A few weeks into this new school year full of so many changes, and we're finding our groove. Or rather, I've reached the point in the experience where I'm fine tuning and tweaking things here and there, knowing now a few things that work and some that don't work for my crew and all the various transitions that are happening. I like this part of parenting. I dare say this is where I can really help things, make it all smoother and ultimately more peaceful. Problem solving is fun!
First and foremost, what I thought was an early bedtime was actually not early enough. We've all shifted it back a bit, getting plenty of rest being key to happiness in the morning. We leave early, headed in so many different directions, and having rested bodies and minds sure does make that morning a lot more gentle. Okay, really all this talk of sleep? It's about Steve and I getting enough rest so that we're able to get up and at it, navigating everyone else! But I tell the kids it's for them too, and I really do believe that.
Lunches! I'm finding my stride, most definitely based on getting everything ready the night before. All seven lunches packed and in the fridge so that in the morning I just need to pull them out, add a cold pack if necessary,and line them up on the table for heading out the door. Some of you have mentioned that I should have my kiddos - especially the big ones - making their own lunches. Great idea! But then....honestly, it makes my job a lot more difficult if there are seven different people in the same space at the same time trying to get the last of the favorite kind of cheese they want for their sandwich. Or whatever the case may be. Gah! Assembly line style works better for me, makes less of a mess, and creates fewer dirty dishes. And there are plenty of other household tasks that my kids take on that are so helpful in making it all work (like washing those dishes!).
I'm trying to ease everyone into soup season - it's such a fundamental part of my winter cooking. I don't have picky eaters, I'm so grateful. But I haven't puzzled out lunch soup yet. Everyone eats soup for dinner quite happily all winter long, but for some reason, the second I pour it in a thermos and give it to them for lunch......I might as well just hand it back to myself at the end of the day. Still full. And hungry bellies to boot. I'm still sorting that one out, but I think it has something to do with the temperature of it at lunchtime, as only two of my kids have access to heating up their food at lunch. I have a variety of thermoses, some great and some perhaps not so great. I think the Hydroflask might be the answer (since I use one for me tea and it's still hot at lunch if I forget about it!), instead of some of the others I have that just don't keep things as hot as they should. I've got some soup/container experimenting to do. A puzzle to solve.
Two more food things. Yes, that's all I think about and talk about right now, please forgive me. But making a couple of frittatas on Sundays has been so helpful in the breakfast hours, just being able to pull a slice or two out to eat either quickly as one runs out the door, or slowly at the kitchen table with me, watching the flurry of those running late, if you wake your teen self up early enough to do so. Ahem. Oh and Pesto Pasta! Here's a well known fact at my house: I don't like pasta. Even before celiac, it was reserved for nights when I wasn't home. Of course it's the favorite of every Soule I know. And though I wouldn't think room temperature pasta would be a delicious lunch, it's what everyone wants. And couldn't be easier really, except for the fact that the amount of fresh basil and pine nuts required to make pesto for a family of seven many days a week is...well, a bit much. Last week I swapped out the less expensive walnuts for the pinenuts and no one said a thing. This week, instead of basil, I used carrot tops (of which I have an abundance of in the garden, the basil already in the freezer) with just a little bit of basil. Same story - empty lunches and full bellies! Hooray!
And one more perhaps not terribly exciting but oh so essential discovery I've had in recent weeks. Car entertainment. Our drives to school(s) and work are not short, unfortunately. The morning can bring out tired, short tempers. Depending on the general mood I'm feeling in the air (car), the mornings have been full of either audiobooks (I'm not sure how, but my kids have listened to all the Penderwicks so many times over that I forget that some of the characters aren't actually people we know) or a classical music rotation. It's gotta stay mellow in the morning, that's my goal. And then the afternoon? Oh the afternoon is for sure when tiredness comes in and everyone is reunited and sometimes that's less than peaceful, if only amongst the youngest two. It's a bummer to sit in the car for a while after such a day at school, I get that. In addition to encouraging FOOD at this hour, we've been finding projects to work on too. Last week, I bought everyone a new notebook and set of new colored pencils (nothing better than new art supplies) that LIVE in the car. A little bit of beeswax added for Annabel, some playing cards for Harper, and a book for Ada....and it's made that drive home a lot more pleasant, enjoyable even. It's all about making it work, making the most of it, finding our groove.
Well in all my excitement about these little details keeping us all going, I may have just put you all to sleep with my talk of the minutia of lunches and driving! Let's talk yarn tomorrow?
Have a beautiful day, friends!