(image from The Library of Congress)
We’re not always good about sitting down together as a family for dinner. There. I’ve said it. And me a stay-at-home mom. Truth be told, the kids and I are ravenous by the time Tim gets home from work. Plus, there are at least two—sometimes three or four—nights a week when we have to head back into town around dinnertime for various activities. So dinner at our house usually consists of me standing on one side of the kitchen island like a short-order cook flinging hash to kids lined up on the other side. Most of whom have their noses in books or are jumping up every 30 seconds to check a game score on the computer. Not exactly an ideal situation.
Enter Laurie David and The Family Dinner. You can tell that Ms. David and her co-creator, Kirstin Uhrenholdt, poured their hearts into this book. It reminds me of a scrapbook, filled with a hodgepodge of advice, games, beautiful photos, blessings, table setting ideas, and recipes. These women paint such a lovely portrait of what could take place at the dinner table that they inspired me to tie on an apron and try a little harder. So far, I’ve made two of their recipes: Crunchy Chicken Schnitzel (which Laurie says you can call a Large Chicken Nugget) and Arroz con Pollo (rice with chicken). The schnitzel went over the best with Tim and the kids, while I loved the arroz con pollo. So colorful and it made the house smell delicious.
So, yes, the recipes were great. But the real challenge for us is in taking time to set the table, sit down together, and make meaningful conversation. I scoured the chapter called “Table Talk” and tried a few word games out on the kids. The favorite so far is “What Fruit, Animal, Flower, or Tree Am I?” We’ve also branched out on our own and asked Andrew and Lexie to name country capitals, Will to name state capitals, and Lily to name baby animals (lion=cub, etc.). Have I had to use coercion? Of course. Have I received pained looks? Goes without saying. But we’re hanging in there. And I’m sure they’ll thank me some day.
Now. The last thing any of us needs is more guilt piling on. Laurie herself says that your special ritual meal doesn’t have to be dinner. Breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, or tea could work just as well. I might even go so far as to say that on some days your ritual meal isn’t even a meal. Maybe it’s reading bedtime stories together (we do this nearly every night and not just so I can sit and knit), going to church, playing board games, exercising, or volunteering. The important thing is that you slow down a little and soak in the fact that you’re together.
- I’ve been waiting a year to make these awesome valentines. I’ll post photos if they turn out as cute as I’m hoping.
- Speaking of Valentine’s Day, check out this gorgeous heart cake. How does she do it?
- Have you ever tried making homemade yogurt? I haven’t, but if I do maybe I’ll try this.
- Day 17 of the Push-Up Challenge.