Making The Most of Our Time
The beginning of the year always brings a sense of calm, a newness that we’re often shy to embrace. I have so enjoyed the time at home with family that spanned over the holiday break and allowed for so many free days and a mostly unorchestrated timeline. The kids and I benefitted from that relaxed atmosphere that truly allowed for our creative imaginations to take over and entertain us. Without school work, lunches to pack, timelines to adhere to and an overall rigorous schedule, we really learned to take advantage of otherwise unspoken for minutes.
I have a deep love and passion for cooking & baking, so that became a big part of the free time that I utilized over the holiday break. I made hot breakfasts of omelets, pancakes and french toast nearly every day and spent weeks planning and preparing for hosting a full house on Christmas Day for a very special dinner. We baked batches upon batches of cookies together, and the kids helped me prepare for our guests by trimming vegetables and tying dough for dinner rolls. Getting them acclimated to the kitchen is very important to me, from instilling a respect and passion for incorporating the best organic ingredients to the process behind how to use them and especially the camaraderie that comes with cooking together. They seem to love it as much as I do, and it’s incredibly special to me to have these memories.
Come January and the return to the chaos of school and work, I have been feeling slightly caught off-guard and unprepared for managing the otherwise well-oiled machine that is (sometimes) our household. Our beloved babysitter moved across the Pacific Ocean over the holiday break, and for me getting used to being without the extra set of hands has been a less-than-spectacular process. She would spend time with Evvie in the mornings so I could get my work done and in the afternoons she would be there to help so I didn’t have to take all the kids to every sports practice and various other appointments specific to one child. The past two weeks have been positively packed with work, and bringing the kids to every practice, appointment and errand has been a comedy of errors and extreme drama in some cases. My well-oiled machine has seen better days and I’m legitimately frazzled from the disarray. In the evenings I find that my patience crumbles when the dinner and nighttime routines become critically impacted by homework, cleaning up back-to-back toddler disasters and managing Theo and Beau’s energy by making sure they get exercise outdoors during the witching hour. These nights tend to get a little hairy and dinner needs to be wholesome and simple and easy enough to put together in a flash. One of my go-to’s during these times is Annie’s Soups, grilled cheese sandwiches and a little bowl of frozen peas (my kids love them, especially Evvie when she is teething!). It’s an opportunity to combine one of their favorites, the Organic Creamy Tomato & Bunny Pasta Soup which has a 1/2 cup of vegetables, or the Organic Bunny Pasta & Chicken Broth Soup, made with antibiotic-free chicken, with being able to bring them into the preparation process by having them be in charge of that part of dinner. These soups are familiar and comforting to them, which is a double win for me because I know that they’ll have something that they enjoy that’s made with good things, the incentive of getting to make it themselves, and the minimal time commitment for those evenings when I simply don’t have that or the patience to spare.
It’s been a bit of a rocky start to our new year with my last-minute travel schedule, the release of my new book in mere days, and especially the less-than-minor surgery that Theo had recently to remove an abscess from his face. We are managing well and focusing on what’s important: our health, happiness and family dynamic. Making meals that fill our needs when the logistics of life are otherwise ebbing and flowing is critical. Having trustworthy options and being able to choose good things to eat on days where time is a strict commodity is an essential part of running a successful household, one that I’m fiercely proud of even when things get a little messy.