Unbusy

Some of you may have noticed that I’ve been writing on my blog sporadically at best this fall.  I mentioned in my last blog post that I had good reason so today I thought I’d share a bit about why it’s been so quiet here over the past few months.  You see, every year starting in August/September my work schedule gets pretty intense (it’s the nature of the beast in my industry).  Combine that with the kids starting school, the fact that I’m typically organizing travel plans for the year, gearing up for the start of hockey season, etc… well, let’s just say that life gets a little crazy around here.  For the past 6-7 years we’ve done what we could do brace ourselves for “busy season”, but each and every year seemed a little crazier than the one before.  While our schedule and daily life felt somewhat out of control during those stretches I found comfort in that everyone around me seemed equally busy.  I began to wonder if maybe “busy” was the new black.  It seems a lot of people, my family included, were running from one thing to the next in a state of self-imposed busyness.

Then last Fall I stumbled upon an article titled “The Busy Trap” by Tim Kreider.  Wow.  Talk about an article that nearly knocked me out of my chair.  I read the article not once, not twice, but three times in a row.  I printed it, highlighted it, let it soak in, and did a lot of self reflection on how I was contributing to our “crazy busy” schedule.

In the article the author says, “People are busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety, because they’re addicted to busyness and dread what they might have to face in its absence. Almost everyone I know is busy. They feel anxious and guilty when they aren’t either working or doing something to promote their work.”  That part hit me like a ton of bricks.  As an entrepreneur I feel wired to work.  I pride myself on my ability to multitask and manage a heavy workload…especially with a lot of looming deadlines.  Then I read further in the article where Kreiger  follows up saying, “Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.”

Right then and there I decided that this year would be different.   I didn’t want “busy” to be the pace of life our kids remembered about their childhood, nor did I want busyness to serve as their existential reassurance.  No longer was I going to fill my schedule so full that I had to sacrifice my quality of life at home.  No longer would I stress myself out trying to write blog posts, promote my work, or anything else that would push me into the “crazy busy” category.  It’s not to say that we aren’t involved in activities.  The boys are still involved in school activities, they still play hockey, I’m still working.  The difference this year is that I’m doing everything I can to protect our schedules.  It’s meant turning down work, saying no to some speaking/traveling opportunities, taking a break from writing on my blogs, limiting time on social media, etc…

Becoming purposely “unbusy”  has allowed me to enjoy Fall, one of my favorite seasons of the year, for the first time in a very long time.  I feel reconnected with my family and I’ve been rediscovering things that feed my creativity.  Obviously this has been a great thing for my family, but I also have to say that it’s been great for my business as I’m much happier with the quality of the work I’m producing now that I don’t feel so rushed and hurried.  Which leads me to my favorite part of the entire article where the author states, “Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done. ”

So, there you have it…a little explanation as to why the blog has been relatively quiet for the past few months.  I have no plans to stop writing as this blog does serve as a creative outlet for me.  I just hope you’ll understand if the posts aren’t as frequent as they’ve been in the past.

Today’s “quick-and-easy” lunch seemed fitting considering today’s topic.  The lunch includes peanut butter roll-ups on lavash bread, broccoli, raspberries/blueberries, hard boiled eggs, almonds, almond flour chocolate chip cookies all packed in a Planet Lunch Box

 

 

Posted in General | 3 Comments

All eyes

Happy Halloween, everyone!  Today’s post isn’t exactly a “lunch”.  You see, over the years we’ve struggled with how to manage dinner on Halloween night.  We’ve tried time and time again to have the boys sit down and eat dinner with us before we head out Trick or Treating.  However, it seems the boys are always far too excited to sit down and eat a meal which means they leave the house with empty bellies.  Then while we are out  and about collecting candy in the neighborhood the kids eat a piece here and there and here and there and here and there (I’m sure some of you can relate).  By the time we get home the boys are so full on candy the last thing they want to think about is eating dinner which usually means they go to bed with yucky tummies.

This year I thought I’d try to mix it up a bit and offer a heavy after school snack before the excitement of Trick-or-Treating has hit.  My hope is that the food will sustain them and maybe even keep them from consuming massive amounts of candy.  Having said that, if you’ve been following my blog for a while you know that I like for my kids to enjoy treats on special occasions and tonight is definitely one of those nights.  It’s a chance for my kids to experience a tradition and build memories with family and friends.  It seems the older my kids get, the better able they are to regulate themselves when it comes to consuming candy and/or other junk food.  This leads me to believe that all the effort we’ve put into educating our kids about how food impacts their bodies and encouraging them to be mindful of what/how much they eat is finally paying off!  We’ll see if the same holds true with all the treats tonight, but I’m hopeful this snack might just do the trick!  (Pardon the pun.)

Now because both of my boys seem beyond anything “cute” for Halloween I decided to create a snack that’s a little more “creepy” than cute.  This “I’ve Got My Eyes On You” snack includes:  English muffin pepperoni pizza, hard boiled egg, banana toast with “Nutella”, grapes, ChocoPerfection Mint Chocolate Mini Candy Bar.

Posted in holidays, seasons, themed lunches | 1 Comment

Boo’d

You may have noticed that I’ve been unusually quiet here on the blog over the last few weeks and I have a good explanation, but I’m going to save that for another post.  Today I want to share something that has become one of my kids’ favorite traditions around this time of year…The “Boo Basket”.  When my boys were little an anonymous neighbor left a basket full of Halloween goodies on our doorstep with a note saying that “We’d Been Boo’d”.  My kids were delighted and poured over the treats for days.  It was such a fun experience not only receiving the surprise, but also paying it forward!  We decided right then and there that we wanted to continue this tradition.

