houghts on Family Dinner
Growing up in my family, there was a lot of dysfunction however one thing we did do well was the family dinner. Every night dinner was served a roughly the same time and took place around a table. There was no making separate meals for everyone, you ate pretty much what was put in front of you and you liked it. Okay so maybe you did not always like it (peas…nasty…spinach, very nasty…liver …gag me…) I learned very early to hide the foods I did not like inside my mashed potatoes and to love things like mayonnaise, ,mustard and apple sauce! When it came to my own kids, however I failed to follow this family ritual. We were too busy (read often times too lazy) to get a family dinner organized. I spent many a night passing through drive thru windows, eating a meal on the run. Yeah I am not proud to admit that fact, but I am giving myself a bit of a break here. i will explain a little further down. I have discovered thefamilydinnerproject.org after reading articles about the importance of eating as a family on the well-being and development of children. There are studies that suggest that kids who eat dinner at least 3 times per week with their families are less likely to partake in risky behaviors such as drug and alcohol consumption than kids who do not. Yeah I got a SERIOUS case of the guilts after this. I kept trying to find ways to sneak in a dinner here and there, and let me tell you it is not an easy task to accomplish. We are a busy family with jobs, school ( one school is 45 minutes minimum each way in the car..longer if there is traffic) activities, you name it how was I going to find the time to prepare a meal and have everyone sit down and eat together? SO what I found was 1 recipe that is fairly simple to prepare (a french bistro style chicken with potatoes that roast right along with the chicken) and it turned into a family favorite. I said twice a month i will prepare “Monday night chicken” and more often than not we eat it on Sunday, but we are together and that is what counts. After following several blogs on the family dinner project’s site, it occurred to me that all along we have had a family meal albeit in a slightly dysfunctional and unconventional manner. We have a fabulous french patisserie not far from where we live and when the kids were younger, I would go and get a baguette , some grapes and some cheese , then we would get French Macaroons for my gluten-free daughter and fabulous petit fours for everyone else..when we got home I spread a blanket out on the front lawn and make a picnic for my kids and their friends. we played games and chatted and had a great time just being together. Sharing food and conversation is what a family dinner is all about..but what about the rest of the time..well I did mention that we are busy..but we have made time all along is what I realize. The girls are Irish dancers and their classes and competitions often take us to different states and require a lot of time in the car, school it is a 45 minute ride each way (thankfully there is a bus for the morning part of the commute) and we have discovered a way to carve out family meal time during our commute. Our carpool has become our family, with the best carpool kid I wish for. Conversations during our commute have run the range of topics from what is going on at school , classes and teachers that the girls enjoy or find a challenge , dramatics between classmates, and quite a few crazy relative stories that keep us in stitches. We almost always stop for a snack or a small meal that only enhances the conversation. I have learned that my role in these conversations is to primarily listen, laugh and encourage the girls to find a way to resolve their issues. I learn more in those 45 minutes than I could in hours of face to face time. This must be working because the kids are great kids, focussed on their studies, no dating (although they have their “bus boyfriends” you know the ones they stare at and have zero courage to talk to because they go to different schools) no partying (not one of them has the time) and they are genuinely nice kids. We may not sit at a table and share a meal most nights but we share food and conversation along the way and for that I am very honored to be a part of their lives and this experience.
Dear Child of Mine,
As your mother starts to enter her twilight years and you are considering what nursing home to dump me in…just remember 2 words…CAKE POPS and let your conscience be your guide….
I saw this post on my dashboard, unfinished and let’s be honest I have no idea where I was really going with this..but it gave me a huge chuckle ! here is the inspiration for the above mentioned note to my child…My youngest daughter goes to a very small private school and birthdays are a big deal. There is a tradition at the school where every kid draws the name of one of her classmates and is responsible for bringing in a treat for said young lady’s special day. Well my daughter’s turn came up in May and she had this brilliant idea that we could make cake pops…Sounds easy enough right? HAHAHAHAHAHHAHA…NO cake pops are anything but easy. ..Cake pops while yummy and cute are simply “evil”
First of all, there is a lot stuff that you need to make these cute little cake creations. Things like a cake pop maker ($40 at Kohl’s before the Kohl’s cash kicks in) lollipop sticks, pop bags, ties for said pop bags, a cake pop stand, oh and cake mix (I am not that good of a baker) , frosting, sprinkles, decorations, your sanity and patience for starters. Let’s just say that when this bright idea of making cake pops came to light, I was in possession of none of the above. Oh and did I mention it was also mother’s day?
Making the cake batter was the least of my troubles, the real troubles included trying to get the cake (once baked) to stay on the stick and how to frost the little suckers…this adventure ended up at one point (okay 10:00 pm) with me wandering into Wal-Mart, half delirious from being so tired, getting more supplies because we ran out of the bags and the sticks..oh yeah and frosting. After I got home at 11, I did a web search and found out that cake pops need to be frozen because what you do to frost them is to heat up the frosting and make it liquid and dipping frozen cake in to warm liquid frosting makes the process a bit easier..also adding sprinkles to wet frosting is a good idea (and YES my delirious self found this last fact out the very hard way..who knows how demented these little cakes looked, but at 1 am with a 5:30 am wake up call looming they looked darn good to me.
I will report that the cake pops were very successful and the birthday girl was pleased as were the classmates…I on the other hand was cleaning up frosting for days and decided that this is one story that is getting stored and used as dirt somewhere down the road