Monday, May 27, 2013

It's Okay...He Eats Salads now

I'd really rather ignore lunch. It's such an inconvenient meal for our schooling-at-home gang, BUT if salad's on the menu, I'm such a happy camper both in the preparing and in the eating of it.

It all began after a season of focusing on nutrition. My Man discovered that he loved salad as a meal, noting that he didn't suffer from that after-lunch-lull when he'd had a big manly salad for his midday meal. By big manly salad I mean this...
{Picture taken at our annual visit to The Cheesecake Factory 
where my guy choose a huge salad over his 
usual Mac n'Cheese burger...swoon!}

The day he left for work and said, "You know what would taste great for lunch? A big salad, would that be okay?" I would have done back handsprings down the hallway, I could have. This vegetable-averse Man-o-mine just might be turning a food corner and I'm way too excited about it. We've all heard it said that love covers a multitude of sins but I'm hear to tell you that these days, it is salad that eases domestic cares.

When I get a text that tells me he's gonna be late coming home for dinner, I think..."It's OK, he eats salad now."

When I don't get that text and he's late coming home for dinner, I think..."It's OK, he eats salad now."

When we are having an argument and I've figured out the perfect way to prove my point, I resist, thinking..."It's OK, he eats salad now."

Ok, that last one was completely untrue, I always try to make my case, but now, because he eats salad, I try to argue with a smile on my face instead of veins popping in my neck...nice, huh?

All because of salad...

This fella of mine who has been against most things green is attempting to turn over a new leaf in this fourth decade of his life and can I looks rather nice on him. I'd rather hear "Hey, can we have a great big salad for lunch today? I'm hungry for salad..." than just about anything else. {Honestly I might rather like to hear..."Hey, you wanna go out and get Mexican food tonight?" but "Let's eat salad." holds a very close second.}

And! When my Man has a lunch appointment these days, he always reports home about the salad he ate at this restaurant or that restaurant, suggesting things we might like to try in our salads at home***. Sometimes I just have to wonder what's come over him, I suspect it may be the extra vitamin A and beta-Carotene coursing through his system. Salad...what's not to love?

Salad and homemade salad dressing that tastes so good that my Man doesn't seem to mind the thirteen different kinds of lettuce and the wheat berries and a stray avocado or a radish or two that I might have hidden amongst the leafy greens.

Honey Mustard Dressing:

1 1/2 cups good quality mayonnaise (we like Hellmann's)
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup Dijon mustard

Mix all ingredients together well in a food processor or a blender or really, a fork and some elbow grease will suffice. Store left-over amount in the fridge where it will keep well for at least 2 weeks, unless you are serving it on a salad everyday at lunchtime.

***Our deluxe lunch salads usually contain:

  • lettuces - our favorite is red lettuce which has a mild tasting, soft, and slightly purplish leaf, we add to that romaine lettuce and a basic green leaf lettuce. When we're feeling fancy, I'll toss in some peppery tasting arugula which really takes the things over the top.

  • carrots - peeled and shredded 

  • apples - no need to peel, but core them and dice into bite-sized pieces
  • Craisins - cranberry raisins to add some sweet spots of flavor. Currents are also a nice addition.
  • Nuts - chopped almonds, walnuts, or pecans are always the ingredients that steal the show. They add wonderful flavor and crunch.

