Embracing Imperfection at Family Mealtime

Family DinnerMiguel and Zeca play soccer year around and both did martial arts until recently. Now,  Zeca goes twice weekly without him. She also takes guitar lessons and Miguel has a ton of homework every night now that he’s in junior high. Luisa travels for work and is gone for big chunks of time during which I’m taking the kids to activities, supervising homework, preparing all the meals and – the worst part – doing all the dishes while trying to manage my life as a freelance writer.

We are busy which is part of what makes family dinner time so important to us. It is the one time each day we know we’ll connect with each other. We feel closer to the kids when we know what’s going on in their lives and the kids feel closer to us because they have our full attention. Our phones are tucked away in a different room and we are fully present in a way that I’m ashamed to admit is more the exception than the rule.

It didn’t surprise me then to learn that families who share meaningful meals together are happier and more emotionally connected. Parents are less likely to feel stress. The kids do better in school and have more confidence. They are hardworking and independent rule followers.*

I think my kids missed the memo about the rule following part of this deal.

It’s clear that shared meals are important but family life is also crazy and most of us struggle to find balance between work and family. Plus, there are so many things parents feel bad about when it comes to meals. Maybe you plunge into despair if your chicken isn’t free range because “Oh my god! What am I feeding my kids?” Maybe you get pizza more often than you’d like to admit. Maybe your kids bicker over  who gets the “special fork” and while it escalates to the point that you worry someone might actually get shanked, you ponder moving to a yurt. Alone.

We need to let go of the idea that every family dinner has to be idyllic and cut ourselves some slack. We are not perfect. Our families are not perfect. Life is not perfect.

So, how do we embrace the chaos of our busy lives and still sit down together for dinner?

My family does not eat dinner at the same time every day and we do not always eat meals that would look fabulous on Pinterest. Sometimes, we eat dinner at 7:30 p.m. on a weeknight. Sometimes, Luisa is out of town and we have to eat without her. Sometimes, I make pasta and use sauce from a jar and cut up some fresh mozzarella for a little protein and only realize after dinner that I forget to serve a vegetable. Sometimes, we’re tired and crabby and still – we sit down at the table together. And if for some reason we can’t, we don’t dwell on it and try again the next day.

My advice is to be flexible and treat yourself with compassion. We are all works in progress.

I’ve shared my tips with you. It’s your turn to share yours with me. You don’t have to tell me to ditch the “special fork” because we dealt with that - nobody gets the special fork!

You can share your tips here but remember that if you use #sharethetable on Facebook or Twitter, you join the greater conversation and Barilla donates 10 meals to Feeding America. Sharing is good.


*This information taken from Share the Table: Benefits of Family Dinner for Parents and Children, a study by Dr. William Doherty

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Barilla, however, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive sentiments towards Barilla or their products.


Peep Week 2014 – Day 7


My first peep movie debuted on this blog in 2009. I had actually shot the footage in 1998 on a Hi8 camera and it took me 11 years to figure out how to digitize and edit it.

It was meant to be a one time thing.

And here we are…5 years later.

2009: JAWS

2010: Peeparazzi

2011: Bunniver’s Travels

2012: Peepeii

2013: The Dance of the Peeps

The quality has varied over the years and after 2012, I wanted to retire because I didn’t believe I could do any better than Peepeii. I took a year off and let the kids go it alone last year and thought I would quietly phase out the Peep Week movie.

But people expect things and I hate to disappoint.

I realized something though. I need to keep it simple if I’m going to keep doing it. So, that’s what I did. We built an imperfect set. The kids served as the only grips, moving the people and objects. I took deep breaths when they moved them too much and let go when the camera got bumped. I shot this on my dining room table using only my iPhone 5c and the Stop Motion Studio app. I edited and layered sounds in iMovie.

When it was all done, Zeca said that I was “a little controlling.” She’s right – I am. But she forgets sometimes that I am a work in progress and I’ve come a long way. When I finished editing the movie last night, I watched it all the way through and could see the mistakes and ya know what? I didn’t care.

We made a movie and the final scene may just be my favorite scene of any movie I’ve ever made.

I present to you the Peep Week 2014 movie: Peepnado!

Peep Week 2014 – Day 6

peepnado In years past, I have done a peep cocktail as Peep Week winds down – probably because I want a cocktail by that point.

This year, however, I decided to do a non-alcoholic cocktail because I have a lot of sober friends and because I knew my kids would love a chance to try a Peep Week signature drink!

So, last night, I made Peep Mai Tais! I got the recipe from Peeps: Recipes and Crafts to Make with Your Favorite Marshmallow Treat by Charity Ferreira.

The recipe is for one drink so I doubled it because I have two kids. MATH!

Peep Week 2014 – Day 5

peepnadoIt’s already Day 5 of Peep Week – time is really flying by in that “Wow! I should probably build a set and come up with a shot list and figure out that whole peep movie thing that is supposed to be done in two days!”

HA HA HA HA! Ha. Heh. Ahem.

But today is about pie – lemon peep pie, to be precise! In preparing for Peep Week, I thought about how much I love lemon meringue pie and then I thought about how much meringue is like marshmallow and then I thought about how peeps are just marshmallows and then I thought, “Let’s make a lemon peep pie!”

So, we did.

I used a whole wheat pie crust from the coop because that makes the pie healthy. Kidding. I used a whole wheat pie crust from the coop because Luisa was going to the coop and I was all, “OH MY GOD PIE CRUST FOR PEEP PIE NEED NOW PLEASE!”