Family Dinners?

Do you have them? Do you have them every day? Every week?

Here’s an episode of The Current on the topic from last week. The interviewee is Laurie David (Larry David’s wife) and she’s a huge advocate of family dinners and how to get your family back to the table, and why you should want to put forward the effort. No surprise she’s on the show to promote her new book: The Family Dinner: Great ways to connect with your kids one meal at a time. Laurie’s discourse on the radio reminded me of an episode of Oprah from a season or two ago in which she spent time with families to reform their dinner times. Oprah saw families that were ordering takeout and each taking their food to a separate part of the house to eat on their own with their digital device of choice (texting, TV, laptop, whatever). The Oprah episode horrified me, but even Laurie’s interview seemed to indicate that the family dinner is a challenge.

More nights than note, we have dinner as a family. My kids are 2 and 5… so I can’t really imagine how they would get fed if we didn’t sit down with them. That said, we have friends whose nanny feed the kids before the parents get home from work, or whose kids get a big snack at daycare and don’t eat dinner, or who simply don’t enjoy the toddler meal and have a husband/wife dinner after the kids go to bed. I’m inclined to think that the latter is a great idea for us to try, at least once or twice a week.

But for now, we’re still the old fashioned four of us sitting down for dinner. It might not be fancy – in fact it’s definitely not fancy, but we’re there. I’ve been warned that this will get harder and harder to do as the kids get older. We’ll see. For now, Monday’s are definitely a challenge, as both boys have classes as 6pm. So we usually have eggs and crudités at 5:15. When the boys are older, I expect they’ll have more activities, but I’m also hoping we can push our dinner time back to 6:30 or so. Now if we have dinner at 6:30 the boys are falling asleep by the time we finish at 7pm.

I would love to hear success stories of how you’ve managed family dinners? Who’s able to get their 7/9 or teenage kids to the table for dinner more nights that not and how did you do it?

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Planning for 2011

And here I thought maybe my blogging days were over. When I went back to work after mat-leave there was quite a hiatus from my wonderings and ponderings. But I’m still an Ottawa based mom who’s trying to raise her family of boys to be healthy, happy, well-adjusted boys and eventually men.

A friend sent me a note a while back asking if it was her. Was she the only mom who found that there was no ‘me’ time? She’s resorted to getting up at 5am to have a moment of piece and is quickly finding the kids hear her rustling in the house and are now getting up even earlier. It’s not her, it’s moms. Regardless of the age of your children or whether you’re at home or in the office – it’s busy, and the list of things to do is way too long. As soon as you cross 2 or 3 things off your list, another 4 or 5 seem to get added.

Last year I decided there were too many things to keep track of – aerobic exercise, weight training, yoga, family hiking, core strengthening, eat veggies, eat fruit, get enough fibre, don’t get too much saturated fat, get enough protein, no whites, take your multi-vitamin, and your vitamin D. Wait isn’t using a sauna supposed to be good for you? The list of do/don’ts was too long, and this was just the health oriented stuff. I divided my good intentions into a series of monthly ‘to-do’s. My premise was that if I did something for a month, there was a chance that I’d be able to a carry the habit forward So January was take your vitamin every day month, and February was daily exercise (as opposed to a couple of times a week), etc. Well I had fun making the list, but I don’t think I got very far with it. I found the schedule while cleaning up some office paperwork the other day, and am now working on the revised 2011 version.

This version I’ll share with you, my family and friends. I’m also trying to make it less serious: incorporating new activities– perhaps kickboxing or latin dancing, or date night ideas into the mix. Let me know if you have any suggestions.

 

 

Eco Energy Audit – Part 2

We finally have our second ecoenergy report.  This is the report that lets us know whether all the work we’ve been doing over the past two years is paying off from an environmental  point of view.
 
We had an environmental score of 57 (out of 100) and have moved up to 74.  Typical houses of our age (built in the 60ies) are at 61 and the most energy efficient would be 83.  In theory the jump from 57 to 74 has allowed us to reduce our energy consuption by 45%.  This last point is more than true of our gas bill.  This change has also reduced our GHG (green house gas) emissions by 10.1 tonnes per year.
 
In terms of airleakage, we had a rating of 4.6 ACH.  This is the equivalent of a 1.2 sq foot hole in the side of the house.  To 3.39 AHC or .85 sq ft hole.  This doesn’t seem quite as dramatic.

For anyone out there that is in the midst of doing one of these things, all I have to say is document, document, document.  We have our energy report, but not rebate money just yet.  Turns our our “receipts” were really signed quotes, or receipts for installation, not the purchase of the product, and in some cases non-existant.  We’ve been taking pictures of the work, scouring through old photos to document the work in progress and doing a lot of back and forth to have the report submitted. 

Lent: A season of change for everyone?

Time for a change?
Time for a change?

Forgive what is undoubtedly a blasphemous topic for this post…

I’ve been thinking about Lent. My particular brand of church doesn’t have any strong traditions with respect to Lent as a season, apart from the sermons, the liturgy surrounding Lent is a pretty tamed affair. When I was at University, a good chunk of the student body was Catholic. At the time I became accustomed to hearing “can’t do it… I gave it up for Lent” or “no dessert for me, I gave it up for Lent.” In school the give ups were mostly: beer, cigarettes, dessert, chocolate and occasionally meat.

Long out of school, the phrase “gave up for lent” doesn’t come up very often. When a friend of family member mentions it, I assumed that: a) They were catholic, and b )more religious than I had originally realized. But other than that, I gave it not much thought. Turns out I was wrong on both counts.

In the save way I’ve adopted Chinese New Year as my own personal holiday and set of traditions (in spite of not having been to China), my friends are adopting some of the Lenten traditions, because they resonate with them. These friends view it as an opportunity to :

  • Make a break from any bad habits that have crept up over the past year (or 10!)
  • Introduce positive lifestyle change
  • Put a halt to the consumption of all baked goods… in case that didn’t end at New Year’s
  • Introduce a new habit (or kill an old one). 60 days (or there about) is plenty of time for the change to take hold
  • Even if you don’t make a permanent change, 60 days without “pick your poison” is better than 60 days with it.

Yet another variation on this same theme is to not only “give up” something for Lent, but also to “add” something positive. This is akin to the Oprah style of management – if you want to bring something new into your house, you have to give up something. Now the big question is what to pick:

Give Up Add
  • Meat
  • Whites (flour, sugar, salt)
  • Wine (that wouldn’t be much fun)
  • TV
  • Bad TV
  • Dessert
  • Starbucks
  • Takeout
  • On-line shopping
  • Saunas
  • Yoga
  • Early bed time
  • Packing my lunch
  • Meditation
  • Supper prep (this has lapsed of late)
  • Exercise (daily, not ad hoc)

I’ve seen it all

Every time I travel, I see or learn something new. Lately I’ve been connecting through Chicago. Long the bastion of velvet track pants and McDonald’s takeout, my expectations for O’Hare are not very high. But this week’s “something new” was a low point, ever for Chicago. Two ladies boarding my plane walked on with a medium pizza in a cardboard takeout box. The thing hardly fit down the isle. She had to hold it up, because it wouldn’t fit between the seats. This made the guy next to me munching on a quarter-pounder from McDonalds look refined.