  • cheese - goat cheese or cheddar cheese or mozzarella or, or ... any kind you like. Goat cheese is a tangy cheese that comes in a soft form much like a block of cream cheese, it also comes in crumbles and is wonderful in salad. Sometimes we add shredded cheese and when we do we toss a handful on top of each serving so that the cheese in the leftover salad doesn't get soggy in the big bowl.
You can stop right there (or anytime after the lettuce and carrots really!) and have a super lunch. However, sometimes either because we are out of one ingredient or another or for variety, we'll add some of the following ingredients:
  • chicken - if we have leftover roasted chicken, or any other kind of chicken it usually finds it's way into our salad. If there is none left over, toss a frozen chicken breast into a skillet to cook while your are chopping lettuce. One breast is usually sufficient to do the job.
  • pears
  • Mandarin oranges - from the can, drained and halved
  • beans - black, Great Northern, pinto, kidney; drained well
  • berries - whatever is in season, blueberries, strawberries...
  • pasta - plain, cooked. I often boil extra macaroni noodles and set aside to toss into soup or salad.
  • corn - if frozen-thawed, if canned-drained
  • green peas - frozen, not canned, and thawed
  • wheat berries - these beauties have a great bite and a mild taste and are full of fiber, protein, and iron and add some heft to salads giving them staying power. Stay tuned for more about wheat berries who are often the base of a different kind of salad being served often at The Wright Place lately. {Click here to find out more about wheat berries.}

{Above: Wheat berries after they've been cooked.  Prepare them by 
simmering in salted water for about an hour. 
I usually fix a few cups of them on a Saturday morning
 and then put them in the fridge for the week.}

After all of this virtuous talk of green leafy salad and brown nutritious wheat berries, you may be concerned that the adults in this household have completely turned into health nuts...

Do NOT fear!!!
{The scene that followed my Man's beautiful salad meal at The Cheesecake Factory}

We ARE completely nuts, of course, but we try to keep the health thing well balanced!!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

While Mom's Away...

Recently my Man and I left town on our annual retreat. Each year in May we travel just a few hours away where Darrin attends a pastor's conference and where I spend time alone in a hotel room reading and watching TV and going to local bookstores. Darrin enjoys being the one in the pew hearing teaching instead of doing the speaking and I enjoy being the one doing the reading instead of the one instructing others to do so. 

While we were gone, I sent an email to my Boy just to stay in touch and maybe to fan his competitive streak into to a bit of a flame. It's what moms do...hip moms, those on the cutting edge of technology and all those other things that the young people are all atwitter about these days. The email looked something like this... {links did not appear in the actual email ;-)

Email #1

Dearest Son Whom I Love,

After nearly one month of lackluster reading, {and of being terribly distracted by cookbooks with all of their shiny this one and this one} I'd like to report that I've finally finished my 20th book of 2013. I am therefore half way to my goal of 49 books this year. I am, I suspect, also making excellent strides at my more important goal which is BEATING YOU in this year's reading race. I am not, however beating Kate who should really let me stay ahead of her since I did teach her how to read in the first place...come to think of it, I taught you to read too way back in the dark ages of our acquaintance ...So how 'bout it? Do you think you can see your way to letting your dear mom win? {you'd better not...I'm not gonna let you win...I'm gonna go down fighting...if I go down at all that is!}

All my love,
Your Mom
Reader Extraordinaire

Email #2...the addendum...

I typed the previous email with 1 finger and made a mistake or goal is actually 40 books, more accurately making 20 the halfway point :-) Please pardon my math and do not go looking for a new math teacher...ok really, who are we kidding, I'm not exactly your math teacher, but I did hook you up with the cool computer program that is teaching you math and you are doing very well. Also, I forgot to include the name of the book I finished the twentieth one... Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me... (the one that I read part of out loud in the car when we were all traveling the other day and everyone got tickled). It was really fun and a bit sad and I loved the way it ended. I laughed out loud so many times while I was reading it. It might be a book you would like .

That is all!
Your Mom

Who Never Was a Math Whiz

If you have any experience with teenaged boys, you already know that I received no response from my taunting. My Boy will answer me back by reading 41 books and making sure to finish the last page of book #41 at three minutes until midnight on the last day of our reading contest

That's just the way he works.

While we were away, I also emailed a link to Cole and Meg asking them to read this article and tell me 5 things they learned from it. Everyone making an attempt to keep up with social media, technology, and entertainment and live a real-live life at the same time should read it too. The kids enjoyed the article and did a fine job summarizing it in five points via text message! 