Each and every year the boys look forward to delivering the baskets and we all love seeing how far the Boo Baskets spread around town.  When we go out Trick or Treating it’s so neat to see a variety of “We’ve Been Boo’d” signs hanging on a number of doors.  I love this new tradition for several reasons, but mostly because I think it helps foster a sense of community among neighbors.

The boys had fun helping me put together this year’s baskets and last night they successfully delivered them without being seen(although if my neighbors read this blog post I may have just blown their cover…so neighbors, if you’re reading this, SHHHH!!!!).

This year we filled the baskets with mechanical pencils, notebooks, mini erasers, eyeball bouncy balls, plastic spiders, and sheets of stickers!

Below I’ve created a “You’ve Been Boo’d” Free Printable for my readers for any of you who would like to do this with your own kids!  Click HERE for the FREE DOWNLOAD!

To celebrate our annual “Boo Basket” tradition I created a Boo-themed lunch which included:  turkey ghost sandwich with white American cheese accents,  grapes, broccolini, gluten-free snickerdoodle cookies, almonds

Posted in holidays, themed lunches | 2 Comments

Polska

It’s been quiet here on the blog over the past few weeks, but I promise it’s for good reason.  Two weeks ago we decided (rather spontaneously) to host a 19-year old hockey player from Poland for the 2013-2014 season.  Being a billet family is something we’ve talked about in years’ past but the timing never felt right.  That is, until this year, when we heard a player had arrived from Poland as a late add to the team roster.  We talked about how fun it would be to host someone from another country and to give him a “taste” (pardon the pun) of America.  Without giving it a lot of thought we called the billet family coordinator and told her we might be interested.  At that point we learned that another family was already considering taking him so we assumed it wasn’t meant to be.  Fast forward one week and we got a phone call from the coordinator telling us that the other housing arrangement fell through and that if we were still up for it we could be his new host family.

We received that call on a Thursday and she asked if we could be ready for him on Monday of the next week.  Anyone who knows me well can probably imagine what the next 72 hours looked like. My first step was to call my parents to see if they could come up and help with preparations. They arrived the next day and we kicked it into high gear preparing a room in our house for him, rearranging our kitchen to make room to extend our table to seat five, and organizing pantry cupboards to make sure we had room for all the food it would take to feed a 19 year old athlete.

Here’s a little peek at the room we pulled together over the weekend including the Polish Flag wall art my Dad made using salvaged wood along with two new nightstands he built from scratch. (It pays to have a handyman for a Dad!)

By Monday morning we were all beyond excited to welcome Filip into our home.  The boys were a little awestruck at first but it didn’t take long before they were showing him around the house and talking about all the fun things we could do while he is here.

Since his arrival I can safely say that having Filip join our family was definitely meant to be.  There is no question that he is the perfect fit for us! He’s quiet, well-spoken, very polite, hard working, witty…the list goes on and on. We couldn’t have asked for a better role model for the boys. Combine that with the fact that the kid LOVES to eat which is great because I LOVE to cook!  And cook I do…feeding a 6’3″ 19-year old athlete could be a sport in and of itself.

Before Filip arrived I think we were all anxious to teach him about life in America, but the fact of the matter is that we’re learning a lot more from him.  Hearing his about his life in Poland and dreams for the future is both fascinating and inspiring.  It’s definitely an honor to be his host family!

Today’s lunch represents Filip’s home country POLAND (a.k.a. Polska) and includes a peanut butter sandwich on Lavash bread with homemade fruit roll up and white American cheese accents, strawberries, cheese curds, tomatoes, hard boiled egg, and a Polish candy bar Filip brought for the boys to enjoy!

 

Posted in General, international, themed lunches | 8 Comments

Not So Hot

Looking back through my blog I realized that I’ve shown a lot of my cute or specialty creations, and not very many of my “everyday” lunches.  I also talk a lot about what works well for us, but rarely share things that don’t work so well!  The other day I pulled together a lunch that gives me the perfect opportunity to share both an everyday lunch and one to file in the fail category.  Don’t get me wrong…it wasn’t an “epic fail”  (trust me when I say we’ve had some doozies) but it certainly wasn’t one of my better lunches.

You see, the night before I packed this lunch I made up a bunch of roast beef/cheese and ham/cheese sliders and wrapped them in foil so we’d have them on hand for busy nights between football and/or hockey practice.  My fifth grader was so excited to see them in the fridge the next morning and he begged me to pack one in his lunch.  It seemed easy enough so I was happy to oblige.  I heated the sandwich in the oven for a good 15-20 minutes, pulled it out and let it cool slightly, and for good measure wrapped it in another layer of tin foil in an effort to keep it warm until lunchtime.

When my son came home I found an empty lunch box which I took as a good sign.  However, when I asked him how he liked his lunch he said it was “ok” with a look on his face that told me it wasn’t great.  I asked for details and he explained that the sandwich was cold (which would have  been fine) except the bread gets really crunchy when you bake it so it’s a lot easier to eat when it’s warm.  He also said that he was still REALLY hungry when he finished so evidently even though it was a bigger/heftier sandwich than I normally make it wasn’t enough for my growing boy.  I’m learning that it takes a fair amount of food to fill him up so I’m going to have to pack his lunches accordingly moving forward.

So, there you have it!  An everyday and very much imperfect lunch.  Until I can find a better solution for keeping sandwiches warm until lunchtime the sliders will have to be reserved for after school snacks or dinners on the run.

Posted in General | 2 Comments