right now

right now

Oct 9, 2011

Running ragged!

It's the kids' fault, but how can I possibly say "no" to extracurricular activities like this?

I just haven't quite figured out how to balance all of it and still maintain family dinners together, homework time, reading time and a decent bedtime.  I don't believe in "overscheduling" kids, in reality it's just swimming and music lessons with monthly garden club stuff, but I am in awe of moms who seem to be able to do this all and maintain a job outside the home, as well.  Hats off to you gals!  I think the secret might lie in doing a better job of preparing freezer meals and crock pot type stuff, but it's hard to remember far enough in advance to get something going.  From the moment they get off the bus, it's rushing through homework and heading off for 2 hours of swimming Mondays & Wednesdays, or music lessons on Thursdays.  We don't get home until 7 pm so dinner 3 days a week now involves quick bean burritos at home or my favorite quick dinner, eggs & toast!  I refuse to drive through fast food restaurants for dinner so it's becoming difficult.  For the past 12 days or so hubby hasn't even made it home before 7 pm so poor him... he's left to fend for himself whenever he rolls in!  I need advice in how you gals handle it all!  I can't say "no" to swimming - Loch is really good at it, at 8 he's already doing a pretty good butterfly stroke and gets a lot of confidence from the sport, and that's really important for these types of kids - (read:  little genius but has 15 left feet, can't catch a ball, etc...) - at his age he is subject to teasing about being a "nerd", etc but wow most kids his age can barely swim, let alone to his level. Sooooo, if you get what I mean, as a mom it's all important that he has this "thing".  Music, hey it's a lifelong skill and pulling them out would seem a waste of money at this point since they would forget everything, and... they like it!  Now they have expressed interest in Boy Scouts, and Loch came home last week and said he wants to run for some student government thing... come on, ladies, tell me when to yell UNCLE!  

So that's what's been keeping me from my evening blogging lately, I'm hoping to develop some kind of schedule that includes myself this week :)

A glimpse of our evenings lately...

This is Loch's school garden.  He got picked with about 30 other kids to participate, and they were planting broccoli and lettuces when I picked him up the other night.  They also got to hear a talk by a local organic gardener, CSA grower and honeybee farmer (that's him in the beige shirt).  What I want to know is why I can't seem to get the neighborhood kids to all posse up in my garden like this, ready to work!

On to swimming... seriously.... it's a madhouse in there!  For those of you who wondered, this is where I try to get my knitting done but the other night the A/C wasn't working and it was about 105 in there and my yarn got all wet LOL...

The other day Finn wanted hubby and I to have lunch with him at school... here we are looking for the white milk...?
Don't get me started... this is why my kids take lunch from home.

Luckily they do a pretty good chef salad, and after finding a couple of white milks hiding below the sugary ones, we sat down to eat.

Here's a random moment that struck me as funny.  The other night hubby was trying to show the kids how to tie a tie, but the kids were still having trouble so he brought it up on YouTube and they all commenced to be entertained for about a half an hour like this.  I'm thinking this would make a funny scrapbook photo :)

Once again, Finn is on duty outside for the ladies.  Here he is removing the training wheels for his little friend.  She rode right up and asked if Finn was home and could he come outside and "work on her bike", LOL....

Managed one decent comfort food dinner the past week... our own potatoes, mashed with sausage and onions and some of our peppers.  It's our own version of Bangers n' Mash, and everyone seems to gobble it up with no complaints.

If you have any advice as to how you keep "family time" and "family dinners" while running kids around, I'm always appreciative!  Especially you Judy, of Full Freezer... I know you are still knee deep in it! :)

Next activity up for today:  kids' haircuts!  They are already moaning and groaning about it.  


  1. It's hard work keeping it all going, I agree. I try to use the slow cooker on days I know we'll be out late but I don't always remember so we do breakfast for dinner, too. I also make tuna fish or sub style sandwiches or even grilled cheese and soup are easy, fast and everyone likes them.

    Your tie picture made me smile. We tried to teach a bunch of Cub Scouts to tie ties last week. I don't think we were all that successful, but we sure did have fun!

  2. PLANNING!!! I found much better sanity when I started doing a weekly meal plan. I look ahead at what is going on in the evening after work/school and plan accordingly. Some nights we eat later than others- like Monday when Justine has orchestra until 7. Fortunately, she is now able to drive herself which helps tremendously. I love my crockpot and we've got several standby 'quick meals' for busy nights- burritos is one our ours as well. I pre-shape hamburgers and freeze them into meal sized bundles for quick cooking from frozen.
    But, seriously, planning ahead is the key.
    Good luck and enjoy the time- it goes really quickly!

  3. I agree that planning ahead is the key! I also agree on limiting the activities as kids need time to be kids and family time and dinner are very very important. I had three, my son, my daughter and I also raised my nephew. It did get crazy at times. But we always ate a real dinner and if the ex was not home (self employed) we took the dinner to him and ate there.

    I also had dinner requirements with them when they were in High School and working. It was mandatory that 3 nights a week we had a family dinner together. That also meant at times we would go eat with them in the parking lot at work. My son thought that it was stupid until he grew up. He said it was one of the best things that I did.

