I have the honor to be a stay at home parent. Whenever and wherever I can, I make sure people understand what a complete blessing this occupation is. Daily are the gifts that make every single sacrifice and hardship worth it, ten times over.
But oh, not for the faint of heart are the struggles that tag along (sometimes daily); unwanted passengers, freeloading along for the ride. Some are serious. Like the magic act that stretches a single income delicately (like a spider's web) across all areas of domestic domain; one penny spent out of place and the entire web collapses.
Others are more light (thankfully), but (always) completely annoying. Like the daily woe of meal planning. Sure, every parent out there faces this dilemma. We've all got to eat. People are funny that way. It doesn't matter how crunched for time, hurried, or late we are, dinner in some shape or form must present itself on the table. Lunches must be tossed into bags or boxes and readied to be scuttled off to school. Even breakfast must appear, sugar coated and happy every morning.
But the catch for me, and the stay at home parent is, I'm home all day (according to society at large), and doing "Nothing" of any "Real" consequence. Three square meals shouldn't make no never mind to me at all, given my apparent life of pure leisure. Right?
Let me tell you this; the moment that idea becomes reality will be a truly beautiful thing indeed. I await it eagerly. Please let me know when it arrives.
In the meantime, I toil away smack dab in the middle of domestic bliss, often coming up devoid of ideas or the willpower to make "Yet Another Dinner". So I like to get creative with meal planning, meeting the dual requirements of Economical and Easy On Me.
One favorite we've come to enjoy is the Scatter Picnic. A blanket is set up in another room, outside the normal eating area. We've held these in hallways, doorways, and upstairs. Scatter Picnic food can be best described as "Clean Out The Fridge" or "Empty The Freezer" cuisine, made more fun by the change in venue. And perhaps the occasional frozen pizza.
Last night we plopped our Scatter Picnic blanket down in front of the fireplace in the living room. I reheated leftovers and baked an array of breaded "not good for you" delights: mozzarella sticks, chicken nuggets, corn dogs, egg rolls and onion rings. To up the health quotient, I added applesauce to the spread.
We sat together around the blanket, our little family of 4, chatting and sharing ideas and thoughts back and forth. At one point, Dan and I were talking about how nice it was to just sit and talk together as a family. How much fun it was.
Ashlyn looked up from her cheese stick and said, "But what is the point of all this fun?"
Uncertain as how to answer, I said, "So we can get to know you better. While you still like us. And will sit still long enough to talk to us."
She pondered this, glaring deep into the oozing depth of the cheese stick she'd been peeling. (She only eats the cheese part of a cheese stick.) "Oh. Okay. That is a good purpose."
We passed the rest of dinner happily. We cleaned up. We went on our way with the evening. Another dinner down: easy on me, easy on the budget.
And apparently, according the Ashlyn, with the added bonus of having great purpose.