Monthly Archives: April 2014

It really *is* how you play the game

I’m just gonna put it out there. Toughie’s team has yet to win a game. Let’s be clear: many things in the universe are conspiring against them. The teams are divided by age, but because it was hard to get enough kids for a team, two age groups are together in one team. But because the older kids in the group can’t play against younger teams, the younger kids have to play against older teams. And they’re not just any ramshackle bunch of kids who happen to be older: some of them have been playing as long as they’ve been walking. Some were cherry-picked from their recreational leagues, and other teams have so many kids they have an “A” squad and a “B” squad. Our team was just big enough to play the field with one or two substitutes. Many of them dabbled in the rec league, but didn’t have much in the way of formal training (Toughie included). They’re learning as they go. And it’s just not easy. And that is frustrating. Now here’s the bright side:  It has never gotten the kids down. They were just as excited after their last loss about playing as they were before their first loss.  And more kids have joined up. And now they’re learning to play together. And they’re scoring. And they’re loving it. And every parent on the sideline is proud. And next fall, there will be two teams formed from this one–the older kids who play in the next bracket, and the younger kids who will  stay in our current bracket. Toughie is one of the younger kids. And if he’s good now (which I have been told he is), he just might be great next year. He’s trying every step of the way. Here’s to not worrying about whether you win or lose.

Menus are for restaurants

And I ain’t no restaurant.

One of those things that experts will tell you when you want to avoid overspending on food is to create a menu and shop accordingly. And being married 10 years now, with ever-growing and ever-eating children, I’ve tried it to use a weekly menu. And I’ll stick with it for a while… until incidents happen (see what I did there?). We get invited to someone else’s house; a bonus from the Hubs’ job takes us out somewhere special; I forget to take the necessary items out of the freezer; something comes up so that we only have 30 minutes to make dinner instead of the 55 minutes my recipe calls for; I accidentally plan something that I thought I had all the ingredients for but I actually don’t. It’s frustrating. 

There’s also the fact that a menu kind of makes you think that you have to make something entirely new and different every night. This was a huge problem when I ended up shelling out a lot of money for a week’s worth of meats and veggies, and ended up with a ton of leftovers that no one really wanted. I took a page out of my dad’s playbook (he used to run office cafeterias) and “repurposed” food whenever I could. But the kids weren’t really buying into it, and frankly neither was I. 

Then I stumbled on a solution. Like a mediocre wardrobe, I had pieces available to me but nothing that really “went together.” So I looked carefully and wrote down what I could make with it: the chicken carcass with breast meat still attached can be soup; the frozen tilapia can be thawed, breaded and fried; ground turkey and leftover bacon (I know– that surprises me when it happens, too) can be a decent meatloaf. I left it on the fridge and checked off meals as I made them. Then there are items that don’t require much work from me that can end up being dinner anyway (i.e., boxed Mac & Cheese). The occasional dinner out tops it all off. 

A fan of clever advertisements, I nicknamed this list, “The Scroll of Infinite Deliciousness” like the Campbell’s Soup ad. The kids like it, because they often get to pick the meal. And I just like not being “locked in” to a particular menu. Isn’t that what we like about menus when we go out to eat– varied possibilities?

Here’s to eating what we love and loving what we eat.Image

(Bar-be-que pork in the Crock Pot. I could make this every week.)