Monday, December 15, 2008

Re-Post: Meal of the Week

I think I am not alone in my dinner menu boredom, and I know I am not alone in my struggle to get small mouths to accept my kitchen creations. This idea is something to boost the excitement for you and your kiddos when it comes to family dinner. Each week we have a special meal (usually dinner, sometimes breakfast or lunch depending on my husband's schedule) based on a theme drawn out of our Meal of the Week jar. My son is involved in planning the menu, shopping and preparing the food. It helps him feel adventurous about trying the new foods and provides opportunities for learning moments along the way. At the end of our special dinner we choose another paper for the following week and the anticipation starts again.
Here's our jar. Nothing fancy at all.

The themes influence the food, or the decorations, or both. Here is our current list of themes to get you started on your own:
No utensils/silly utensils (ladles, spatulas, etc.)
Backwards (dessert first)
Taste Test
Progressive Meal (room to room)
Dinner and a movie
Eat out
Boys cook

You can also try using a favorite book, movie, or song as the basis for a theme. If you are familiar with another country, or know someone who is, definitely use it for a theme. Be creative and make it fun for everyone.

Midweek Pick Me Up
I've been sitting on this article for a few weeks, waiting for the right time. Since this week's theme is Smile, I figured my moment to share has arrived. It's a short CNN piece by Robert Barnett (a former Parenting health editor) titled: How to Be a Happier Mom: 8 Ways to Focus on the Positive

Barnett states that to be a happier mom first we must value what we do, and then we need to find ways to enjoy it more. He gives 8 suggestions to help parents do just that. You have to check it out to get the full story (which I highly encourage), but let me share a couple points I particularly appreciated.

(Re)consider your priorities
"It's how you spend your time, not your money, that counts."

Go with the Flow
"Bringing more of your best qualities -- your strengths -- to the often mundane tasks of child rearing can also help you feel more engaged."

Say thanks
"Feeling grateful is a mood booster."

And two more quotes I couldn't resist sharing:

"Of course, even if you do all of these things, you'll still have bad days. But at least you'll be less likely to think there's something wrong with you."

"Happiness is more than just that smiley feeling . . . It's also feeling a connection to something larger than yourself. When people are in service to something bigger, they describe their lives as filled with meaning. It's not the smiley face, but when it's all over, you realize you'd do it again."

I came aways from this little article yet again rediscovering (how many times will I have to "learn" this principle?) that I am in control of my happiness. By harnessing my thoughts I can guide my feelings with a decent degree of success. I love the empowering ring to that idea.

One more thought. I believe that as a parent masters these methods for thinking positively, a powerful example is set for those ever observant children. So, while keeping my smile during during motherhood is important to me (absolutely crucial to my sanity at times!), passing these skills on to my son is even more significant. What could make a mother happier than to see her child learn to love all of life's ups and downs because they have been prepared with the right tools?

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