Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Why I have always made my kids' lunches

I've been asked this question numerous times throughout my kids' school years.  Why don't your kids make their own lunches?  It's a good question!  Usually it comes with a little sprinkle of disbelief, because it doesn't gel with the level of independence and responsibility we generally require from our kids.  The last time I had this discussion it was with someone who has only known me a short time, and doesn't know our family dynamic all that well.

To be fair, Mr Busy has broken all the rules of expectation.  I don't actually make his lunch for him, but I do send him to school with a bag full of tinned spaghetti and cup-a-soups.  And yes, that doesn't gel with my beliefs about food vs food-like products either.  But this is a difference between the boy eating and not eating.  Like his father many years before him, I found a number of lunches languishing in the bottom of his school bag, and I am vehemently opposed to wasting my time and energy making food for people who won't eat it.  So the man people in our house get no special lunch treatment.  The flip side for Mr Busy is that he won't take food if he has to make himself.  I'm paying a pretty penny for him to go to school, so I want his brain to actually work.  Therefore I send him with things he'll actually eat.  And that can sit in his bag or locker and won't go off.  It's a definite compromise on my part, but I think it's working, for now.

The real reason I've always made my kid's lunches (and was prepared to make Mr Busy's through to the end of Year 12 as well), is purely and simply about my own self-preservation.  Yes, they can do it themselves.  They all cook dinners, they're all very capable.  But this is the barest, most selfish reason for making lunches for capable people:

I can't stand listening to the kids fighting the kitchen in the morning.  Cannot.  Even.

When the three of them were still in school I would make their lunches and pop them in their designated colour of Tupperware sandwich box along with a snack and piece of fruit next to it.  It was their job to pack it into their insulated lunch box and into the bag.  There.  They won't totally devoid of responsibility in the process.  Just the being in the kitchen part!

These days I have no idea if the girls are at Uni for lunch or at home, or at church, or at work...  Baby adults with University schedules are a whole other beast.  I only really make my own school lunch now, and provide Mr Busy with non-perishable options.  And a lunch order on Thursday's.  Yep.  The youngest is spoiled, because I got tired of parenting.  Sorry girls.  You wore me out.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Monday's Weekly Menu Post

A miracle happened on Saturday - I managed to get my grocery shopping done instead of doing it on Sunday.  It's been something on my mental list of things I wanted to change, because I really don't enjoy shopping (you already knew that, if you've read here long enough) and doing it on Sunday just always felt like a double whammy of unenjoyable.

Somewhere along the line, I feel like I'm winning at a bunch of organisation things.  Especially at work....I don't know how it happens, but my weekly planning is zooming along so well.  So is my menu planning at home.  Don't you love it when things seem to come together, almost despite yourself.  I enjoy those moments because inevitably something will come along and bite me in the butt at some point!

In any case, this week's menu plan, all planned up and shopped for on Saturday.  Oh glory be!

Sunday:  Homemade burgers
Monday:  Lasange (homemade from the freezer)
Tuesday:  Veggie plate (a plate full of all kinds of steamed and roasted veggies)
Wednesday: Rosemary balsamic chicken (I'm gonna try the crockpot...wish my luck)
Thursday:  Freezer meal = Meat/Chicken pies, frozen veggies, jacket potato
Friday:  Fend for yourself Friday

There's the week's meals planned.  Now to get myself sorted for my final assignment for the  year.  I am so looking forward to having an actual day off, rather than unpaid days where I still fulfil my contractual obligations.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Mum's Minestrone and a Crockpot Win

I have always been a reluctant crock-potter.  Partly because of the fare my mother produced in hers, when I was a child.  My mother and I have very different styles of cooking and preferences in food.  By far my tastes are more complex!  I am also more willing to put in more effort.  Don't get my wrong.  Mum is an excellent cook.  She just doesn't enjoy it, and isn't motivated to do more than necessary.  Also behind my crockpot reluctance is having produced some less than wonderful results.

My crockpot is as old as the hills, as you can see from the image below, which I found on Gumtree.  It was advertised as "retro".  Well, I'm not that old, but I have been married 26 years and this thing was a wedding gift.  It's not had that much of a workout and still works exactly as it did when we got it.  Mum insists the old crockpots were the best and not to get rid of it.  I've been a little more dubious.

Despite all of my reluctance and not-so-great experiences, which have included dry, stringy meat, I decided to give that thing another whirl.  I have Wednesday's off, so I figured that would be a good day to experiment, since I'm home to watch over it.  So, into that pot went my Mum's minestrone, minus the ham hock and beans.  I ended up having it on high all day, and it simmered very gently the whole time.  I turned it on low for a little bit, but everything just stopped moving and sank to the bottom.  I'm wondering whether 'low' is really just for keeping things warm, more than cooking things.  The last time I left something on low for 10 hours the carrots were still a little crunchy and the meat wasn't that tender.

An hour before I served dinner I threw in a few handfuls of risoni pasta and by the time we were ready to eat it was perfect.

