Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My nemesis...dinner

One of the things that I feel passionately about is the food that I feed my family. I believe strongly in the importance of buying and preparing locally grown, organic foods whenever possible. And yet, we eat out so often that last night when coming back from a dance class with the kids, one of them asked what restaurant we were going to when I answered their "where are we going" query with "to have dinner." Part of it is that I don't plan ahead. I get to 6 o'clock at night before I even think about dinner many nights. At that point the kids are either busy playing or are getting cranky and it is often too late to make the dinner that I would like to feed myself and my family.

I like the idea of planning out our meals a week in advance so that I know what I am going to cook and I can be sure to have all of the right ingredients on hand. On the rare occasion that I've done this it has been fantastic. So what exactly is the problem here? I think that part of it is the paralysis caused by my perfectionist tendencies - if I can't do it just right and go all out, I don't do it at all. In the case of meal preparation, I would love to shop at the farmer's market every week to pick up seasonal produce and plan my menus based upon what is available locally. Unfortunately, between the demands and activities schedules of three children and two adults combined with the general lack of planning that goes into my days, I have only found the time ONCE in this entire season to make it to one of the local markets. Then there are the menus themselves, I have so many great cook books that I don't even know where to start when I think about planning meals for an entire week.

So I think that a good place to start is...well, anywhere. Rather than try for perfection, I'm going to commit to one baby step each day. I took a couple today by cooking a big breakfast for the kids (our regular weekend fare of chocolate chip pancakes and cream cheese scrambled eggs) instead of relying on my regular easy "meal" of cereal and by trying to get my recipe notebook in order. I got the idea for a recipe notebook from a friend and, when I use it effectively, it is a great tool in the kitchen. When I get a recipe from someone else or seek out a new recipe online that the family enjoys or when I find something in a magazine that I'd like to try out, I simply categorize it and put it in my notebook. This is where I keep most of our favorite recipes and is my "go to" resource for quick meal ideas. Unfortunately, I haven't kept up with its maintenance and it was overflowing with un-filed recipes to the point that the binder itself broke and random bits of paper fell out every time I pick it up. steps for now.

"It is not good enough for things to be planned - they still have to be done; for the intention to become a reality, energy has to be launched into operation.” --Walt Kelly

Monday, August 9, 2010

So, what's the point of this blog?

I'm a big fan of the blogosphere and have thought about starting my own blog a number of times over the past few years. That hasn't happened for several reasons. For one, other than a travel blog/journal that I kept for family and friends while living overseas for a few months, I've never felt like I had something different or of particular interest to offer anyone who might read what I've written. Actually, I have had some ideas that I thought might be worthwhile, but the other big thing is that I wasn't sure that I would actually maintain a blog. In the end, I've always chosen not to add yet another "thing" to my plate. What has changed now? Well, I'm still not sure that I have anything to offer/interest anyone else and I'm still not sure that I will post with any regularity (which is kind or ironic considering what the purpose of the blog will be...but I'm getting ahead of myself a bit).

So here's the thing, as I look around and take stock of my life - both day to day and in the big picture - I find that I approach it with a lot of good intentions not but not a lot of intention. Oh, I always have a lot of plans. I have many great recipes that I've been planning to try. And crafts, I have crafting ideas (and supplies!) galore. I have a list of places that I'd love to take the kids during our lazy days of summer. Where has all of this led me? To a huge stack of "ideas" pulled out of magazines, to an overflowing book shelf, and more things-that-I'd-like-to-try bookmarked on my computer than I can even begin to imagine tackling. To haphazard meals slapped together or take out, to a few craft projects in progress but nowhere near completed, and to days that I look back on and I don't know what exactly I've accomplished.

For the a little over a month now, I've been meeting a girlfriend at the gym around 5:30 in the morning to work out during the week (I'm getting to my point here, I promise!). I tried working out like this on my own earlier in the year - sometimes meeting up with a friend - and my efforts were not at all consistent. Upon reflection I realize that what is different now is that I have a specific goal in mind - we're going to run a half marathon in November - and I have someone to whom I feel accountable. Even if I don't particularly feel like getting out bed, I know that my friend is waiting for me and I feel compelled to get moving and meet up with her. I am ALWAYS glad that I have, regardless of the quality of any one particular work out - and the quality of my work outs is higher with her than when I am on my own.

All of that leads me to this blog. I want to approach my days with greater intention and I'm hoping that by putting some of those things that I would like to do into words and then putting them out there for others to read - even if that just turns out to be my mom (love you, Mom!) - I will not just intend to do things, but I will actually DO them. Don't get me wrong, I do a lot of great things for and with family and for myself, but I do them haphazardly. Yesterday is a perfect example of a typical day for me. I woke up early and met my work out buddy. I made myself a healthy green smoothie. I got my oldest child to camp on time. I took all three kids out to buy their school supplies and to fill three back packs for the YMCA's Bright Beginnings program. All good stuff, right? Well, I also only managed slapdash meals for my family. I waited so long to sign my two oldest kids up for fall soccer that they are wait listed in two different leagues and the only way to get them on a team may be to coach one. I not only never took a shower, but I stayed in my work out clothes all day long (a point that was driven home to me when I saw my work out pal last night while trying to sign my kids up for soccer). I started this blog post 24 hours ago. I went to bed after midnight and couldn't really tell you what I did last night. And my house? My house is beyond a disaster, y'all - you should see the mountain of clean laundry waiting to be folded in my bedroom. I do a lot of things that I'm proud of, but I plan poorly and find myself rushing around, getting cranky with my family, and generally not feeling very peaceful.

My goal isn't to accomplish more stuff - though I certainly hope to be more productive. I know that life is messy...especially life with children. My goal is to approach my days with intention. I want to clear mental and physical clutter out of my life. I want to spend more quality time with my family and friends. I want to be less "busy". I want to live the life I dream about. I hope that others can share their ideas and techniques that work well for them. And that all starts here, today.