Dinner is Served

I must admit, my talents are not found in the kitchen.  I never gravitated to the culinary arts growing up – I was in the gym shooting hoops.  So, whenever I got married and found myself faced with the question, “What’s for dinner?” I had very few options.

Things have gotten better the last few years, though.  What was once a rotation of a handful of meals has grown a little bit.  I recently made mini quiches that were a big hit; this surprised everyone, myself included.  Thanks to Pinterest, I can easily find recipes simple enough for me to handle.  But let’s be honest, I’m mostly on Pinterest to search in the humor section and pin funny e-cards like this one:

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Having kids has really made me buckle down.  I even meal plan now!  Although, when you’re an organizational freak like me, that’s much easier than actually cooking the food.  I want to eat healthy foods, and I certainly want my family to as well.  If I don’t teach them about proper nutrition, no one else will.  I’m not going to say that our kids are picky eaters – they’re not – but they are definitely used to pretty bland cuisine.  There are weeks when I swear we are in some sort of competition to see how many hot dogs we can eat in a 7 day period.  The answer is A LOT.  This mostly happens when our work schedules are crazy or someone is feeling under the weather.

JJ has a few favorite meals that he requests.  The thing about 3-year-olds is that they will love something one minute and loathe it the next.  He will beg me for a certain meal and then when it’s on the table refuse to eat it.  Yeah, that’s in no way frustrating.  We don’t fight with him – we just wrap it up and save it for him to eat later.  We aren’t going to let tantrums ruin the meal for everyone else.

Then there are times when JJ reverses his process and will whine and complain about what I am making, but will try it and love it.  Just the other night I made tacos – a food he loves – but he was insistent that he was just going to skip dinner.  He ate a bite and exclaimed, “I am so proud of you for making this lovely dinner, Your Majesty.”  I didn’t even know what to say to that so I just responded with, “Thank you, Good Sir.”

My Mom is an amazing cook and while we were living with them she made us great meals several times a week.  She gave me some of the recipes and I have been making them since we moved.  I’ll make one of those meals and JJ will say, “Mom, this is almost as good as Meme’s!”  Thanks, I guess.  Although, anything tastes better when my Mom makes it.  She could make me a bologna sandwich and it would be the best tasting sandwich ever made.

In addition to this, my Mom showed me while I was growing up that it is possible to have a good meal for your family every night. She went back to work when my younger sister was in kindergarten. I never realized how much effort it takes to make sure that your family has a home cooked meal after you’ve just been at work all day. I am certainly even more grateful for all that my Mom accomplished now that I have a family of my own.

Other than the fact that cooking doesn’t come easily to me, I also don’t have the time to craft elaborate meals.  Jeff is great about getting dinner started or putting things in the crock-pot for me, which really saves a lot of time when I get home from work.  If I am trying to cook after Jeff leaves for work, I usually have one or both kids hanging off of me while I’m browning meat or sauteing vegetables.  Not ideal, but I’m really trying not to break our previous hot dog consumption record, so I just suck it up.

Whenever Jeff has a night off of work, we always try to have a family dinner.  Even if he is working, the boys and I sit down at the table together.  This is a major priority and something that we look forward to.  We always pray before dinner and this can get interesting.  JJ is old enough to learn how to pray and we encourage him to pray for our meals whenever possible.  One day he rattled off this gem:

“Dear Jesus,

Thank you for this very nice cut grass day.  Thank you for this food and thank you that Mommy is the boss.

Bye.  I mean, Amen.”

Amen to that, son!  I should explain that he went through a stage where he would thank God that the weather was nice enough for him to cut grass with his Dad.  As for the boss part, who knows where he came up with that.

Jett even knows that we pray before meals.  The other night, I thought he was yelling “cheese, cheese” from his highchair.  Like most human beings, he is obsessed with cheese.  As it turns out, he was saying, “Jesus, Jesus.”  He wanted to pray!  It was such a great moment.

There have been several occasions when we have been eating at a restaurant and the food comes and JJ screams, “We have to pray!”  He has then proceeded to yell his prayer loud enough for most patrons to hear.  But, I refuse to be embarrassed about that and I certainly never want him to be embarrassed to pray in public.

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Getting the food to the table can be quite the adventure, but spending that time together is a tradition that we started when the kids were born and one that we plan to keep going until they leave the nest.  I love having the chance to catch up with one another.  Sure, there are nights when the toddlers’ tempers take over and all you-know-what breaks loose.  But for the most part, everyone’s happy when dinner is served.

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