Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Grass is Greener...or the Chicken Tastes Better

Yesterday we had awful, awful weather here in the Chicago area. Non stop rain and it's still raining today. My ducks are back. My mallard and his lady friend were having quite the time in my pond-like backyard. Perhaps too good of a time....we may have ducklings here soon. Great. Like I don't have enough mouths to feed here as it is. Oh. And I planted my garden. So, of course Peter Cottontail is back too and looking rather fat. I sent Andrew outside to scare him away. I need to go get one of those fake looking plastic animals to keep in my yard so Peter and his friends don't come back. Then, I found a limping squirrel. It's like Old McDonald's farm here full of special animals.

In any event, due to all the rain, baseball was cancelled last night and that left us with no plans. So, I decided to defrost some chicken and actually cook dinner for the first time in weeks. Many of you know about the dinner struggle here between the children and me.  So...I decided to stop fighting and to just make life easier for all of us. I had no menu plan. Each night, I asked them what they wanted and I made it. I was playing short order cook, but, everyone ate every night and there was no fighting or prodding anyone to eat. So, things were calmer. It was almost zen like. But, dinner for Steve and myself became a struggle because we didn't want what the kids were eating and we'd stare at each other trying to decide what to eat. Yesterday, I decided I wanted real food, hence the chicken.

The boys came home from school and around 430, the questions began. What's for dinner? I told them we were having chicken. Well, what kind of chicken, I was asked. I told them the kind that I make for you. (No one liked that answer) Andrew said he wanted BBQ chicken, so that was what I made. Meaning, I poured BBQ sauce over chicken breasts and threw them in the oven for an hour. My good buddy, Uncle Ben, provided the rice pilaf and I sliced up a bunch of raw veggies. Issac went on to tell me how he doesn't like BBQ chicken and could he make himself a sandwich. I told him to go for it. But, he didn't do it. (Not sure if he was feeling that lazy or started to think that maybe the chicken would be decent enough to eat.) Everyone sat down...and here's the thing....EVERYONE ATE EVERYTHING. There was no whining, complaining, kvetching or prodding.  I was in shock. Steve had to work late so it was just the boys and me. It was so pleasant. Then, some wanted ice cream after dinner. And, since they ate dinner so nicely, I told them the freezer was their playground.

When Steve came home, I sat with him while he ate dinner. He told me that last week the little guys asked him why I stopped cooking dinner. (I like how I first heard of this last night.) Could it be, that chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, pb&j sandwiches and noodles aren't as appealing as home cooked food???? Could it be that the boys didn't realize how good they really had it? Maybe frozen, processed, sodium filled food isn't quite as tasty as food made with the best ingredient of all, which, as we grownups all know, is mom's love? I'd like to think my boys learned to appreciate what they have. But, I know better. Today, if I were to cook, I am sure they wouldn't enjoy it. So, maybe we need to find the happy medium, and I can stop killing myself to cook every single night. If I mix it up and alternate between "real cooking" and the "food" they really like, we can all be happy and not argue.  I'd like to believe that I have found the answer. But, I am not naive. I know that every time I think I have found the answer, things change. So I'll just savor the memory of last night and the taste of the super delish chicken.

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