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March 2010
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May 2010

the way we were

Nat painting Scan0061

While I'm super excited {and stressed} about our upcoming move to Newberg I'm also getting nostalgic about leaving this house. The saving grace is that people I really like are going to live here and {hopefully} love our house as much as we did. I know this house isn't for everyone, but it will always be our first home. We've poured our hearts, sweat and the majority of our savings into this farmhouse built in 1898. This will always be the home our babies came home to ... Why wouldn't I go back through some old pictures while I'm overwhelmed with packing and parenting?

This is the first place we lived in where we were allowed to paint. So we did. A lot. For a year people would come over and say, "Hey, it's your house so you can change the cabinets."

But we picked this lovely color combination. And we weren't tripping on anything either. It was the first thing we painted when we moved in and I hated it soon thereafter but we'd moved on to bigger projects and it was only this year that we changed them back to white. Much better.


Back to packing ... though I suppose I'll be tripping down memory lane for awhile.

The Journal Project - Work in Progress

Most of you already know I'm kind of a nerd ... just more proud of it at 34 than I was in middle school. I started writing about The Journal Project on my writing site Nathalie's Notes. Click over if you're interested. As of late it seems like I'm doing more starting than completing but I can live with having a few works in progress since that seems to be the way of life anyway, right? For the record, I'd like my gravestone to read: Work in progress.

I decided to just begin after reading an article by my favorite author in April's Sunset. Time Lost and Foundby Anne Lamott.

What would you like to "find" more time for?

Meatless Monday: Salad Dressing

One of the first things I liked about my friend Barbara is that she made her own salad dressing. It just seemed like the kind of thing my alter ego {the me I didn't realize I would eventually become} would do. What's funny about being attracted to it then was that I didn't even really eat, much less make, salad back then.

As you may know we bought a new house, by new I mean two years newer than this one {1900} and it'll require, uh, adjusting to a new budget. We've got all kinds of ideas on how to make that work, one of which is not buying salad dressing for a year.

The tool that'll help me accomplish that goal is my Pampered Chef Salad Mixer where you literally measure, mix and pour. The mixer has recipes for four basic dressings printed right on the container: Asian, Caesar, Italian & French. I'd post some of the recipes here but they don't actually have measurements, it's more like "fill to this line, add to this line, dash of this, shake of that" and mix. A bonus cool thing about this little gadget is that you can use it to let your toddler scramble their own eggs. Very cool.

If you have the following on hand:

Vegetable oil, 1/4 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese, garlic cloves, sugar, Dijon mustard, coarse black pepper, lemon juice ... you've got the makings of your own Caesar dressing and a couple bucks back in your pocket. I'm not saying it'll pay the mortgage but it's a step.

If you're not so much into making your own, my two favorite dressings are:

Annie's Naturals Goddess Dressing and Blue Heron Blue Cheese Dressing. I'll be working on approximating those for the next year.

Paralysis by perfection

Sam balls and box
I once heard a theory that perfectionists often find themselves living in chaos because they are not able to get even the simplest of tasks completed until, or unless, they can do them perfectly.

"Maybe that's your problem, you're a perfectionist!" A friend suggested. I laughed, thinking there was no way that could be true. If I was a perfectionist, things would be more, well, perfect, right?

So yesterday Amy and the girls came over to help me pack and keep Sam out of the boxes and bubble wrap. Amy brought a box in from the playroom, "I found another box." I was almost out of boxes. But, see, I couldn't use that one because it was the perfect size for some of our games and some of our picture frames. It seemed weird to me to put them all in the same box though so that "perfect" box floated around the playroom for days. Sam didn't mind as it was a boat, a basketball hoop and a cozy place to have his morning snack.

So I went to pack the games. Some of them. I was almost done but there was this one perfect size spot in the middle to tuck something else in. Only I couldn't find the something so I left the box mostly packed figuring I'd find the thing later and finish it. "Or you could finish it now." Amy suggested. It truly hadn't occurred to me. I took the packing gun and Sharpie to it and put it with the other finished boxes. I can assure you that box would still be where I left it if she hadn't opened my eyes to what I was doing.

Then there were the vases. I was nearly finished packing all the china, wine glasses and other things we keep in hopes of having a social life again someday. "I'm almost done with this except the vases."

"Do you want me to start packing them?"

"No. I might need them to put the lilacs in." She eyed me carefully. There were seven vases sitting out. That's a lot of lilacs in vases when truthfully, when exactly will I be enjoying these vases of flowers in the next five weeks of moving? Plus, there's always empty applesauce jars.

I packed the vases.

So things are moving right along here.

