I heard a story on NPR a few weeks ago about impoverished Chinese women who live in remote regions of China. The story was about the struggles these women endure to raise their families and work the land as their husbands, forced by their economic situation, are emigrating to cities for months at a time to work low-wage factory jobs to send little sums of money home.
For about three and a half seconds I thought … yep … that’s my life.
You see, my husband works in the movie business and has been in Vancouver, Canada, since January working on a film. He won’t be home until mid-August. And we miss him something fierce.
It’s so easy to feel frustrated because I’m alone with the littles all day every day. That running to the store is never just a quick stop. It involves car seats and carts and hand holding and kids asking for things we don’t need or I don’t want them to have. It means being the good guy and the bad guy (sometimes at the same moment). It means saying “no” often … and refereeing a lot of sibling squabbles. It means being strategic about finding time to take a shower. It means taking out all the garbage. Mowing the lawn (or shoveling the snow … depending on the day). Washing all the dishes. Cleaning up all the messes. It means trying to make sure the littles remember how much their dad loves and misses them.
It means not having strong arms around me when things get overwhelming.
And then I came to my senses and got over my pity party because to compare our struggles with that of a Chinese peasant who might not have a roof over her head and works in the fields every day not because she happens to like gardening, but because if she didn’t work the fields her children wouldn’t eat … yeah … I got over my pity party fast.
And then I decided I needed to step it up with regard to how I approach these months our Cowboy is away.
You see, it’s easy to get depressed and want to just sit in the house and watch movies all day. And in the midst of our snow-heavy winter, with short days and cold dark nights, it seemed like a totally okay option.
But the littles don’t deserve to be short-changed on experiences because it might make my day a little more complicated.
And that’s not just about making sure they got to the ski hill, or get to ride horses, learn to swim and go to the park. It’s about little things, too. Like making sure we sit down to a civilized meal at least once a day. It’s about giving them opportunity to try new activities and new foods.
Because even though I’m a real food blogger and spend way more time than I should caring about the food that goes into my body and that of our littles, I am still human, and it’s easy to slip into the pattern of making something easy for dinner, which is not always the “good” choice. It might be organic pasta with butter, but it’s still pasta with butter. Or sourdough pancakes. Or egg tacos. Carb-overloaded ease. I still have a responsibility to expose the kids to a varied diet of good greens and grassfed-pasture-raised proteins even if it takes me a few minutes to prepare.
To be honest, they don’t love it all. Some nights I’m sure they would prefer pancakes. But once in a while there’s a moment when even I’m surprised by what they like.
Balsamic Brussels Sprouts
- 3 cups of Brussels Sprouts (quartered)
- 1-2 TBLS Avocado Oil
- Sea Salt & Pepper (to taste)
- 1 Shallot (finely chopped)
- 1-2 TBLS really good Balsamic Vinegar
Wash and quarter Brussels sprouts and toss in one to two tablespoons of avocado oil and then put them in a roasting pan in a single layer.
Turn the oven to 400 degrees and place the roasting pan in the preheating oven.
When the oven reaches temperature (it takes ours about 10 minutes to hit 400), stir the Brussels sprouts and let them roast for another 15 minutes.
A few minutes before the sprouts are done, sauté the chopped shallots in just a dash of oil until they are translucent. Remove the shallots from the heat, add the Balsamic Vinegar. Then take the sprouts from the oven and toss with the balsamic and shallots. Serve.
Makes 4-6 servings.
Surprisingly easy to make tasty Brussels sprouts that go great with steak or fish or chicken or on a big leafy salad. They look elegant and taste delicious. I would serve these at a dinner party, for sure, if my life was about dinner parties these days. Since it’s not, I’ll just keep sharing them with the kiddos and be grateful for whatever challenges this life has to offer.
SHARED on Kelly the Kitchen Kop