn’t get home before 5pm, and I am usually at least half an hour behind him. When I think about my parents or my friends, many of whom are teachers, I realize that they have a major heads up over us in that they are home earlier in the day. One friend of mine posted a recipe on Facebook, saying that it was super easy because you could just stick it in the oven and come back 2 hours later. While I do appreciate the ease of that, and plan on taking advantage of it on a weekend, I just don’t have 2 hours’ worth of cooking time on a weeknight.

Overall

It’s really nice to just have a plan in place. And to have that plan include vegetables, which are already in the fridge and ready to be cooked. Without a plan, we have nearly nightly conversations that go, “What do you want for dinner?” “I don’t know, do you have any feelings?” “I don’t know, I just want you to pick something.” “Well, I don’t know…” So going a week without having that conversation was really nice.

Some nights, B would eat what we were eating and it was like this magical curtain of “we’re doing it right!” fell around us. Some nights he was not interested at all and we had to settle for “oh well, we tried.”

I tried to make another weekly schedule but then it just kind of fell through. Maybe next week we can get back on the wagon, because I think overall it was beneficial, albeit tiring.

Help me out with next week, and leave me a comment with your favorite plan-in-advance weeknight meal! (Bonus points if a toddler will eat it.)

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Children, Drew, Family, Food, Humor, Nonfiction

Tahoe Winter 2015

There have been a handful of things keeping me super busy lately. One of them is that last weekend, Drew and I took B to Tahoe for a winter extravaganza. We rented a house with the Jameses and Molly, and spent 3 nights there hanging out.

We got there first, and while we were unloading the car, an 18-year-old kid pulled up in an SUV and said, “Hey, you guys moving in?” “Yes,” we said. “Okay, good to know. I’m going to make a phone call.” Then he got back into his car, talked on the phone for a minute, and then drove away. We were a little baffled – and concerned – but before I could call the rentals manager, she pulled up behind our car. She was kind of freaking out, and said that the cleaners thought we were coming the next day so they hadn’t finished. So she ran inside and cleaned the bathroom sinks and the stovetop. So that was kind of weird.

It’s not very snowy in Tahoe right now, but we did have an ice patch of our very own in a shady spot of the yard.

IMG_8972

Actually, it was probably good that the roads were basically clear so the drive was quick and safe, and the boys could run around outside in every free 15 minutes to keep them from going crazy.

The first day we went into Tahoe City where there was a playground near the beach. We went to the water’s edge, where there was about 6 feet of ice, and taught the boys to throw rocks (um…not our brightest moment) to break the ice. B brought a rock home with him, which I keep forgetting about, but I’m pretty sure is still in the diaper bag.

IMG_8997

IMG_9040The second day, we went up to Mount Rose to find some snow – it was still pretty icy, but Drew could pull B around on the sled we brought him. We also saw one stupid teenage boy after another sled down a hill and very nearly go face-first into a tree. Literally. Also, a woman went down another hill on an inner tube, jumped a little hill, and was 2 seconds away from shooting out into the road – if her inner tube hadn’t suddenly popped. She was laughing. We were all worried that we were about to see someone – tree guys or inner tube girl – get really hurt.

Luckily no one did. And we slipped and slid around on the ice until it started to get too dark.

IMG_9167

On our drive back to the house, we realized that Mount Rose is in Nevada – B’s first trip out of state!

The only downside to the trip was a slight fever that the boys seemed to be passing back and forth. Neither was down for long, but we were dosing them both with Tylenol all weekend. On our third night, B was up literally every 45 minutes, actually crying. Not just whimpering. I’m pretty sure neither Drew nor I slept more than 2 hours altogether. It was one of the worst nights of my life, especially since we weren’t sure what the problem was. He wasn’t feverish all night – just upset.

Finally at 5am, after many times of being up, of shhhhing him, of asking what was wrong, Drew brought him into our bed and we both sat there going, “What’s wrong? What do you need?” He finally croaked out “Wawar!” Water?? I felt like such an idiot. Was he just dehydrated all night? Could we have solved this 8 hours ago?

I think we were all suffering from the altitude a little bit. My skin and my lips were so chapped – and I think we were all dehydrated. Luckily a couple days back at sea level and we’re all back to normal.

It was a classic case of “I had so much fun! And I’m SO GLAD to be home!”

(And fun fact: I just found out we’re getting our whole security deposit back – so that’s nice! I’m always a little nervous about that.)

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Awesome, Beauty, Children, Drew, Friends, Nature, Travel

Parenting is a ball

Tonight we went and had dinner with Drew’s parents, his brother, and his brother’s fiancee. We were having a great time, powering through the fact that our little munchkin apparently skipped his nap today. He was a little whiny during dinner, but when the cake came out (our nearly-sister-in-law’s birthday was this weekend), B perked up and ate a whole (small) piece of cake with an adult fork. How cute!

He chased the dogs around and played with toys and looked at the fish in the pond. Everything was going so great.

Then he picked up a piece of pottery (which I suspected he thought was a ball, and would bounce) and he hurled it onto the floor, where it shattered. I attempted a time out (always tricky at someone else’s house) while Drew cleaned up. Then we got him out of there.

Once he knew he was in trouble, he remembered how tired he was, and was mad we were leaving his grandparents behind, so he was off-and-on upset all the way home and then into pajamas and then into bed. (Where he immediately fell asleep. So…)

I went to take a shower, and I wanted to do something nice for Drew, so I tried to use B’s bath crayons to write a nice, loving note on the shower wall. I used orange because it’s what was in there. I’m glad it wasn’t red.