Meatless Monday: Food for thought

Maybe you've received the memo that we're moving ... I seem to have just dialed into that fact recently. I was so preoccupied  consumed obsessed with the details of finding and buying a house that I didn't consider what that actually meant, exactly. So we brought home car loads of boxes from the liquor store over the weekend (mostly empty, C.) And started packing in earnest. Sam was super supportive. When he broke a crystal candle holder he announced that he did, indeed, "break something." I figured it was just one less thing to move. Then I declared a "ball-free" zone and asked him to go help daddy rake. Turns out that Sam adores his dad so much if Matt declared picking up dog poo with bare hands Sam would be right there doing it alongside him. I need to tap into that.

Moving also means it's time to clear out the pantry. We are doing a lot of this meal lately:

Grain/Pasta + meat + sauce/gravy + canned fruit/vegetable = sometimes good, sometimes not but always a meal and less to move.

The grain we've been really enjoying is quinoa - I don't have a real recipe for you because we've just been cooking it and pouring gravy or other sauces on it but it tastes great and is super good for you.

"The World Health Organization has rated the quality of protein in quinoa to be equivalent or superior to that found in milk products." 

And, finally, some food for thought. Here is an article by nutritionist Leanne Ely I got in my inbox this morning. There are a few parts I take issue with but that's a story for another day, for the most part I think it's worth considering. Particularly, that the point of power is in the present moment and health care reform begins at home.

Buddy Hackett once said, "My mother's menu consisted of two choices. Take it or leave it."

That's what my mother's menu consisted of, too. We had the choice of eating the dinner she prepared or leaving the table hungry. If we didn't like what she prepared, we weren't allowed to make ourselves a PB & J. If we snuck a banana or anything else for that matter, we were in big trouble. Why? Was my mother abusive and mean? Was my family dysfunctional because the children weren't allowed to call the shots on what was for dinner? Am I in therapy now because I was made to eat my vegetables?

Nope. My family had issues like any other family, but it was pretty "normal". I've noticed however, that what was fashionable in the childrearing of yesterday is now considered barbaric and obsolete. Today, we are told, that if we "make" our children eat what's in front of them will develop eating disorders. Not giving children "choices" will harm their self esteem, so say the "professionals".

The very words "eating disorder" sends us into a tailspin. Consequently, after years of permissive parenting at the dinner table, we suddenly realize our children may have never eaten an honest portion of veggies in their entire young lives. In our perfectionism (and boy, parenting is the place where we wear our maternal stripes with pride!) we have been more concerned about our children's psyches than teaching them an important life skill--eating nutritiously. Because we want to be better parents than our own parents, we want our children to have "perfect" childhoods with no conflict whatsoever. We buy all of that, don't we? And, to use a food analogy, the proof is the pudding--just take a look at the kids. 

Childhood obesity is at epidemic proportions. According to the International Obesity Task Force, there are about 22 million children in the world, UNDER 5 that are overweight or obese! In another study, the Canadian Medical Association reported that obesity among young boys ages 7 to 13 years old, TRIPLED between 1981 and 1996.

That's just the children. What about the adults? In the United States, 7 out of 10 adults are overweight or obese (according to the Centers of Disease Control)! The problem of obesity or what we like to call Body Clutter, is a FAMILY problem. And we, the parents have a huge responsibility to teach our children how to be healthy (by eating right and exercising) and we do that primarily by example. You can't preach healthy living if you're not doing it yourself. 

I don't pretend for a minute to hold all the answers to this and other child rearing dilemmas. Like you, I struggle with my decisions as a parent. However, as a nutritionist, I have to look at the statistics and they are absolutely mind blowing. That's how I want you to evaluate what I'm saying--look at this from a nutritionist's point of view.

Believe it or not the family dinner table is one place that you can make a difference in your family health quota. By serving a healthy, balanced meal at least once a day, you'll be making great progress. But the problem is schedules, sports, dance classes, band practice, church...did I miss something else that has you going almost every night of the week? We often find ourselves in the car at dinnertime schlepping kids to yet another activity during dinner time. Or we're driving thru for a quick bite (and feeling guilty about it) or going out to dinner (again--there goes the family budget!).

How do we get back to the dinner table anyway? The first step would be to reevaluate your family's schedule. What is the reality of your schedule? Are you out of the house almost every night of the week? Can any of these activities be combined and done in one night instead of two? Can you eliminate anything?

If you're out nearly every night of the week, ask yourself these questions honestly: how often are you eating fast food? And even if you are eating fast food, how often are you making the healthiest choices on those menus?

