Trying some new things this month: a working parents guide to not medicating with wine

Well, it’s July 1st.  That means that here at Blueberry Acres, we are sliding downhill (fast) into August where our little Blueberry will start her first day of “real” school.  I began to get misty eyed about it as I thought through the month of June and decided to take her out of the part-time preschool that she has been attending.  Seemed like a good plan at the time.

However, that means that now in addition to working from home part-time, taking care of Blueberry Acres full-time and occassionally shaving my legs…I need to find a way to provide care for the squirt 24/7 while working to keep that balance without having to sneak into the kitchen to fortify myself with wine on days that end in a Y.

Enter in quiet time.  We have decided that we will follow the advice of oh-so-many other bloggy moms and dads with structured quiet time.  While I wish my little Blueberry still slept in my arms, the reality is that those days are gone.  However, I still need (crave, depend on, am crazy for) that quiet time in the afternoon where I feel like if I have to answer another question from a 5 going on 23 year old, I will lose what is left of my mind.  As a result…we’re going to a post lunch regimen that involves the kiddo going to her room for exactly one hour each afternoon.  What she does when she gets there doesn’t matter to me as long as no cats are involved, she doesn’t blow the roof off the house and no hour ends with a fun ride in an ambulance.  Beyond that, she can read Dostoyevsky, play with her guys or paint her toenails blue..whatever.

Beyond the solitary confinement quiet time, we’re trying to be a little more loose on bedtime so that she can enjoy more evening farm time.  I don’t know if I have ever seen a more beautiful fireworks display than the one the fireflies put on around here at dusk.  We’re also asking her to be more involved with the evening poultry routine.  What’s that you ask?  Well, often it’s where I stand in the various poultry yards trying to convince everyone to go into their coops while cursing their moms and telling them I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving, etc.  It’s not my finest moment.  But, add in some Blueberry, and well things get a lot easier…that kid is the dang chicken whisperer.  She has had an almost magical pull over these birds from day one whether they were chickens or turkeys and she can wrangle them into the coop with limited effort.  It helps reduce my workload and stress…but also gives her a little extra shot of exercise after dinner.  While it means that she goes to bed a little later, it also means that she is sleeping in a little more.  That works nicely for me!  While Sheldon would prefer to be strict with the routine, I’m finding that a little flexibility here is going a long way.

Introducing regular chores of her choice.  We have struggled with this for a while now.  We want to introduce the concept of a weekly allowance, but we don’t want her to think that money will always be handed to her without work.  When we have tried to introduce chores for dollars in the past, it’s fizzled out fairly quickly.  Especially when she gets her piggy bank and tries to pay me to do some of her chores because she doesn’t want to.  Obviously she has mastered the concept…it’s just not of interest.  So, now we are going to one unrewarded chore per day (in addition to picking up after herself) and we’re hoping that by doing so, we’ll continue to get her to invest in how things operate, look, etc around here.  Plus, if she is doing more then we are doing less.

But, I’m curious…for the other bloggy moms/dads out there….what do you to balance your day?

Happy Homesteading!

Sneaky foods: Cauliflower mac n cheese

We are pretty blessed by the fact that The Blueberry has a fairly diverse and at times, refined palate for a 4 year old.  She has tried and enjoyed every kind of fruit and vegetable that we have, every protein product under the sun, a variety of stinky and non-traditional dairy products as well as cultural specialties.  You know what she doesn’t like?  Pickles and mustard.  That’s about it.  However, that is not to say that she is a perfect eater.  Far from it.  There are days that I fear she would starve if cheese and peanut butter didn’t exist.  During those times, she typically eschews any kind of fruit or vegetable product instead driving us crazy by constantly requesting what she considers to be the four basic food groups: chocolate, candy, milk and butter.  Not exactly a balanced diet.

During those times, I am happy to be inspired by books like Deceptively Delicious and The Sneaky Chef whose sole mission seems to be to feed our children the way we want them to be fed without them knowing it.  Sounds like ridiculous parenting, no?  Well…no.  I mean-think about it.  Of course I want my child to prefer a carrot stick to a chic-0-stick but it isn’t always going to happen.  Despite the efforts I put into making a variety of healthful, veggie filled meals, there are going to be times where her stubborn nature rises and she says “Actually, momma.  I’m a dragon and I don’t eat vegetables anymore.”  (Sigh-quote from lunch yesterday.)  During those times instead of forcing her to come to a joy of veggies and fruit on her own, I’m going to give them to her while letting her feel that she has won the food battle.  Enter in sneaky mac n cheese.

This is a great recipe for days where you have too much going on and not enough time.  I’d love to give you a totally healthy scratch recipe for mac n cheese, but that ain’t happenin today.  Instead I give you Annie’s white cheddar mac:

picture courtesy of Annie's

picture courtesy of Annie’s

And God’s awesome creation.  That crown of cruciferousness.  That casanova of caulis.  That babe of brassica…Cauliflower.  Also known as “I’m not eating that crap” in my house.

pic courtesy of God.  Oh, and health.com

pic courtesy of God. Oh, and health.com

So anywhoo…cook your mac and cheese according to the box directions.  In the last 30ish seconds of cooking time, drop in a few pieces of frozen cauliflower.  It could also be fresh, but dang, that stuff is expensive in my part of the country and almost impossible to get organic, so we go with organic frozen.  While your mac is draining, take those now nuclear hot pieces of cauliflower (owwie, my hands) and drop them into a blender with 1-3 Tablespoons of milk and the cheese flavored packet.  Well, not the whole packet..you know, the contents….blend well.  Return the smoothish (as smooth as cauliflower can be) back to the pan to warm up.  Once warm, incorporate your mac and voila…healthier mac n cheese!

I typically sprinkle “shreddy/sprinkley” cheese on here to disguise the slightly lumpy texture, but The Blueberry eats it up like crazy.  And I’m crazy about the fact that despite her efforts to the contrary, I have just provided a more nutritionally sound meal with not a lot of extra time/effort.  If you get a chance, I’d love to hear what you are doing to sneak in some health for those “no way” days!  Happy cooking!