That soup was the best thing I've cooked in the crockpot for years.  This coming week I'm going to try a rosemary balsamic chicken recipe and see how we go.  It was beautiful in the oven, so it had better live up to our high expectations!

Mum's Minestrone

Finely chop and saute an onion and 2 cloves of garlic, and then place in the crockpot, which is set on high.

Chop up into a fine dice:
3 carrots
1 zucchini
3 celery stalks
Throw into crockpot

Also add a tin of chopped tomatoes, Italian herbs and 1.5 litres water.

Set the crockpot to high and let it simmer for the day.  An hour before cooking add 3 handfuls of risoni pasta and cook for another hour.  You'll need to stir every now and then to make sure the pasta doesn't catch on the bottom.  You'll want to add salt (or not) to taste, depending on how you cook.

Serve with warm crusty rolls.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Monday means menus

What a day!  It began with a stereotypical Melbourne wintry morning.  Rain.  Grey, dark clouds.  Cold.  I had four students away and the rest were, shall we say, quiet and rather still.  Except for the two boys who decided to make some not-so-great behavioural decisions.  Sigh.

After hibernating all of Saturday, I managed to plan menus for the week, put together a grocery list and shop.  I also remembered to buy prizes for the room that went to sleep first, and the tidiest room, from camp.  And you can bet the kids were asking about those prizes....but I need to coordinate with the class next door and that just didn't go smoothly today with staff dropping like flies all over the place.

My successful menu plan is currently looking like this:
Monday:  Pasta bolognaise
Tuesday:  Thai chicken curry, rice, roti bread (Mr Busy cooking)
Wednesday: Mum's Minestrone (a bean free version) (me cooking)
Thursday: Honey soy chicken, veggies, rice (Miss Sunshine or me cooking)
Friday:  Fend for Yourself Friday
Saturday:  Burgers and wedges

Bonus for me, Mr Busy made the pasta to freeze and take on his snow camp last week.  It remained frozen and returned home, so that was dinner tonight.  We're all very happy not to be cooking!

What's on your dinner plates this week?

Sunday, 6 August 2017

After that I hibernated

I have slept.  And slept.  And slept some more.

This morning I realised that this is the first camp I've been on (as a teacher) where I have not had to be at school the day after returning.  And I realised why I got sick last year, after returning to school and having to teach the following two days.

Saturday was the day I hibernated.  I slept.  I watched some YouTube subscriptions.  I slept some more.  I popped out to get a family meat pie and some frozen veggies for dinner.  I may have read a chapter of my book, and then I went to bed reasonably early to sleep some more.

In the space of 24 hours, I slept for 11 of those hours.  Today I feel pretty good.  My feet have stopped aching and I happily went and photocopied all my stuff for Monday.  On Saturday I just couldn't face it.

The antidote to being on camp is definitely spending the next day sleeping.

Friday, 4 August 2017

You know you're a teacher when....

I've just spent 3 days on camp with our Year 3's and 4's.  Can I say, 8-10yo's are absolutely the best people on the planet?  Well...maybe except at 4am.  No child is lovely at 4am, I don't think.  No people are lovely at that time unless they are tucked in their bed and sound asleep!  Miss Niece, I'm looking at you!

I decided, this morning, that answering ten thousand questions before breakfast could be a form of actual torture.  Here are some questions I answered before 7.30 this morning:  MrsT, can I go to the toilet?(repeat x1000)  MrsT can I get a drink? (repeat x1000)  MrsT can I jump on the trampoline?  MrsT, can I go to the games room?  MrsT, what's for breakfast?  MrsT what is "GaGa Ball"?  MrsT, how many hours til I see my Mum again?  MrsT can I borrow your socks?  WHAT?

This was my actual conversation with one of my boys this morning:

Boy:  MrsT I only have one dry sock, all my other socks are wet.
Me:  Well, I can't really help you with that.
Boy:  Could I borrow one of your socks?
Me:  Hmmmm, ummm....nope.  That would be weird.  And what makes you think I want to share my socks with you?
Boy:  Oh well, that's mean (imagine a puppy dog-eyed stroppy face)
Me:  Yep.  I'm mean, you know that.

I don't know how he solved his problem, but I never heard about it afterwards.

Also on camp, one of our boys, who has had both his feet amputated.  He is an amazing, inspiring little fellow who participates in everything with incredible resilience.  But two prosthetic legs/feet makes for hilarious conversations that, out of context, are totally weird.  Things like "M's toes are breaking so we've duct taped them back together.  We'll give you some more tape just in case they break during camp."  And "Can I please take my legs off?" Then a funny story about his legs getting stuck and having to call Mum for instructions to remove them.  Apparently he was quite non-plussed, but his face suggested the adults in the room were distinctly unknowledgeable!

Camp is also about big wins.  Like my niece eating tomato, and one boy staying all the way through camp, and being brave enough to ask for something different when the food offered was not going to work, and having a go at games that looked confusing to start with, and hundreds of other things that our little people overcame.

One of my boys ended the camp saying "This felt like such a short camp!"  Three seconds short and ten years long all at once!

Now I'm going to sleep for a couple of days.  And not answer any questions.  None.