Friday, December 11, 2009

The Return of the Dinner Table - Again

We are trying again to re-establish a nightly dinner routine.

We have done much better this year with ongoing community dining..but we still manage to scrounge and eat in front of the t.v. on other nights. The boys have begun looking at dinner as a time to either engage in conversation (yeah) ..or grumble and mumble about what others have cooked and state there's nothing to eat around here as they stare at a t.v. and eat. (boo)

We (Big B and I) knew we had to do something..but were too lazy and busy to address this sense of apathy. Our boys used to cook. A lot. Except for Brian who always chose "leftover night" or reheating frozen pizza. Then it happened. It was the straw that broke the camels back, so to speak. In their defense, I must state that Angee, Brian and Uncle Dave had no idea that we were dealing with a hit-or-miss grumbling dinner crew at home.

We talked to Brian-Scott and Angee over Thanksgiving break.

I think the conversation went something like this..

Uncle Dave :So Brian, tell me, do you cook much while your in Austin?.

Brian: (big cheesy grin) Hmmm Angee heats up those frozen things.

Angee: Oh yeah (motioning a frying pan on a skillet) I heat stuff up on that thing. (still motioning). You know..that thing that goes on the stove.

Uncle Dave:..and you? (looking at Brian)

Brian: Well, I can put things in the microwave..but it's better when Angee does it.

Angee:Yeah..with that thing (motioning again)

Me: You mean..the skillet?

Brian and Angee simultaneously: Yeah..that's what it is.

rian: Oh..and I make breakfast tacos almost every morning..I cook for Angee when I'm up before she is gone.

Angee: Which is almost never...

Brian: (still grinning)..and I still make shrimp tacos.

The conversation turned to other things..and then a few nights later Big B calls me at work:

Things need to change. I've been thinking about it. There is no reason that our boys should not still be cooking. Brian cooked when he was younger..and now he knows how to make three types of tacos??..and that's after living on his own for 2 years. We can't have that with the other boys. They'll all be on their own in a few years. They need to know how to cook! There is no reason why everyone can't be responsible for dinner one night a week..and that includes Mason and Michael..they need to learn too.

I was tempted to remind Big B that when the boys took turns cooking before Brian always claimed "leftover night" and simply reheated (in the microwave) the dinner that Austen and Cody had previously cooked...but I refrained:)

..and so we start. The boys protest..Austen reminds us he already cooks a lot. This is true. We tell him then he should be able to cut back, but that he can still help whoever is in the kitchen if he wants. Mason insists he's too busy. Brian reminds him that we all are. Mason grumbles about making toast..but then says he'd rather take a weekend, and asks if he can make steaks. Cody is gone too we give him Sunday.

They(the kiddoes) all grumble that sometimes they are too tired to cook. We remind them that is true for everyone. Our friends who help with community dining agree to grab whichever child has a night to help cook if they happen to be cooking in our kitchen. We cook for a family of 7. There are 6 of us..and three are teenage boys. Meaning..there is probably a friend. Community dining involves planning for anywhere from 10-20 on any given day.

So for the most part our week is like this. This is this week, it is understood that if you know you can't be home on your night, you swap with someone ahead of time.

Mondays-Michael (Pam is going to help him in the kitchen sometimes..but I am pleased to say that Michael is insisting on learning and not handing the task over.)
This week? Chicken pot pie. and boca burgers.
Tuesdays-Big B and sometimes Sandy (sometimes community dining) This week: father like son?
Wed- Austen and Sandy/Devin (community dining) Salmon patties, green beans, potatoes with mushroom and onions, choc. chip cookies
Thursdays-(community dining)..whoever is available. Zuchinni meatloaf, peas..this week Ricci and Devin cooked for us:)
Fridays-me (sometimes community dining..sometimes not) Venison roast, hawaiian rolls, salad, sliced fruit.
Saturday-Mason and Brian or Michael - steak, fries and corn
Sunday-Cody and mom (more community dining) Not sure yet..thinking cheese ravioli's with
french bread and some sort of vegetable dish.

It is true that most of our dinners are carnivorous heavy..except Sundays..but I do make sure that we have veggie breakfasts and it all balances out in the end.

It is also true that no family member is home every evening. We are (ahem..eyes rolling) busy people. Still, there is something comforting in knowing that home or not..there is a family dinner (like at a table with good moods, bad moods, essay panic, fatigue and lots of laughter) every night. What has been unexpected is the extension of this time spontaneous board games while meals are finishing, or in planning to watch a movie together after dinner, etc.

This is starting to happen more often than not.

It is nice.

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