Salsa and Tofutti

The inventory manager in my house (me) sucks and should be fired. This is never more true than during the summer when I am channeling Julie McCoy from the Love Boat, scheduling all kinds of activities for my kids to avoid boredom which really just means me sitting on my butt at our local pool chatting with the other Moms and continually asking my kids if we could leave so that I can go food shopping already. They never want to leave, of course, and so the hours tick by until I am forced to order take out, leaving food shopping for another day every day.

My husband, who works from home all the time and thus eats from home all the time, is usually pretty understanding and is good about cutting me slack, but recently he opened the fridge and remarked that the only things to eat were salsa and Tofutti cream cheese. This struck him as odd, but to me it made perfect sense. The only constants in my life right now, besides chaos, are salsa and Tofutti. Salsa is just so damn versatile and Tofutti cream cheese basically keeps my second child alive. When he was a baby, my second had a dairy intolerance. He has long since grown out of it physically but mentally he still can’t put anything else on his bagel. And since bagels are essentially the only things he will eat, I panic when I get low.

Most Moms I know go food shopping once — maybe twice — a week. A few really ambitious ones go shopping once every two weeks and have to attach a rented U-Haul trailer to the backs of their cars. Not me. I Stop and Shop every day. More often than not, I Stop and Shop two or three times a day, because I am only given clarity with regard to our inventory in the car on the way home. I’d like to blame my kids for distracting me but because my husband works from home all the time, my kids are usually not with me at the grocery store. And it’s not like I don’t have a list, I most certainly do, I just leave it at home.

As a last resort, I’ve created an Evernote account that allows me to make a grocery list on my laptop that will also appear on my phone. It’s definitely helping, but what I really need is a high-tech fridge and pantry system that uses sophisticated algorithms to analyze our inventory and purchase our necessities on its own, taking me out of the equation entirely. I’m sure there’s an app for that, but they must be working on the bugs still because I haven’t heard of it. Until then, I’ll be Googling healthy and low-fat recipes that use both salsa and Tofutti.

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Packing Lunch

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School begins in just two days and while unmitigated joy is still the predominant emotion, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to a little bit of anxiety. I am worried about how well my kids will adjust to their new schedules, if anyone will be mean to them, and if I will have to deal with lice again. But these not-so-small issues pale in comparison to the anxiety I have over lunch packing. Holy mother of God, the thought of packing lunches and snacks for all three kids every single morning again is enough for me to keep them home all year long. And that is really saying something.

Here is what happens. I wake up, usually late. I know there are alarm clocks but for some reason I don’t think they apply to me. Sometimes I wake up on time, but then leisurely drink coffee until I am late. So with only 45 minutes until the first bell rings, I have to put away the pots and pans from the night before, snuggle on command with each kid, make them breakfast, get them dressed all the way down to their shoes tied and teeth brushed and THEN put together three well-balanced, carefully thought out lunches and two low-sugar, peanut-free, teacher-approved snacks. With drinks. It’s madness and sometimes most times I am still in my pajamas when I kiss the kids goodbye in the car at drop-off.

I’ve done a lot of thinking about this over the summer, and I’ve decided I need an entirely new lunch and snack packing system if I am to continue calling myself a good mother. Here is what I need to do:

1.  Get up earlier, which means I have to go to bed earlier. This is not going to happen.

2.  Make two bins: one for the pantry, one for the fridge. Everything in these bins will already be individually wrapped and disposable. Think “grab and go.” Pantry bin items will include chips, granola bars, and crackers while fridge bin items will include fruit, yogurt tubes, and the one veggie my kids will sort of eat — cucumbers, peeled and sliced. I give myself until November.

3.  Make sandwiches the night before. An epiphany, since I thought my only option was to pack the whole lunch the night before. I can’t pack three whole lunches after making and cleaning up an elaborate from scratch dinner no one ate, but I can slap some lunch meat on some bread. The only caveat here is that I will need to have some lunch meat and some bread.

3.  Limit beverages to only two types: water in reusable sippy cups (I like these Rubbermaid Litterless Juice Boxes) for snack and lemonade cans for lunch. Honestly, I wish I could just skip the beverages altogether. I mean, sippy cups, juice boxes and bottled water did not even exist when I was a kid and I survived just fine. Thrived, in fact. Can’t they just use the water fountain?

I am confident that this new system will deliver me from the chaos that took over my mornings last year, and the year before that, and the year before that. I am also pretty sure it will be a breeze to implement thanks to my new daily schedule that has me cooking while everyone is in school and not in the evenings when I clearly should be focused on the next day’s lunch. How do you tackle the monster that is lunch packing?

Another Pizza Place

I know there are like 4 million mommy blogs out there, but as my husband says, there is always room for another pizza place.  I have wanted to write about the chaos taking place within my home (and my head) for a long time now, but I could not in good conscience abandon my family for the comfort that is writing, and I need at least a few hours of sleep every night, so my plans had to be put on hold.  However, now that my last child is in first grade (Last in First, get it?), I will have tons of time not only to blog but to meal plan, organize, and just take care of myself.  Right?

In anticipation of the new freedom that will be mine in just one week, I have created the following daily schedule:

8:30, Drop off kids

9-10, Walk and pay attention to dog

10-11, Shower

11-12, Food shopping

12-1, Lunch

1-2, Cook dinner everyone will eat

2-3, Walk and pay attention to dog

3:15, Pick up kids

I have included this schedule here mostly because I know it will never happen.  I will fart around on the internet, discuss politics with my husband (who works from home all the time), take a few phone calls, and procrastinate by doing something totally off-strategy like color categorizing the Legos until it is 2:45 and I find myself once again unshowered and without any plans for dinner.  Why do I do this?  I don’t know, but I really need to cut down on the chaos, so maybe by publishing this I have taken the first step?

Anyway, thanks for following along.  It’s going to be fun!