Project Family Dinner: The How

The Plan

We have embarked on a new mission, eating the same thing, together, five meals a week, for at least a month. 

We started Project   Family Dinner with a deep kitchen clean. We wanted to try to use everything we had stored in the cupboard. 

We started Project Family Dinner with a deep kitchen clean. We wanted to try to use everything we had stored in the cupboard. 

The Rules

1. Sunday Morning Meal Planning Meeting

After an inventory of the the fridge, freezer, and cupboard, we will sit down on Sunday morning to discuss the menu for the week. The hope is that if O and P have a say and a voice in the dinner choices, they might be more inclined to be adventurous when that dinner appears in front of them.

2. Everybody Shops

We will take a once-a-week, family trip to the market. Again, the thought being, maybe you'll be more likely to try the tomato if you picked it. Jim and I have agreed to divide and conquer though, one kid and one side of the market apiece. 

3. Everybody cooks

For Jim, that might mean cleaning kale for tomorrow's dinner after we finish dishes or making a big batch of soup on the weekend.  For O, that might mean tearing lettuce for the salad or helping me stir something on the stove. For P, that might mean shaking the jar of salad dressing. For me, that just means cooking, something I used to really enjoy. But everybody cooks.  

4. One "no thank you" bite of everything on your plate.

The Tools

1. Dinner: The Playbook

This book is wonderful. It is full of tasty, low pressure recipes, good tips on dealing with tiny palates, and a healthy dose of uplifting you-can-do-it inspiration to put you on the right track. I bought it Saturday afternoon, read it cover to cover after bedtime, and implemented my Project Family Dinner the next day. 

2. These guys, and their grumbly tumblies

Check in tomorrow for our Week One Update!

One Step at a Time

At the beginning of the summer, we bought O a pair of purple Saltwaters. She loved them on sight. She wore them out of the store. Every day that she has worn shoes this summer, she has worn these shiny purple leather sandals. For those of you unfamiliar with Saltwater Sandals, and you shouldn't be because they are the best, they have an old-fashioned buckle around the ankle, the kind with the little metal frame and the little metal post, like the world's tiniest belt buckle. O very quickly realized she could slip the ankle strap of her new favorite purple shoes over her heel, thus removing them independently. About two weeks ago, after a frustrated ten minutes, she managed to undo the buckles independently, once the shoes were already off of her foot. Her current battle is the refastening of that tricky buckle with the strap around her ankle.

O, our neighbor Belle, and those ubiquitous purple Saltwaters

O, our neighbor Belle, and those ubiquitous purple Saltwaters

As I stand there, breathing deeply, trying to remember that the important thing is not how fast we can get to the grocery store, but rather her sense of accomplishment at completing this task, coaching her through the buckle's trickery, I hear myself saying, "That's it. One step at a time. Thread the strap through, before you put the post in the hole," on a loop, as calm as I can manage. My inside-self is cursing whoever created this buckle and placed it on the outside of  this tiny shoe, in a place nearly impossible for preschool-level fine-motor skills to manage. My inside-self is leaping and jumping and my fingers are itching to take the shoe from her hand and cram the sandal on her foot myself, but somehow, hearing myself say, "one step at a time," has begun to resonate. Sometimes she buckles them, and sometimes she doesn't. 

I'm trying to slow down, for them and for me. I am trying not to rush them through their steps, to give them the space and the grace to take them one at a time, on their own terms, at their own pace.

I am learning the value of focus and patience in my own work. I am trying to tackle the thing that is in front of me with as much focus and determination as O has for that tiny purple shoe, one step at a time.