Saturday, February 21, 2015


my system - taping to the cabinet

I hit a serious funk. I went back to work this year and just sank into it. As a teacher, there is just Add to that little people waiting for you to pick them up and feed them and, ugh, things are crazy. I managed to keep it together for most of this year - just a few sniffles here and there when I felt quite stressed. But this past 4-day weekend with the kids was my breaking point. Teddy spiked a fever and Sam was just being Sam, which is especially needy in the wintertime, for whatever reason. Josh was out of town, and I just wasn't my best self. It all came to a head and I spent Tuesday evening, after the boys went to bed, bawling my eyes out. Catharsis.

Sam said, "This isn't junk food, right?"
Up to that point, what was building, was this growing resentment and negativity and all this blame I was putting on everyone and everything around me. After my cry, I recalled that saying by Someone Important and Sage about changing your reaction ... or the only thing you can control is your reaction. Like blaming The System and My Job or, the worst, My Kids, was getting me anywhere.
peppers before breadcrumbs

So I wrote "Be better" on our family whiteboard and just stopped yelling and feeling frustrated.

I also recommitted to dinner. See, the other thing is that I'm not doing what I enjoy most: writing and cooking and writing about cooking. And I am not enjoying my family. Basically, I wondered, "What am I doing that brings me joy?" And I came up with goose egg. And it felt lousy.

I checked a book out from the library, "Dinner: the playbook." I read the introduction in its entirety (!) and committed to doing the same sort of thing that the author did. That is: 30 days, 30 different homemade meals that I haven't made before. I eagerly went to my folders with magazine cutouts and my cookbooks and marked several recipes for the week. I made a shopping list. I organized the fridge. And I announced my plan to my husband because Family Dinner at 6:30 requires a family. He was in ... except for nights with meetings and calls. But that's okay; we'll take what we can get.

peppers with breacrumbs
Thursday, February 19, was the first night and it was a raging success. I was ready with everything right when Josh walked in the door. Sam was *so excited* to have Josh at the table with us. Teddy, well, he came to the table and looked at dinner! I overcooked the steak, but the meal was still great and Sam ate everything on his plate! AND! This morning Sam reiterated how much he enjoyed Family Dinner last night and how much he was looking forward to Friday's dinner! Whaaaaaaat? This just has to continue.

I don't know if there is a trick to sticking to this, though. I do know that my tendency is to get too big for my britches. So I have to keep the goals manageable. I also have to keep my eye on the prize, which is just having the family together. I have to have a backup plan that is in the spirit of the Family Dinner - so maybe ordering out from a place we haven't eaten at?? Dunno. What I do know is that I can't hit this point again. It wasn't certifiable. It wasn't commit-able. It was just lots of sobbing and puffy eyes in the morning. That's no fun.
overcooked steak with herb sauce and peppers with breadcrumbs