Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Great Chicken Experiment

One "organizational" tool I use is a weekly menu. Each week I "try" to plan out my meals for the week. Sometimes is works, sometimes it doesn't. That's why I write it out in pencil. Last week I was planning out my meals for the week and everything I came up with had chicken in it. I thought, "Wouldn't it be funny to see how long I could go serving chicken to my family before they noticed or complained?" And thus "The Great Chicken Experiment" was born. These were the rules: I would serve chicken every night we were home and I would only stop when someone either 1.- asked why we were having chicken all the time or 2.- complained about having chicken all the time. Either way the word "chicken" had to be in the sentence. I have to have standards when it comes to my experiments or else they are completely useless. I mean what kind of experiment would it be if I just stopped when someone gave a general complaint about what I had fixed for dinner. Then it wouldn't be an experiment; it would just be part of the normal daily pre-dinner conversation.

I was telling a friend about my little experiment and she asked, "Are you doing this because you found a great deal on chicken?"

"No." I responded

Then she asked, "Is it because of the health benefits of chicken over red meat?"

"No." I said,"This is just how I amuse myself."

So in an effort to have accurate documentation of my experiment, here is a list of what we had each night. If there is an online recipe I used with chicken in it, I provided a link.
Day One: Chicken Fried Rice

Day Two: Chicken Parmesan

Day Three: Chicken Tortilla Soup

At this point I did start to get a few complaints, but it was things like "How come we never have Bacon Pasta?"- one of our family's favorites that Eric made up. Or "Why can't we have spaghetti?" But alas the word "chicken" was not included so I treaded on with my experiement.

Day Four: Italian Crock-Pot Chicken

To be honest in all my dealings, I do have to admit that on Day Five Eric and Finn were at a Father and Son's Campout so I had no control over what they had to eat and desiring a day off I took the girls out to eat. So day five was an unforeseen sabbatical in my "Chicken Experiment."

Day Six: Amber's Training BBQ Chicken Salad- There isn't a link for this one but I do think Amber should post it on Tried and True. It is an awesome salad for the summer that even my kids will eat.

Day Seven: JJ Loves my Rosemary Chicken

Day Eight: BBQ Chicken Pizza

Day Nine: Coconut Chicken Strips- The only thing I did different with this recipe is I dipped my chicken strips in coconut milk before I dipped them in flour and the rest of the steps shown in the recipe. These was the first time we had tried them and they were very good.
So as I was pulling the Coconut Chicken Strips out of the oven, Finn said to me "Why can't we just have spaghetti? I'm tired of all this fish and chicken." Oh, no! Does that count? I mean he did say "chicken" in his complaint but he included "fish" too. I decided to ignore it for the moment and decide what to do later. But Finn didn't disappoint. About 10 minutes into dinner he said, "We've had chicken for like 3 days. I'm tired of chicken." Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner! I smiled and at him and said, "Finn you won my game. We've actually had chicken for about 10 days." Annie said, "No we haven't" and Eric looked skeptical. I listed everything we had eaten over the past week and a half. He said, "I didn't even notice!" This was a surprise to both of us because I thought for sure Eric would be the first to protest. He is usually quite particular about what we eat and how often we eat it. I think the genius of my experiment was the fact that I mixed up the flavors and styles of chicken dishes... bbq, grilled, salads, italian, chinese, coconut, etc.
And honestly making dinner has been a bit boring since my experiment ended. Does anyone have a new ingredient I can try to serve my family everyday without them noticing? The only one I've come up with so far is zucchini, but that will have to wait until mid-July. At least I have something to look forward to...

Friday, May 7, 2010

Not in the Job Description

This morning as I was struggling with my daughters to try and do some sort of hair-do... not a fancy one mind you just something basic like a side ponytail... my girls DO NOT like getting their hair done... I was thinking how being a "hair-wrangler" was not one of the jobs I imagined I would have as a mother. Before I was a mother there were certain responsibilities I expected to have like cooking, laundry, cleaning, taxi-driving, helping with homework, shopping and the list goes on with countless duties that I saw my own mother perform. But there are certain jobs or more accurately certain nuances to these jobs that I can only suppose are in the fine print of the motherhood description. So in honor of Mother's Day this weekend, here are some of the other "not in the job description" jobs we mothers perform often:

Bathroom permission giver- Anyone who has ever had a 3 or 4 year old has had this job. At first I thought it was just my own children who would come up to me holding their pants pleading "I have to go to the bathroom."- like I was the one blocking the toilet from them. But I have witnessed other children seeking approval from me to use the bathroom. So it must be universal.