    My son was also that little genius nerd who always got picked on. He did out grow being a nerd before he went to HS though.

    That's too cute about Finn and the little ladies!

  4. Get used to sitting around waiting to bring the boys back from activities. I wished my kids wanted to be in more activities but then we couldn't afford them anyway.
    My fast meal is sandwiches and soup, homemade of course. Fast to make and can accommodate my picky eater. We'll add a salad or cut up veggies.

  5. Erin, I don't know how some Mom's do it either. A lot of our friends have their kids in a different activity every night, going out to eat and coming home way too late. Here, Hannah goes to Gymnastics every Monday and Nadia has Taekwondo on Tuesday's and Thursday's. Generally I cook big portions over the weekend which means there is normally enough leftover for at least one, maybe even two meals. There is probably one sandwich night every week, BLT's, homemade pizza or stromboli are also quick and easy favorites. Now that it is getting cooler, I will start using the crock pot for stews and such more often, too.
    Love the tie photo!!

  6. have zero advice, as I have never been a working Mom, or a 'soccer Mom'. And that photo is priceless!

    The only dinner idea that came to mind was quesadillas made with the small tortillas (folded in half), I see them in little ziploc bags at whole foods in the prepared food section often, and I bet they wouldn't be bad cold if packed to eat on the run. And they can be made with leftovers. Similar to your bean burritos, but different. :) Oh, and maybe cold pasta salads with some kind of protein in them would be good to pack up as well. Thermos with chili, tortilla chips on the side. Leftover stir-fry in rice paper things for spring rolls (I like to make them with those thai noodle mixes in the yellow box with added veggies and chicken). I better stop now. So much for "the only dinner idea" I had in the beginning.

  7. I used to make triple of any meal and freeze the other two "meals" for days when things were hectic. Much easier to pull a fully cooked entree out of the freezer and heat it. I'm glad you don't do the fast food thing. That stuff is garbage!

  8. How about spending a bit of time Saturday or Sunday making a b-i-g pot (triple the recipe) of mince - that can be served with spaghetti, or as cottage pie with a mashed potato (which can cook whilst the kids are in the bath) topping browned underneath the grill in the oven, or even inside stuffed squash / butternut. (That's three meals) The you've got mince filled taco's and, finally, mince filled pancakes. The cooked mince should last at least 3 -4 days in the bottom (coldest) past of your fridge.

    A second meal which stretches is roast chicken - if you cook a couple at the same time, then it can be served as it is, secondly, as chicken la king, or chicken pie (with a bit of ready made frozen pastry defrosted in the fridge during the day whilst everyone's at work / school) or in a pasta salad. Finally, left over roast chicken, with fresh veggies, all combined into a soup - easy, breezy meal :)

    Then, as Tina said, tuna is easy. Especially tuna pasta - one of the quickest meals I know :)

    And pasta is a good carbo meal - to give you're little ones a high energy meal (professional cyclists apparently eat mountains of the stuff before a race for just that reason).

  9. We honestly have to cut back on the extracurriculars. By the time we get home in the evenings, it's 5, I cook dinner while the kids do their homework, wait for the man to get home and we're eating by 6:15-30. Then, it's bath and bed and we start all over at 5:00 AM the next day. He's in boyscouts on the weekend, but I can't justify other extra curriculars that would have the kids out after their bed times. 5:00 just comes too early.

    And then, when there's a federal holiday and God and everyone else is sleeping in, the kids wake up at 5:45 clamoring that they're hungry. Nothing is sacred.

  10. I'm dreading having to mitigate school lunches (and the extra-curriculars). Why is it so hard to feed our school kids right?

  11. I had to put my head on my desk and take a nap after reading this post! No tips from me - at least with furred dependents, I can give them a rawhide strip and tell them to go lie down. I doubt if that would work with kids...;o)

  12. Hey Erin, I'll do a post on my meal plan for the week with 'annotations' on activities. This week isn't too bad- only three nights with things going on!

  13. Y'all are awesome, some great ideas here! I am planning to sit down and attempt to make a menu tomorrow morning and assess the contents of my freezer!

  14. I know I'm late chiming in here but for what it's worth: Erin, m'dear, you are doing a FANTASTIC job on what is important with the boys. The only thing that gets shunted aside is "you" time or time for you and your handsome hubby. That's not good but if you remember that that's important, too, you'll remain sane. (Well, mostly.)

    You're very conscious of over-scheduling so I don't thank that's going to happen. You have an intelligent, wise parental "eye" and give the boys what they need. Permitting Loch to get involved with student government and keep up with the swimming is such a good thing. Who knows, scholarship to college for swimming? Being active in school government and/or the community looks good on college applications.

    Soup is my mainstay as far as a convenience food. You can make big pots and put serving size containers in your freezer or can them. You can get so many nutrients in a pot of homemade soup. Also, because we don't eat out much, having entrees or hamburger patties or veggies or even rice in the freezer is invaluable for quick meals.

    I know it's almost overwhelming right now, but these years do pass. And you'll miss them.

    Your picture of your "Bangers 'n Mash" looks delish. Must make!

  15. in my metric standard i also used a solar cokker once but it was too difficult to use it for a longer period of time.

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