Friends for dinner

Friends for dinner

We had our good friends Meghan and Steve over for dinner last night. Though we’d planned the night several weeks ago, we both forgot until we were headed over to my sister’s house yesterday afternoon for some help putting together the car seat we’d borrowed from her (that’s another blog entry).

Given that it was about 2 pm and they were due over at 5 we were in a bind. We left my sister’s house about 3:45, stopped at the supermarket on the way home to pick up a few ingredients and dessert and rushed home. I didn’t actually get to start cooking until about 4:30 while Melanie frantically ran about the apartment trying to clean up. (Much of which consisted of shoving things behind closed doors.)

Given the limited time we decided that trying to impress with fancying cooking (these are old friends after all) was out of the question so I went with a reliable pasta and sauce dish, combining some ground beef and loose sausage meat with red bell pepper, carrot, celery, mushrooms, tomatoes, and onion and a splash of vodka (the tomato’s best flavors are alcohol soluble so it’s always to cook them with a little snootful; science is your friend in the kitchen), into a nice gravy for the penne. I dropped some salad greens into a bowl along with a tomato, cucumber, and jarred roasted red peppers. The store-bought loaf of bread went into the oven and a bottle of Chilean Malbec was uncorked. Our friends brought a very tasty carrot and broccoli dish whose recipe came from the Moosewood cookbook, I believe.

This was the first time we’d seen these friends in months and months, at least since they were engaged last Christmas. They’re due to be married on July 14. (“Storm the Bastille!” as a wedding slogan doesn’t seem to work, sadly.) I tried to refrain from (a) talking about our child all the time and (b) giving advice about weddings, marriage, and childrearing. We weren’t completely successful, but neither did we fall into the parent trap of talking only about marriage and kids. We talked about travel, mutual friends, family, my friend’s job at Intel designing chips, and more.

Socializing and parents of toddlers

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  • As a parent of 6 with one on the way, I wouldn’t advise waiting.  grin  Could be a long wait.

    We just came home from a camping weekend with 2 other families from Church.  I love the Catholic culture of our camp outings.  Parents aren’t afraid to administer disciple, even to children other than their own.  The mom and dad isn’t tied to watching every child all the time.  We had the whole area to ourselves and with 13 years on down to 2, there was plenty of kids to watch each other.

    Trying to avoid the dreaded “advice” here, but we tend to just do things even though we have children.  We aren’t the organized, overly on the ball super parents; but we just do what we enjoy which usually includes the kids.

    That freedom thing is sort of an illusion in my mind.  Before kids and with the first couple I tried to hang on to “my” time.  But that just left me empty, looking for more “my” time.  Now I have finally come to the understanding of fatherhood.  It isn’t about me, but us.  And how to enjoy our journey towards heaven.

  • KaleJ,

    My big question when I hear about family outings like your camping trip (which sounds awesome) is what do you do about naps and kids who need an early bedtime?

    Bella takes two naps a day now that last anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours. And she goes to bed at 6:30 or 7. She doesn’t sleep well anywhere besides her own crib. We do try to go out and do things but when she misses her naps or we’re out past bedtime, we’re in for a couple of cranky days before she catches up on sleep and resettles into her usual routine.

    I know every kid is different and some have the amazing ability to sleep anywhere; but she doesn’t seem to be one of them. Have you run into similar issues with your kids?  And, if so, how do you manage other than doing what we’re doing and waiting until she’s older and won’t need to nap so much and can go to bed later? Or are we being too sensitive? Do you just let the kids miss out on sleep for a while, and deal with the crankiness?

  • Melanie, as the mom of three kids, all very different, I can tell you that you sort of have adjust to the kids and the kids sort of have to adjust to you.  My oldest was (and still is) a routine kind of kid, and trying to take him out when he hadn’t had his nap was just asking for trouble.  Our solution was to try to adjust naptime to fit in our schedule.  We were lucky in that he would fall asleep in the car if it was more than a couple of hours since his last nap, so if we had something to do in the early afternoon, he’d get a car ride in the late morning.  My daughters haven’t been as schedule conscious. 

    Another thing to look at if you are finding the nap routine too confining is adjusting bedtime.  She needs a certain amount of sleep, and at a year she can’t make it all day without a nap, but most kids her age don’t need two naps if they have an early bedtime.  On the other hand, if the two nap schedule works for you, and you enjoy having family time in the evening, no need to change it.

  • Melanie,
    We just tend to be flexible with naps and such.  Most of our kids regretfully don’t take naps or like to sleep.  Our 4 year old will not take naps (he will lie in bed for an hour or so without sleeping.)  With our two year old, I got him to take a nap by laying with him in the tent for 10 minutes.  some of us just stayed around camp to keep an eye on him. 

    As far as bed times, we put most of them down just after dark and s’mores of course. 

    I guess it just works out because we don’t plan on much other than food.  We are their to enjoy ourselves and if that means taking a nap or spending some time watching a baby, then that is what we do. 

    And yes there usually is a bit of readjustment after we get back.  Some crankiness, a mess of stuff to put away, but it is worth it.  I am not saying this as a judgment, but the more kids we had, the less we stressed about the individual needs.  and when an issue crops up, our Catholic friends support how we handle it.

  • Instead of “Storm the Bastille,” would not “Let them eat cake!” be a more appropriate wedding slogan?