Because no matter how hard I tried to smoosh the crayon into the wall so it would stay there, it slooooowlyyyy ran down the wall in streaks, making the shower look like a murder scene. Like if the cast of Real Housewives got murdered there.

So now there’s a drippy, orange love message on our shower wall, and I just hope he sees it soon enough before it fades into smeary nothingness.

Some days you win, some days not so much.

Leave a comment

Filed under Children, Drew, Family, Memoir, Nonfiction, Not awesome

Disney Project 2014: A Look Back

disney retrospective

Well, once again, I have neglected to complete most of my new year’s resolutions for 2014. But that’s okay! Because one of the few we DID accomplish was Disney Project 2014.

A year is a long time. You can see in the pictures how much B has grown. And while I would say that 15-27 months old is maybe a little young to try this project (if you were thinking about tackling it yourself), there were movies he enjoyed. It’s all about familiarity, I think. This weekend, we had no “to-watch” Disney movie, so we watched Monsters University, because he’s semi-familiar with the characters. It was more fun than I remember watching Snow White was (a whole year ago).

My favorites remain (in chronological order):

Sleeping Beauty
Lady and the Tramp
The Little Mermaid
Beauty and the Beast
Frozen (I would never have said this 6 months ago. But it’s a part of me now.)

Least favorites from this year:

Saludos Amigos/The Three Caballeros
Dinosaur
Chicken Little
Bolt
Winnie the Pooh (2011)

Surprise! I actually like this:

Melody Time
Home on the Range
Meet the Robinsons

I’ve been trying to figure out what I learned from this experience. I could hold up the Disney protagonist values: honesty, loyalty, dedication, goodness. I could also point out that I think there is merit in the early Disney films, even if some of the things in them have since become politically incorrect, and I think we should not always judge things made in the 1940s under 2014 standards. Or maybe I could talk about the state of Disney princesses…from Snow White to Anna, a lot has changed about these women and their behavior and the roles they play in their own stories. (For that matter, a lot has changed about Disney princes, and their behavior, and their roles.)

I am so grateful to have the shared Disney childhood experience with Drew (even if we remember some movies with differing levels of fondness). I am also grateful to be passing on these movies and experiences to B. I can’t wait until he’s a little older and can point out plot holes we’ve missed and make jokes with us.

Thank you, Disney! Cheers, 2014! Now what to watch next?

 

2 Comments

Filed under Awesome, Children, Drew, Endings, Memoir, Movies, Sentiment

Disney Project 2014: Frozen!!!

MOVIE: FROZEN

RELEASE YEAR: 2013

I HAVE TO WRITE IN ALL CAPS BECAUSE I AM SO EXCITED – I CANNOT BELIEVE – WE FINISHED OUR DISNEY PROJECT!

Ok that’s enough.

Although we watched Frozen about 60 times this year, we watched it one more special time on Christmas morning to finish out Disney Project 2014. It was just as good as always! I will always have a special place in my heart for Frozen and Elsa and Anna and Sven and Kristoff and Olaf and the trolls (not really the trolls) and For the First Time in Forever and Let It Go and the ending scene where Elsa says “You sacrificed yourself for me?” and Anna says “I love you” awwwwwww. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and Celebrate Frozen and YAY FOR ACCOMPLISHING YEAR-LONG OBJECTIVES!

IMG_8509edit

 

1 Comment

Filed under Awesome, Children, Drew, Endings, Holidays, Love, Memoir, Movies, Sentiment

Disney Project 2014: Wreck-It Ralph

Movie: Wreck-It Ralph

Release year: 2012

Neither Drew nor I had seen this one yet, but as we find (most) Disney movies delightful, and this one has a charming cast, I was excited to see it finally. And I wasn’t disappointed! It’s a clever story with lots of interesting details, about all the characters in arcade video games, and their lives outside the games. They all flow into and out of the “Game Central Station,” a surge protector that they’re all plugged into. There are some homeless game characters there, like Q*bert. Wreck-It Ralph is a “villain” character (but a totally nice guy), voiced by John C. Reilly, who sets out to become a hero, so that people will like him and want to hang out with him.

It’s full of little twists and turns that we both really enjoyed, and I thought the ending was good without being too cheesy. I’m officially a Wreck-It Ralph fan. =)

Alas, this is the best picture I could get, as B was especially active for this one.

IMG_8530Also, don’t stare too long at that duck, or it’ll freak you out.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Children, Drew, Movies

Disney Project 2014: Winnie the Pooh

Movie: Winnie the Pooh

Release year: 2011

That’s right. They did another one of these movies, because we need more Winnie the Pooh than just the “Many Adventures of” from 1977.

No we don’t! This one doesn’t have the same voices, and so everyone sounds a little off. The storyline is fine – Eeyore loses his tail, so they have a contest to see who can find a replacement – but then you find out at the end that OWL had the tail the whole time and was using it as a pull for his doorbell! What even is that?? That’s brutal and disgusting! Owl also tried to divert the blame from himself early on, by inventing a terrible monster called the Backson that comes and messes with you. Jeez, Owl. What’s your problem?!

At least it’s only an hour long? Sorry if you like Winnie and the gang – they’ve just never been my favorites. And this Winnie revamp is just unnecessary…

IMG_8385

 

Tigger here, Tigger there…

2 Comments

Filed under Children, Movies