Body Clutter is a FAMILY project-- becoming healthy and fueling yourself and your family with the right amount of quality food is a lifestyle, not a diet. Talk to your family about food--have a family meeting. Tell them your intentions and invite them to come aboard. You might not get the warm welcome you're hoping for when you're talking about a healthy diet! But stay persistent, buy healthier foods and make them for dinner (how about adding a nice green leafy salad a few times this week for dinner? A bowl of baby carrots for the table? See how easy this can be?). Take a family walk after dinner and leave the TV in the OFF position. Just these little babysteps will make a huge difference.

Remember, you can't organize clutter; you have to get rid of it. That means body clutter, too.

Copyright (C) 2010 www.savingdinner.comLeanne Ely, CNC All rights reserved.


(Pre) Weekend update

I have so many posts in my head, on scraps of paper and in my drafts file but am having a hard time managing to get anything completed. Anything. Making the bed is about the only thing that I seem to do first thing that gets done and stays done till the end of the day. Besides that it feels like everything else is basically me chasing the proverbial tail.

It did occur to me yesterday that while I was engaged in the pursuit of the perfect house, the fact that I actually have to pack all this stuff up and move escaped me.  I'm moving in six (or so) weeks! I haven't even made my to do lists yet, much less started crossing things off of them. I guess I do have one huge box of bubble wrap. And some books are packed. Sam has a box in his room and packs his books up daily. Then he folds the top in a way that took me the better part of my life to do, you know where you tuck the box flaps into themselves? Yeah, he's got that down pat. When it's time for nap or bedtime, he says: "Let's read a book! I'll go check in my box." And we pretend it's a surprise that he pulls out: "Sally! Mater! McQueen! Doc Hudson!"

Small update on the house situation: appraisal is ordered but hasn't been done yet, to the best of my knowledge. Looks like closing is still set to be around the end of May. Still love, love, love the house.

Dreaming of this in my new entry, luckily I know a guy who happens to be handy with reclaimed timber and is going to have a shop to build it in:


I discovered it on this cool site:


Morning lessons

Lessons learned just this morning:

- Don't teach your kid to say annoying things like "Holla!"* And if you do, don't encourage it by laughing the first 20 times they repeat it because the next 200 aren't going to be as funny.

- Don't leave your kid unattended with maple syrup. Even for a minute.

- Happy and healthy is more important than neat and tidy. Really.

*I really don't know what possessed me!

Why I write

As some of you know, my way of writing got called into question yesterday when Matt's personal and professional life intersected in a negative way due to something I'd written on here. As I tried to figure out why I was so upset by this, I realized just how much this forum means to me.

For me, writing is how I process life. The ability to spin any experience, stressful or otherwise, into a story is my most successful coping skill. The habit of looking for the angle I could take on any subject has helped me put all manner of things in proper perspective. The way I see it, for a writer, everything is material. Everything. It's not like I even do it on purpose. I'd have to try not to do it.

Taking notes on life in real time is what I've always done. This forum for sharing those notes is relatively new. However, my five years of writing this blog about everything and nothing have been extremely rewarding both personally and professionally.

Perhaps I don't have a problem with my personal and professional life intersecting because I use my personal life as the foundation for my professional one. Granted, it's not for everyone but it is for me.

Telling the truth about all kinds of things, including the fact that sometimes I lie, is what I do.

Speaking of writing and the truth, somewhere in the middle of all my moving and not moving, my article about lying ran in the paper yesterday.

p.s. I genuinely appreciate your feedback and comments, calls and emails. It's my second favorite part of this forum. The first, of course, being the fact that an outlet for my writing keeps me from sticking my head in the oven. Who knows? Maybe something as hideously named as a blog could've saved Sylvia Plath.

Lesson learned

When you're the kind of person who puts yourself out there --in person or on paper -- you have to be willing to deal with the consequences of your expression. And I am. However, when said expression has a negative impact on people you love ... things get a little bit uncomfortable. Or a lot uncomfortable.

I have always tried to be circumspect in my writing and have, believe it or not, omitted and deleted many things that might be "over-sharing" or that might make my husband, or kids in the future, uncomfortable. My parents read my blog, so that's kind of its own filter as well. I am genuine in my writing and refuse to apologize for it. It turns out, though, that there are unintended consequences for writing in real time and I have to process that before I decide how to handle it. Without making anyone else uncomfortable, I'll just leave it at this: something I wrote (but I don't know what exactly) caused Matt's personal and professional life to intersect in a very negative way. Matt is a super, super private person in the same way that I'm quite open. On occasion this has come up in my column as I always give him the right to edit out things that make him uncomfortable but since he doesn't read my blog, I had no idea it would be upsetting to him to find out I'd been writing about our house-hunting journey, nor did I know that in doing so I was giving other people ammunition to be hurtful.

Lesson learned. I just haven't figured out exactly how to handle it.