Public Bathroom Locator- This job is closely related to the above job. Again anyone who has ever had a 3 or 4 year old knows the location of most public bathrooms... whether it is in Wal-Mart or at the park or in Jiffy Lube.

Garbage Disposal- When I was a kid I remember my Dad having this job, but somehow it has fallen to me in our family to finish up half eaten chicken nuggets, already bitten bananas and crusts of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I think this is my job because I don't have the heart to throw food away and I do have the stomach for it.

Grocery Whisperer-I do not take this solemn responsibility lightly. I have to have a highly developed 5th sense of knowing exactly what groceries are in the house at all times... which ones are running low... which ones I can wait another week to buy ... and which ones we have plenty of. Heaven help me if we have spaghetti without Parmesan cheese or hamburgers without ketchup. Believe me it has happened before and it wasn't pretty.

Household Supplies Clairvoyant- Again closely related to Grocery Whisperer is the Household Supplies Clairvoyant. I don't think very many dads could tell you when the toothpaste is running low or if you are out of tape. And not only do we moms have to know the inventory of all the household supplies we also need to know the exact location of all these items. Even for the Dads, "No, Eric I don't know where you put the studfinder or last year's taxes or the remote control."

Nail Inspector &Trimmer- Before I had kids I honestly never thought of having to check the length of my kids' finger and toenails. Apparently this is not something kids take the initiative to do on their own. Now I am inspecting 50 toenails and 50 fingernails.

Underwear Monitor- I really wish this wasn't a job I have, but after doing laundry for some of my kids and only finding one pair of underwear in a week's worth of laundry I decided this situation merited a discussion about how often one changes ones underwear.

Barbie/Polly Pocket dress fastener and changer- If you don't have girls this one may not apply to you. But with 3 girls, I for one have changed many a Polly Pocket dress and fastened several Barbie dresses in my day.

Speller- "Mom, how do you spell puppies?" "Mom, how do you spell Halloween?" "Mom, how do you spell supercalifragilisticexpialidocious?"

Lunch money Allocator- It is a tricky business trying to keep track of how much money each kid has in their lunch money account. Especially when they find it mortifying to be told their mom needs to send more money or when the school sends home over a dozen notes reminding parents that students absolutely CANNOT charge a meal after May 1st. "Methinks thou dost protest too much" lunchladies!

Negotiate like a mexican flea market vendor- Case in point- Suzie wanted a drink after she had brushed her teeth and was in bed. This is how the negiotiations went while Suzie was in her bed and I was across the hall laying down on my bed because I had just "clocked out":
Suz: I want a drink of root beer in my sippy cup.
Mom: No, you just brushed your teeth.
Suz: Can I have some apple juice in a sippy cup?
Mom: No, Suz. Go to sleep.
Suz: Can I have some milk in a sippy cup?
Mom: No, go to bed.
Suz: Can I have a drink of water in my sippy cup?
Mom: No, mommy is tired and doesn't want to get off her bed.
Suz: Can I come get a drink in your bathroom?
Mom: Alright... as long as you get up on the sink by yourself.

X-ray vision to see dirt on the floor, smudges on the windows, weeds that need to be pulled- I am truly like Superman in this respect because I am the ONLY one in my house that has this super-power.

Quality Control- I am the supreme authority on the state of all things in my house-from how close the milk is to going bad to whether an item can be fixed, saved for a sibling or sent to DI.

Phone Directory - I must have an accurate, current knowledge of all home phone and cell phone numbers of all friends and their parents, family members, doctors, piano teachers, schools, gymnastic centers and poison control.

I know this list could go on and on. And I don't meant to sound like I am complaining about all the extra duties. Motherhood is the hardest, most rewarding job on the planet. And one of my biggest prayers is there is a mother of one daughter and three mothers of sons out there who don't mind doing all the thankless, invisible jobs that allow a child to be a child so they can one day grow up to be the kind of parent who will do all these jobs for my grandchildren. My only intention is to bring a little humor to the daily-ness of motherhood. One of my favorite quotes about motherhood was said by my Aunt Kathryn. She was a bit older when she had children and had had a successful career before becoming a mother. My mom once asked her what she thought of being a mom. She replied with exhaustion, "Its just so daily!"
So Happy Mother's Day to all my favorite moms out there- mom, mom-in-law, aunts, sisters, sisters-in-law, grandmoms, friends, neighbors, soon to be moms- and thanks for daily doing all the "Not in the job description" jobs!