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Posts Tagged ‘food’

My joy for today is birthday parties.

This past Saturday, we attended two children’s birthday parties.  We have been invited to at least one party every weekend this month.  For those of you that don’t have kids, do not be under the false assumption that we are very popular.  When you are a parent of school-age children, it is just part of the job description.  Sometimes these parties are great, sometimes they are not.  But they are always thrilling for our kids and we are always honored to celebrate a special moment in a friend’s life.

So far, we have only hosted one birthday party that included more than family for any of our four kids.  We are attempting to institute a 5, 10, 16 year old plan for big birthday parties.  Time will tell if we stick to that proposal.

In the meantime, we will enjoy entertaining our kids by celebrating other kid’s birthdays.  The cake, the presents, the games, the entertaining locations; free food, fun, entertainment, and time with friends, for both the kids and for us; it all makes for a pleasant way to spend some weekend time.

All of these parties also allows my kids the opportunity to do a lot of things that they do not normally get to experience.  At birthday parties, we have been to several farms, where we held chickens, rode horses, and got to take home freshly laid eggs, played laser tag, had gymnastics lessons, karate lessons, enjoyed bounce houses, many different pools, parks, and friend’s backyards, just to name a few.

Having kids can help you and hurt you when making friends.  At birthday parties, you have as many new friends as you choose to talk to, at least for the several hours of the engagement.  You are in it together, to have fun, to eat, to help your children with the new activities, to socialize, and to survive.  It can be overwhelming and exhausting, but as with so many aspects of having children, it is a simple, short-lived joy.  Twenty years from now, I might not miss navigating the crowds at Chuck E. Cheese, but I will miss seeing the overwhelming joy on my child’s face from a simple cupcake and goodie bag.

Enjoy your joys for today.

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My joy for today is eating.

Can’t most of us say that we enjoy eating?  Is that not the true American past time?  Every major event, holiday, or social gathering has food in a central role.  I have had a complicated relationship with food in the past.  Are there many women that would not say that?

A quick history…  I will spare you the Judy Blume novel-esque details of the unhealthy aspects of my weight and eating in years past.  Let’s just fast forward to the good parts.  Blessedly, the more unhealthy aspects of my thoughts on food and weight mostly ended when I had my first baby.  I simply did not have the time to focus on anything but this helpless being in front of me.  Gone were full hours at the gym.  Eating as little as possible in a day was no longer an option because I needed to breastfeed this precious little one, and not be faint during the day from only eating an apple.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, selfishness had to take a back seat.

When I first had to give up most (or should I more honestly say “some”) of my vanity, I decided to simply not care about food, and eat what I wanted, when I wanted.  I had always had difficulty recognizing when I was full, so I focused on learning that skill for a year or so.  I learned that it was best for me to not totally restrict any foods, and to not treat food as a reward.  Developing a healthy relationship with food has been a many year journey that has not ended.  Reading Michael Pollan’s book, “Food Rules,” helped me put some of my thoughts into more succinct sentences.  Even though I thoroughly dislike rules about food, the book summarizes what we all know is basic commons sense.

Directly from Mr. Pollan’s book, here are some of my favorites, with my translations in italics:

Better to pay the grocer than the doctor/Better to pay the farmer than the pharmacist.  (A ridiculous number of diseases are caused by unhealthy habits, especially unhealthy eating.)

Eat meat with less feet.  (Eat beef least, fish most.)

Eat food that will eventually rot (except honey).  (If it will last forever in your pantry, it’s probably not the best choice.)

If you’re not hungry enough to eat an apple, you’re not hungry.  (Oh my.)

Another set of rules the author talked about in “Food Rules” was based on another book by Engels and Kallen, called “The No S Diet.”  I was amazed to read about this plan, as I had just created this plan with my husband a few days earlier, and actually written it into a Word document.  Even though I thought I was being so clever with my plan for our healthier eating, there really is nothing new under the sun.   To summarize, the plan is basically “No snacks, no seconds, no sweets, except on days that begin with S.”  The only difference between my plan and Engels and Kallen’s plan was that I had not cut out snacks.  Although I am not the first person to think of it, it really is a great idea.  My favorite part is that you can do whatever the heck you want on Saturday and Sunday.  Dieting is only done on weekdays!  Save the weekends for the fun!  We started this plan to try to correct our horrible habit of eating in bed at night, while watching television.  I know, there really is nothing worse.  So now we only do it two nights a week.  It is an improvement and has (almost) taught us that eating half a pack of Oreos at 9 pm is not a necessity in order to go to sleep for the night.

I have by no means perfected this plan or my relationship with food.  It is best for me to keep this post short(er) because my number one rule about food and eating is not to have many rules.  For me, the more I think about what I am or am not eating, the more I obsess over certain foods or certain restrictions, and on and on.  It is just a slippery slope that is best for me to avoid.  Let’s keep it simple people.  Enjoy food. Eat when you are hungry.  Stop eating when you are full.  Eat real food.  And live it up on those days that start with S.

Enjoy your joys for today.

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My joy for today is my bread machine.

As I type, there is a loaf of homemade, from scratch, whole wheat egg bread baking in my kitchen.  And it took me about 7 minutes to prepare.  Those of you with bread machines will say, “Of course.”  Those of you without bread machines in your lives will say, “What?!”

I asked for a bread machine for the past few birthdays and Christmas holidays.  I think my family did not want to get it for me for two reasons.  One, it is a kitchen appliance and may not seem as fun or romantic as other gifts.  Two, I think my loved ones thought I would never actually use it.  However, this past Christmas was finally the time for the bread machine’s entrance into my world!  I unwrapped it Christmas morning, and since I started using it soon after New Year’s, there has not been more than a few days without fresh bread in my home.

Here is the list of breads I have made so far:  Basic White, Basic Whole Wheat, White Egg, Whole Wheat Egg, Italian Herb, Milk Bread, Raisin Cinnamon, Chocolate Chip, Cheese Garlic, Multigrain, and then repeats of many of the aforementioned.

I enjoy cooking at times but am absolutely spoiled by my Granny’s cooking meals for us.  Because of this, I really don’t cook very many dinners each week.  Making the bread is a way that I can feel like I am providing something nutritious and homemade for my family, with very little time commitment.  They can eat it with dinner, at breakfast, or as a snack, which is especially useful for attempting to control my six year old’s insatiable hunger.

Today’s joy is not as deep or profound as some of my others.  But it is very tasty.

Enjoy your joys for today.

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