30 minutes……. GO!
Yes, that is how it goes down at my house. I love the idea of family all coming together as one to gather around the table, gently embracing one another's hearts and hands in thankfulness to the Lord above for the abundant nourishment set before us. It’s a beautiful picture of how it would ideally go down in perfect world (or Heaven for that matter) but what we get in reality rarely resembles anything of what our perfect ideal would look like. We instead sit down as a family, set the timer for 30 minutes, and…
“Mom what is this? Dad, can you cut my pork, Is that fat? Gross…. (Luke scream) Why did you put spinach in the pasta again? We ALWAYS have to eat spinach… Can we have breakfast tomorrow night? I love Cookie Monster! (huh?) (Luke scream) Luke, say ‘more’, MORE!, MORE!!, MORE!!!, MORE!!!!, Mom, look at Luke, he’s spilling juice all over his shirt, I don’t WANT to eat! I want to eat outside, I want to eat in the dining room, I want to have a picnic, Yeah, Mom, Can we have a picnic? How much longer do we have until the timer beeps?”
I cook. I really enjoy cooking. I like trying new and deviously nutritious recipes like cabbage rolls or strawberry, buckwheat, oatmeal muffins and making up concoctions while crossing my fingers hoping that they turn out. For example, I’ll secretly throw a bag of spinach into about anything or the other night I used mango habanero kale chips (that everyone gagged over as chips) instead as a bread coating for a cream cheese chicken recipe. I enjoy creating homemade healthy meals for my family; it’s a way I feel like I can show them love and when it comes to my husband, there’s some saying out there about the way to a man’s heart…. I strongly concur that delicious food is an effective ways to reach a man’s heart.
My family generally eats well, but they don’t always appreciate the effort. I would love to be able to say that there are oooohs and ahhhs of amazement and gratitude towards all of my wonderful effort and skill (there is one consistent ooohhher and ahhhher, the other grownup in the family but only because he has realized that it is probably in his best interest; aka the other way to a man’s heart…) there are most often exclamations from the smaller beings of, “Yuck what is this green stuff? Why does this taste like our cleaner? (Mrs. Myers Basil cleaner apparently tastes like some of my meals) or, why does this chocolate ice cream taste like yogurt?" (Um, because it is yogurt…)
Dinner time generally starts at around 5:30 and as soon as we sit down the timer is set for 30 minutes; which at times can feel like 30 hours. I hate sounding drill sergeant like in how we do dinner but we have some majorly pokey eaters who would sit, swishing their food around and around and around their plates, conversing about anything and everything, all to avoid eating at any cost. Dinner time is really not something we want to prolong for hours with 7 young children. The 30 minutes was implemented and has made everyone focus on the fact that we are sitting down, as a family, to enjoy in partaking of nutrients together. If dinner is eaten within the 30 minute marker, dessert is offered- always. We don’t do snacks, we do dessert. Having a snack immediately after school has, in the past, left me with a bunch of kids who had no interest in eating dinner. The compromise has become that there will always be dessert; whether it’s brownies, cake, strawberries, or a piece of candy, there is dessert offered 95% of the time. To get dessert though, each Ronne individual must finish within the 30 minutes and lick their platters clean. That means we eat the crust on sandwiches, the slimy green stuff in the casserole, and the pepperoni on the pizza. Everything is everything – period and then they get their cake.
Each child is allowed one food item a year that they absolutely do not have to eat. Most of the kids were not real wise in their decisions this year and picked things I never make, like spaghetti squash and bread pudding. One child was particularly wise and picked peas, an item he doesn’t necessarily detest but an item he knows I make all the time. Therefore on nights when peas are presented he doesn’t have to eat them. The other kids have caught on and when it comes time to renew the contracts, I believe they will all pick smarter, and I may not be using peas anymore, hmmmm, okra anyone?
This dinner system works well for our family and it allows us as parents to ensure that each of the kids complete their after dinner chores in a timely fashion; a table washer, floor sweeper, dishwasher emptier, and dishwasher loader. Seems only fair, especially if the mom has been slaving away making spinach supreme and chocolate yogurt, yum……
Just keep livin!!