Why parenthood is like being a short order cook

originally posted 3/21/2012 –
I’ve seen the most inspiring thing, it’s something I think we can all try to emulate. Today, I saw the most amazing woman perform a complicated task under extreme pressure. My office building has a cafeteria of sorts. Not like the high school cafeteria you might be shuddering over, but more a gourmet cafeteria. Breakfasts consist of made-to-order omelette or eggs cooked the way you like (scrambled please) or even a pancake or two. Now imagine, if you can, the morning rush at 8am, when people are bolting from their car/bike/bus/train to their desks, stopping for breakfast on the way. Whoa! That’s allotta people, you might think. And I did.

Coffee before 9am is 25cents, including all the creme and sugar you can hold, refills are free. Normally, I hit the coffee when I arrive, when they open, at 7am. But, today I was running a little late. I saw a line of about 20 people waiting for their breakfast order, and I saw one lady working the grill and three, yes THREE, frying pans. She was awesome! Taking and remembering orders: sunny side up, hash brown no bacon, or omelette with ham, cheddar cheese and mushroom 2 slices of soft bacon. You name it, she was all over it. At one point, she had 2 orders on the griddle and 2 omelettes in the fry pans. AMAZING!!

Why do I mention this? Because I think this type of work should be required before you decide to have kids. This gives you a brief glimpse of the hard work involved in raising a quality human. Whether you are lucky enough to stay at home with your littles, or lucky enough to go to work, balancing the needs of your outside obligations, familial obligations, keeping the littles engaged and entertained while figuring out whose gonna clean the toilets is a time consuming job and not for the feint of heart. Parenthood also sounds a lot like this cooks job, but I imagine a live fire combat situation might run a close second…have you ever has to re-dress a screaming toddler after a poopy diaper explodes, while older kids are running around breaking things? My husband has, and I’m sure he prefers combat. It’s hard work, people don’t always tell a parent that. Pinterest is full of cute, yet deceptive baby images.

Imagine a stay at home parent, trying to figure out how to keep the child engaged and learning but hanging into your own sanity by a thread. Only a special breed can sit and demonstrate how to write the letter ‘A is for Apple’ so many times before wanting to stick their head in the electric oven, next to the fish sticks.

Then, imagine a parent who works outside the home. That parent, stressed by deadlines at the office has to rush home or to daycare with just enough time to brush teeth, read stories, kiss faces and tuck into bed. Lamenting the missed quality time with their kids and often working after bedtime.

Neither situation is ideal, and a balance must be maintained. (insert self mantra here) Eventually, the breakfast rush will be over, the child will learn how to write an A, and the work deadline will pass. But those pressures are quickly replaced by a lunch rush, the letter ‘B’ and a new project with a new deadline.

Don’t despair, enjoy the quiet time. Like Erika in the lunchroom, talk with your kids (customers), engage. Go to the park or the zoo or come up with a special thing that you like to share. (My boys and I like to dance around the house to music, or make our own music with an ear piercing assortment of keyboard, drum, train whistle or tamborine) Customers will leave and little boys/girls grow up. Make sure you bring excellence to the table with everything, teaching the ABC’s and filling your downtime. Your kids might not enjoy the ‘work’, but when foundations are laid well, the downtime is easier to enjoy. And THAT, the special time you take to learn about the person who is your child, THAT time they will remember forever!


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Hiking – our family’s new challenge

Its funny, as a mom who works outside the home,  my weekend time with my kids is precious.  My older two, the 5 year old twins, when reminded that tomorrow was Saturday and mommy would be home have different responses. One said “Yeah, mommy will be home”; while the other said very glumly “No TV! Oh man!”.  I like outdoor time, especially as the weather starts to warm up!  This summer, I think our challenge, in addition to the garden, will be going on 1 hike, volksmarch or other walk per month.

With the cost of gas and available time, I think I am only going to challenge myself to 1 hike a month, but since that is 1 hike more a month than last summer – I’m okay with that.  If you are interesting in challenging yourself this way too, here are some resources I found:

Family Friendly Hiking Guides

http://www.wta.org – This is a great website that has family friendly and expert hiking trails.  The website has tips and packing lists for day hikes as well as local excursions.

Save on gas and click at http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/map to bring up a map of your local area to show a list of available hikes. You can even filter the map for family friendly hikes.

AVA or the American Volksmarch Association page for clubs in Washington: http://www.ava.org/gen3/data/clubsbystate.asp?EVState=WA I loved to Volksmarch as a younger person and would love to pick it up again.  These are usually very nice, peaceful walks with no race or stress component.  This website will direct you to local clubs and the events they host in your area.

 

Lawn Games for Summer | TurfMutt

Turfmutt.com

TurfMuttLawn Games for Summer | TurfMutt Summer is rapidly approaching and while we always can find ways to get out of the house, errands or some other organized activity that might cost more than you really want.  As I recall, my favorite summertime activities was just goofing off in the yard or exploring a vacant lot. (now built up in houses) This site has an excerpt of a book full of games for you, if you’ve forgotten the yard games of your youth as I have.

Best Salad EVER!!

Best Salad Ever! (Glazed Pear & Candied Walnut Salad) I usually make this for my whole family, but feel free to monkey with the ingredients to make it uniquely yours!

  • 1 head butter lettuce, washed & torn
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, washed & torn
  • 3 med bartlett pears, not too soft
  • 3tbs sugar
  • 1/4C candied walnuts
  • 1/4C crumbled blue or Gorgonzola cheese
  • 1/4C craisens
  • 1/4C croutons
  • 1/2C olives

Slice pears into wedges and toss with sugar in a bowl. Pre-heat skillet and let pears sit while preparing other ingredients, e.g. washing/tearing lettuce etc. Toss the salad and place into bowls. Place the sliced pears in the hot skillet. Caramelize each side for approximately 3-5min per side, but DO NOT overcook the pears because they will become mushy. Be careful of over-filling the pan because you will steam, not caramelize the pears. As the pears are finished, take them out and set them on top of the salad in the bowls, creating a star shape on top. Super pretty and yummy to boot. I don’t use dressing, but if you like, you can top with a simple Italian or even blue cheese dressing.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Roasted Brussel Sprouts- Amazing!20120422-190121.jpg

I saw a picture of Roasted Brussel Sprouts on Pinterest (You can follow me here) but I was intrigued. I like to try new things, but my only experience with brussel sprouts was as soggy boiled or steamed nuggets of limp green grossness. Yes, I was not a fan of the my family’s traditional method of preparation. Then this picture. I was done for. I like roasted potatoes, so I thought I would give it a whirl…

*2lbs Brussel Sprouts (ends trimmed and QUARTERED)
*2tbs Olive Oil
*Kosher Salt & Black Pepper (coarse ground) to taste

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the ingredients together in a big bowl. Put on a rimmed cookie sheet and put in the oven on a lower rack setting. Time for 10-15 minutes and stir once so the sprouts don’t burn, cook for another 15min until well caramelized. Serve hot, these are really yummy and are easy to eat!