Kids these days! {I love 'em!}

“If one reads enough books one has a fighting chance. 
Or better, one’s chances of survival increase with each book one reads.” 
— Sherman Alexie

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Too Much Crime for a Four-Year-Old? Our Family's Dilemma...

When I was a fresh new mother, I was highly discriminating when it came to television and my precious little boy and girl. The options available for their little eyes were limited to Veggie Tales, Rescue Heroes, and Buzz Lightyear. Only begrudgingly did we eventually allow GI Joe and the ill-fated Hannah Montana as Cole and Meg grew older.

Then, Kate and Molly entered the picture and the years passed and now in our home we've a wide age range of TV viewers. There are the expected squabbles over what to watch when you have a sports-obsessed 14 year-old boy seated on the same couch as a girly fashion-conscious 8 year-old girl.

We have found a few shows that appeal to our entire family. Many of our favorites are reruns of shows my Man and I enjoyed as kids. We love it when we find The Cosby Show as we troll the channels. Everyone agrees, everyone watches, everyone laughs.

My own favorite shows have almost always involved some sort of mystery. I grew up on Remington Steele, Murder, She Wrote, and Matlock. My kids are taking after my interest in mystery and crime shows and I love watching with them.

One snowy winter Friday over the Christmas break we came upon a marathon of one of my favorite all time shows, Monk. The kids and I spent hour after hour on the couch that day just soaking up the mystery and the mayhem and the murder.

Murder? Um yea. I made the little girls hide their eyes when the dead bodies appeared on the I can still be in the running for Mother of the Year...right?

It turns out that every Friday there is a Monk marathon.  Molly has learned all the words to the show's theme song, and it is a battle to keep attentions focused on history and science when everybody would rather be seated in front of the TV on what is lovingly referred to these days as Monk Day.

Truth: Molly and Kate have been watching another crime drama for the past year.

NCIS, the #1 show in the nation, or so the advertisers say, is the show that gathers our gang on a weekly basis. Tuesday evenings find us all on the couch tuning in to see what Gibbs and Abby and Tony and Ziva and McGee and Ducky have in store for our viewing pleasure.

We insist that they turn their heads when, the expected corpse is seen in close up. The same holds true in the autopsy scenes. We do have standards...but oh how they have changed since Cole and Meg were four years old! I'd like to think that our priorities have changed a bit. Instead of thinking that our standards have fallen, could it be that we are willing to give a bit on TV choices for the sake of an hour together on the couch? Perhaps trading appropriate content for affectionate cuddles?

Is the trade off worth it? Most of the time I think so, however there are times I wonder.

There are comments scattered throughout our every days that tend more to crime than to coloring. Molly speaks often of the "talking room" where Gibbs, the head of the NCIS team talks to the "bad guys". One day her feet came running to tell me of her latest discovery, "MOM!! I KNOW what the talking room is called's the INTERROGATION ROOM." Just what every four-year-old needs to know right?

There was the day that Molly, seeing a sheriff's vehicle parked along a busy street in our neighborhood said, "I wonder if they're going to bring out a dead body soon."

{Oh how I hope she is not discussing these topics with her Sunday School teachers!}

Another time, Molly from her perch on the potty of the Christian book store, noticed the knots in the wood of the bathroom door. "Look at those bullet holes Mom!"

I really began to get concerned that my girl was going to be thinking that there were killers around every corner. But then, Megan was looking for Molly around the house recently and finally found her lying on her bed, eyes closed but obviously not sleeping. When asked why Molly didn't answer Meg's calls for her, Molly answered, "I am supposed to be dead in this scene." I determined that she obviously understood that the shows were pretend (ignoring the earlier stated evidence to the contrary).

So, conscience relatively clear, we continue to watch our family show, full of dead bodies, killers, crooks, and cops (in which right almost always wins and where lying never pays, and where loyalty to one's team is lauded...) and we spend time on the couch building case files memories and a tying a common thread on which to hang in years to come. One day, perhaps, my kids may find themselves telling their little ones when to cover their eyes while they watch reruns of NCIS...who knows?

