Trying to decide what’s for dinner

“I’m not going to eat that!”

“I don’t like that!”

Yep, I hear this out of both kids quite a bit. If my husband feels the same way, he at least never says it out loud.  Finding a meal that pleases everyone is almost I think the only one they agree on is homemade pizza and even then I still have to customize it to everyone’s taste. (Sausage for everyone but Lexie and onions, peppers and mushrooms added for me.)

I sometimes dread deciding what to cook for dinner. I usually plan our meals two weeks out. I don’t decide necessarily what to have each day but just meals that I plan to make so that I can have the ingredients on hand when it comes time to make them. This list stops me from staring in the freezer trying to decide what to cook.

Now while making a list of meals does help, the hard part is actually coming up with the list. For a while, I really struggled with it and felt like we were having the same things over and over. I ended up putting the name of all my recipes into an Excel spreadsheet. It is broken down by what type of meat is used. Next to each recipe, I list the cookbook/page, how long it takes to make and other notes such as it freezes well.

But having the list, doesn’t stop the constant worry about who will actually like what I am making. It seems no one in my family likes the same thing…Jase loves pasta casseroles, but those aren’t my husband’s favorite. Lexie doesn’t eat beef but is fine with chicken, and my husband is a meat-and-potatoes type guy.

And then the kids’ tastes keep changing. While Lexie used to love beans, now she rarely will eat them. Jase used to love this chicken dish I make and now won’t eat it. There really no way to please everyone – unless it is pizza night.

It is a challenge to cook for this group and while I try to offer things that the majority likes, there is typically someone not happy with what I am serving. My mother-in-law use to make separate meals for her family to please everyone. I refuse to do that. This isn’t a restaurant after all. Sometimes I will make some mashed potatoes for Lexie since that is her favorite but basically, my rule is if you don’t like dinner, have a bowl of cereal or a hot dog. (Jase will eat the hot dogs but Lexie thinks hot dogs are gross.)

Sigh…now to decide what is for dinner and wonder who will be complaining that they don’t like what I made.

Choosing to be a stay-at-home mom

My husband and I finally decided to have kids in our 30’s. We had been married almost eight years before the child discussion ever came up. Before that we were both fine with our decision not to have kids. But then as I neared thirty, my biological clock began ticking.

Once we decided to take the plunge, we talked about what would happen after we had the baby. Would I want to work and place the baby into daycare or would I want to stay at home? It really proved to be a short discussion.

It was clear from the beginning that we both would rather I stay at home with the baby rather than return to work. And fortunately, we had the resources to allow me to do that.

Now, just so no one jumps up and starts complaining, I do believe there is nothing wrong with both parents working and using daycare (or grandma or a nanny) to help them raise their child. I know some people can’t afford to have one parent stay home and also that some mothers aren’t cut out to be stay-at-home moms. There is nothing wrong, right, better, or worse for ANYONE’S decision on whether they work outside the house AND at home or if they just work at home.

And believe me, raising kids is definitely work. It is not just sitting at home while the kids nap or play. It is teaching them to eat, walk and explore. When the kids were younger, each day was a new adventure – a trip to the zoo, story time at the library or even just a trip to the grocery store.  Now they have the challenges and adventures of going to school. (Lexie is half-day preschool and Jase is in the first grade.)

When my husband and I made the decision that I should stay at home, we had no clue if I would be one of the women who loved staying home or if I would miss the challenges of working or even just miss the adult interaction with my coworkers.  Well I can say after seven and a half years of doing this, I have never regretted my decision. I have never been bored. Every day is something new.

With Lexi starting kindergarten next year, we have already begun discussing whether I would want to rejoin the work force or continue to stay home. Choosing to remain a stay-at-home mom would give me plenty of time to devote to my writing and would allow me to still be heavily involved with the kids by volunteering at their schools. So again, I think that will be a short discussion. The answer is obvious to me – stay at home.