Family Meal Success

Today, all four of us sat down at the table for our evening meal. This is a very rare occurence, probably happening about once every 6 weeks or so at present. It’s also something I want to “fix” – I think families should eat together as much as possible.

In the week, it’s almost impossible to arrange this, as DH doesn’t get in until close to 7pm some nights and rarely before 6pm. The boys are getting ready for bed by 6.30pm, so a family meal doesn’t fit in (unless of course, I push the boys bedtime back, which is a possibility although that would take up some of the evening time I have with DH).

At weekends though, there is no excuse. We are both usually around all the time, so feasibly could eat together as a family at least twice a week.

Today I made (made!) potato dauphinoise, sausages (from the Good Little Company) and broccoli. 10 month old DS2 scoffed the potatoes and broccoli with enthusiasm (much of it went on the floor). DS1 picked at it (unfamiliar food), and after a few mouthfuls and a 15 minute wait, I ended up making him a peanut butter sandwich. My potatoes were a little watery as I used a bit too much milk, and one of my sausages split and left it’s charred remains over all the other nicely browned ones. However! On the plus side:

1) We all sat down together for almost 30 minutes as a family
2) DS2 got to eat proper food, not processed baby food or annoying purees
3) DS1 got to eat try a proper dinner, not a 10 minute quick cook pasta or fishfinger tea
4) DH and I got to eat proper, home-cooked food, that didn’t actually take hours for me to prepare or use up every pan in the house.

So all in all, it feels like a success. I’m going to start recording our evening meals so I can (hopefully) watch them improve over time.

I’m fully expecting the evenings after we have both been at work to be the worst, but on the weekends I know I can do better.

Spending Scrutiny

Something I’ve been thinking about doing for a long time now is tracking every penny I spend.

I already use a program to track my banking transactions (Moneydance for Mac), and have done for years, but I can be a bit non-specific about spending, for example, listing hundreds of pounds worth of “cash withdrawals” over the course of a year. I have no idea where all that cash goes.

And my categories have fallen into habit rather than specificity – I tend to put a lot of things under “child costs:other” and “groceries” simply because I can’t be bothered to tailor the categories now I’ve been using it in a particular way for so long.

So.

I’m going to start afresh tomorrow, and record every single penny. Daily.

Every. Single. Penny.

This will help with the goals of paying off my credit card debt and in saving for when babe no.3 arrives. It will also help us in the long run, as DH and I agreed the other day that we are almost certainly going to start feeling the squeeze in our current house once babe no.3 is running around as a toddler. I know this is a couple of years down the line, but during at least one of those years I will be bringing in hardly anything and we are already unsure how exactly we would ever be able to afford to buy something bigger than we already own.

I need a revised selection of categories, and I need to add a cash account that records literally the cash in my purse.

Lots to do.

Day 36 – Suppressed Immune System

For the second time in my life I have managed to coincide getting pregnant with a child starting nursery.

What is the result of this?

With my pregnancy suppressed immune system, I end up catching everything the kids catch. And when kids start nursery, they catch everything going.

DS2 has managed two weeks before being struck down with a horrible viral thing. He’s coughing and crying, and mucus-y and grumpy. And I’ve got a horrible cough at the top of my chest and knives in my throat and sore skin and I’m exhausted.

In fact, I’ve been so bad the last two days that DH had to stay home from work to look after both of us. So now that’s two of us using up our leave, all because of one sick baby, and one baby that is about the size of a sesame seed :-).

Luckily DS1 has soldiered on, strong as an ox, with no problems (and has even switched out of nappies and into pants this week with absolutely no fuss and more enthusiasm for the idea than I ever thought possible).

So, the washing is piling up. The house is a mess. The kitchen surfaces are dirty and sticky.

And this is exactly how it was, a year and a half ago, when DS1 started nursery and I was just pregnant with DS2. Both of us ill, both of us miserable, and me unable to take any painkillers/cough meds/nuclear strength throat medicine because I am growing a babe.

Man, it sucks being ill when you’re pregnant!

Meal Provision – The Most Intimidating Part of the Day

Is it just me?

I own a lot of cookery books. I’ve cooked for myself since I was 18 (that’s 19 years of experience – something that should surely make me an expert?). I know that home prepared food is better for you. I know how to do the basics in a kitchen.

But what usually happens is this: I mooch around the cupboards and fridge, idly pick up recipe book after recipe book, and feel that quiet, terrifying desperation. I have no idea what to cook if it doesn’t come out of a packet (oh the shame I feel admitting this). It’s all going to take too long/be too much hassle/require the mother of all clearing up jobs.

I look at the vegetables and grains and bits and pieces in my house and have no idea what to make out of them all.

Or I look at recipes and realise that I don’t quite have all the ingredients for any of them.

I have so much food in my house, and cannot make anything with any of it!!!!

Is it just me?

Or do other people feel this terror and despair over having to think of something for dinner yet again?

I knew that overhauling our evening meals was going to be a challenge, but here I am at the bottom of the mountain and I honestly don’t know if I can conquer it.

Where I am and where I want to be are so far apart it seems impossible to get started.

DVD Downsize

My new, mini, downsized DVD collection. Can you spot the sci-fi theme?

dvd declutter

The ones to go – 93 in total:

dvd declutter

I’ve been thinking about doing this for a looooong time.

For the first 24 years after I left home, I didn’t own a TV. My parents watched hours of TV every night when I was a child and I grew to hate it over the years. Monotonous, over-acted game shows and dreary, depressing soaps where all everyone seemed to do was argue…

As a teenager, my TV watching amounted to a hired movie at a friend’s house when we had sleepovers.

No TV at university. Then after that, in shared houses, someone else always seemed to own one. I didn’t watch a lot even back then when I loafed around all weekend and had no responsibilities.

I gave up on flat sharing at 27 and rented my own 1 bedroom place. No TV there either and I never even thought about getting one.

My first TV?

It was given to me at the age of 29 by a work colleague who was getting rid of his old one (and seemed to feel really sorry for me not owning one).

Why did I want it?

So I could play xbox games 🙂

And what happened?

Slowly, slowly, I started to accumulate DVDs. Just a couple at first, bought in the sale. Then, when my husband-to-be moved in, he had a TV of his own and a collection of DVDs.

We spent more and more time watching things in the evening. He had a lot of stuff I wanted to see (including the entire collection of the X-Files – yes, we watched them all). We didn’t really use the TV to watch broadcast programmes, just the stuff that we had bought on DVD. It became a lovely evening ritual to sit down with dinner, maybe some wine and commentate our way through a film or series that we were interested in. We both worked long hours and travelled a lot for business, so being home and settling down on the sofa was a comfort for us.

Fast forward a few years and now our evenings are precious time. With two small children to look after our days start at about 6am and we don’t get time alone until somewhere after 7pm. Evenings are the only time we can do anything. Household admin, reading, gaming, talking, personal projects, and of course eating our evening meal together.

So recently, more and more, I am finding that I just don’t want to sit down in the evening and watch anything – it feels like a waste of time.

Something has to be really, really good, for me to want to spend the evening in front of the box.

Not only that, but my tastes have changed. Now I am a mother and I have a family, a lot of the things I have bought in the past are just that – in the past. Comedies about office life, transient romance and single living don’t hold the interest they did because that is not where I am in my life right now.

I’ve been eyeballing my DVD collection on and off for a long time, thinking, shall I just get rid of the lot?

So I’ve done it – a major cull.

93 DVDs (or box sets) ready to go. 11 left on the shelf.

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