 By the age of six the average child will have completed the basic American education.... From television, the child will have learned how to pick a lock, commit a fairly elaborate bank holdup, prevent wetness all day long, get the laundry twice as white, and kill people with a variety of sophisticated armaments.   ~John F. Kennedy

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Imperfect Strides

I run these days with ear buds in my ears that are different sizes...the ear buds that is, I think my ears themselves are nearly the same size. My running clothes are fairly utilitarian but are not at all immune to wardrobe malfunctions...not of the flashing type but more of the creeping and sagging variety. My left running shoe squeaks with every step but it doesn't bother me because of the mismatched earbuds pumping all matter of noise into my head. There is no flat route in my running repertoire and the road home is always uphill.

Even with these less-than-perfect running circumstances, all working together in unison sometimes, it's still worth it. Once I'm out there, less than 50 yards into a run, I no longer notice that one earbud is fitting more snuggly in my ear than the other or that a piece of my clothing is either riding up or falling down. I'm just so terribly thrilled to be putting one foot in front of the other whether it be on the treadmill, or as now, out in the awakening spring with the dogwood flowers falling on my head as I pass under them.

There is something about taking time to push this body of mine down the street a little faster or further than the last time. It's something else too to see my girls watching as I approach the house cheering me on and learning from me as I learn the importance of taking care of the body I've been given. Still more there's this boy who holds my heart and who is working hard to be the best runner he can be and I kind of feel like I need to hold up the standard he's setting with his steady devotion and increasingly faster times.

I keep running because I want to keep eating sorbet and because it's birthday season here and that means ice cream cake is on the menu in a heavy rotation. I keep running because of how I feel after I've come home sweat-soaked and red-faced. I keep running because my clothes savvy daughters seem to enjoy calling my attention to how things were...before.

"Oh Mom!" says Kate, "I just saw a picture of you from a long time ago when you looked really REALLY different than you do now. And Mom, you look lots better now."

Um...thanks? At least "thanks" from the "now me" and on behalf of the really REALLY different old me... "Kate, you didn't love me any less then."

I feel so much better now that I am a little healthier. I have no significant numbers to boast of on the scales and mores the better because it just can't be about those numbers. Those numbers used to rule my outlook for each and every day. It simply has to be about taking care of this body that God has given me, this body that I've taken for granted for far too long.

I recently read a book {shocking, I know} called Every Body Matters: Strengthening Your Body to Strengthen Your Soul by Gary Thomas in which he poses a question that sinks deeply into my heart...
What if exercise and discipline in eating isn't as much about physical health as about honoring the God who made us?
What if?  What if in the joy and excitement of feeling better and fitting into different clothes, my little audience of four thinks that it's all about how one looks? If that's the case, I've missed an opportunity to help them honor  God in the bodies that they have been given.

What if, however, I'm able to communicate to them at the beginnings of their journeys in those precious bodies that those bodies are indeed precious and that taking care of them is an important work of stewardship, NOT so they can be the skinniest one in the room, NOT so they can run the furthest or the fastest, and NOT so they can look down on others who may be struggling with their fitness like their very own mother has for the better part of her adulthood, but instead so they can be fit for His service, what ever that may be.

What if I remember that too, on those many many many mornings when putting on my squeaky shoes and my smelly shirt and my really cool socks {I really love my running socks...they actually match!} and leaving the house is the LAST thing I want to do, when a nice cup of coffee and a good book and a bagel sound like a much kinder and gentler way of greeting the day, and when my Boy saying, "Hey Mom, you runnin' tomorrow?" makes me groan out loud.

What if I remember, instead of rolling over, that I need to "Therefore honor God with {my} body" and just do the work because right about the time I've forgotten about my mismatched earphones and my poorly-tied shoestrings...that work becomes worship! Worship aimed directly at the God who made me.

"And when he redeemed us, he didn't just redeem our souls; he redeemed our bodies and claims them for his use as well. Therefore honor God with your bodies." ~Gary Thomas

Share button


Related Posts with Thumbnails