Sunday, February 7, 2010

Breakfast for Dinner

Erica here.  I ran out of patience for the week on about Wednesday. The special needs student that I teach has been unwilling to go outside on these dark, drizzly days, even during the nice sunbreaks we’ve been getting. I miss our hikes to the mudflats, where his nervous system is reliably soothed by the fresh air and fascinating, ever-changing environment, and where we I feel that we can converse and connect in a way that just doesn’t happen as often in the classroom. He misses them, too, but is too overwhelmed by the fear of cold drizzle hitting his skin to get his gear on and go out, no matter how many tricks and tools I use to persuade him. He has been spending more and more time huddled in front of the heater, immersed in his internal world, playing with Legos, and lately I leave work feeling that he finds my presence in that world irrelevant at best, intrusive at worst.

In addition, I have been fighting the raging red monster – PMS. This was one of the worst bouts in recent memory. I have spent large portions of these last few nights lying awake, and I feel brittle and threadbare, like mummified pieces of me are going to start falling off at random moments.

By Thursday, I came home from work feeling mighty low. It was taking every ounce of willpower not to snap at the girls over little things as I pondered dinner. Then my husband called to tell me he would be “a little late.” In my childless days, I would have eaten cold cereal, soaked in a warm bath, and spent the rest of the evening in bed with a pile of books. To make things worse, I had no viable plan. The salmon I had planned on preparing didn’t work out – when I had gone to the store to buy it, it wasn’t on sale for $6.99/lb after all, but was $10.99/lb. Turns out I had looked at the previous week’s sale flyer. I don’t pay that much for salmon, especially when it has been “previously frozen for quality,” so I left the store empty-handed.

The kitchen seemed filled with dirty dishes, which was hard to believe since no one had been home at all that day. However, dishes from last night’s bedtime snack, plus pots, bowls and cups from oatmeal for breakfast and the morning's tea, empty reusable containers from packed lunches, and empty reusable water bottles all added up to a mess. I complained out loud, and my 4-year-old offered to help with the dishes. “Great,” I thought, “what next?” because we all know that an offer of help by a 4-year-old is actually a guarantee of more work. I almost asked her if she wouldn’t really rather watch a movie while I cleaned up, and then I stopped and took a deep breath.

I’m not sure what made it possible for me open my eyes and accept the gift that my sweet girl had offered, but this time, I did. My pattern is usually to keep struggling to make things conform to my vision of okayness, making everyone else miserable in the process. But this time, my daughter helped me with the dishes, and it was delightful. I had to guide her in scrubbing each one with a soapy sponge, and rinse them without splashing water all over, but by the time the dishes were done I found myself saying, “Want to help me make waffles?”

We made these multigrain ones, with blackberry sauce from my frozen berries, and scrambled eggs on the side. I didn’t just pull this idea out of thin air, they were on my plan for Saturday morning breakfast, and as I helped my daughter wash dishes and started to relax, I realized that they would make a lovely supper. Just another reason why it’s so useful to make a weekly plan, even if you deviate from it. They were delicious.

The rest of last week’s meal plan:

Monday: Coconut curry chicken in the crockpot, rice, peas

Tuesday: Homemade tomato soup with frozen garlic-whistle pesto, grilled cheese sandwiches

Wednesday: Stir-fried beef with broccoli and pecans, rice

Thursday: Waffles, blackberry sauce, scrambled eggs

Friday: Refried bean tacos with feta, Mexican rice, caramelized onions, and salsa

Saturday: Leftovers

Sunday: Sole piccata with home canned pickled beets and capers, brown rice, steamed broccoli, blackberry pie

Wasted food disclosure: my lovely packed lunch of coconut chicken curry and rice, left on the kitchen counter Thursday morning in my PMS and sleep-deprived fog.


  1. Alison said; Lovely & delicious. It's wonderful to be rescued from those moments by our kiddos. Kudos to you for welcoming Sophie's gift.

  2. Ditto the kudos Erica. You were able to do exactly what that mission statement at the top of the page said you wanted to do. AND it is easy to make those decisions in times of ease, but you did it when the going was rough.