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Scattered Sundays

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I’m back from my trip to Denver and it is back to reality! It was so nice to see my friend and her family, and also so refreshing to be away from MY kids for the first time since January 2020. I’m not sure if you know this or not, but my boys are wonderful, but also crazy and exhausting.

I flew into Denver on Friday afternoon and left on Monday afternoon. We had planned the trip in May after my second vaccine shot and back when things looked oh so hopeful. If I were in the position today to plan the trip, I probably wouldn’t have, knowing what we know about Delta.

That being said, every step of the trip I felt as comfortable as I could, given the circumstances. It was the longest I have ever worn a mask before in one sitting (public transportation + wait time at airport + plane ride) and I did better than expected. Major shoutout to anyone working all day in a mask in any position.

Stories about badly behaved adult travelers have been all over the news, and I was thankful I did not encounter any. I have zero patience with grow people acting like toddlers. I don’t even want toddlers acting like toddlers.

Upon arriving at the SeaTac airport, I did notice someone in the security line not wearing a mask. TSA did NOT come to play and yanked him right out of line, had a chat, and he returned (to the back of the line) masked up.

a woman wearing a backpack with a cat in it

Bennett’s ultimate dream backpack.

Recently, Costco had a box of small packets of bleach wipes, and I stashed one of them in my backpack to wipe down my armrests, seat belt, and tray table once I got on the plane. I noticed my two seatmates giving me the side-eye while doing it, and thought “oh, boy, here we go”. But they both said “hey that’s super smart. Can we have one too please”? And yes, I shared!

I think travel, like anything these days comes down to a personal comfort level/risk tolerance. My position might be different if Bennett were old enough to be vaccinated. Or if Troy, my sweet nephew, and my beloved mother-in-law didn’t have asthma. Or if Troy didn’t go to work and encounter people in vulnerable medical situations each and every day.

Between when I planned my trip and my actual trip, my friend and her family decided to sell their house and move. I offered to postpone the trip until things were less chaotic, but Anne informed me that she wanted to see me…and needed someone tall to help her replace all the smoke detectors in the house. My presence felt valued. Ha!

a woman on top of a ladder

I also was gifted the task of cleaning out the food storage cabinet to match all containers with their lids and to help purge kitchen items. Find yourself a friend like Anne who gets your skillset and knows what brings you joy.

We enjoyed a (masked) movie, which was my first time in a theater since February 2020. I’m not sure if it was the actual movie (Free Guy), or just being back amongst people, but the movie was hilarious. I can’t wait to watch it again with Troy when it comes on Disney+ in another month.

I got home Monday evening, later than expected due to delayed public transportation. The boys gave me giant hugs, and Bennett attached himself to my leg like an amoeba. It was nice to be away and it was nice to be back. 

4 women smiling in a group pic

An outdoor brunch with good friends, and a breakfast burrito the size of an infant.

Soccer season is in full swing in our house, and it feels like the before times again. As Bennett’s coach, I had a brilliant plan to align his practices with Jack’s practices. We had it made in the shade – all the practices on just two days a week at the same location. No extra trips or anything. It was a perfect plan! Narrator: Little did they know, it was NOT a perfect plan.

Jack’s coach of three years ended up having a shift change at work and was no longer available for practices. He had to make the hard decision to step down as coach, which was sad for everyone involved.

Thankfully, a new (and experienced!) coach stepped in at the last minute but needed to practice on different days than the first coach. So, we went from two glorious days of practice a week…to four. And one of them is a Friday evening. Whomp whomp.

Jack is also really excited to do track this fall at school, and I found out that practices are five days a week (FIVE. Who needs to run that much? Nobody!) right after school. This means there will be a nine-week overlap of nightly track and soccer practices. It feels like we went from 0 to 60 in about .2 seconds!

I’m thankful that my job is flexible and I won’t be commuting; otherwise, this would not be possible. My old job had me driving almost two hours round trip a day, with terrible rush-hour traffic in the afternoon on a two-lane road. So, to have the privilege to work from home is huge for us.

The biggest thing I am dreading about this upcoming schedule is dinner. It’s very clear to me that the majority of evening meals will be consumed in the car. And neither of my boys like sandwiches, much to Troy’s everlasting disappointment.

I have considered a big snack in the car, and then dinner when we get home, but that pushes out bedtime pretty far. Having kids with a giant age gap makes things like bedtimes really tricky. I think we’re just going to have to be flexible with what our evenings look like for the foreseeable future.

If you have any favorite car dinners that are NOT sandwiches, please share in the comments! Even if it isn’t a meal that would work for us, I’m sure other readers will appreciate the suggestions.

a yin yang made out of rocks

After our second trip in two weeks to urgent care for a covid test for Bennett (it was negative), the doctor declared him not contagious but not 100% over his cold from a few weeks ago. And I 100% believe it because I still have a constant ragged dry cough from my own bout with the family germs.

The doctor listened to his lungs and said that he is breathing in fine, but when he goes to breathe out, it’s a bit rough. He prescribed an inhaler to help clear everything out, and so far it is doing its job. Bennett’s cough has finally been productive, and hopefully, he is on his way to looking/sounding like he is 100% healthy.

I know Troy hates taking his own inhaler at night because it makes him jittery, so at least I had the heads up that it can make you wired. What I didn’t know, is that if you give a five-year-0ld an inhaler, he turns into a little methed out squirrel. Holy smokes!

We dropped Jack at his first soccer practice and ran to the pharmacy to pick up Bennett’s inhaler. I gave him his first two puffs in the car and then we went out to watch the practice. Within minutes, he was climbing on me, laying on me, flopping on the grass, and whining.

It was so unlike his normal behavior, but so obviously annoying that another mom looked at me and said “I don’t miss those days”. At the end of practice, I was trying to introduce myself to Jack’s new coach, and Bennett was attempting to climb me like a baby koala. Ugh!

That being said, even with a crazy little kid climbing on me, watching Jack play soccer again was SO fun. I didn’t realize how much I missed watching my kid love being involved in team sports. And thank the good lord that Jack no longer wants to play baseball, because watching tweens play baseball is hands down the most boring thing ever.

The team that Jack plays on has been together for 3-6 years (kids come and go) and it’s been almost two years since they last played together. The last time I saw these boys, they were BOYS. Now they’re all like little men. One kid who had been the shortest on the team for years suddenly looks like he ate the former version of himself and has doubled in height.

I’d say about 75% of the team has played together before, and the rest are either new to soccer or played on a different team in 2019. On the way to the first practice, Jack and I had a conversation where we talked about making sure that no one feels excluded simply because they are new. We discussed making sure that it wasn’t just a practice full of inside jokes that the new players didn’t understand.

As extroverts, Jack and I cannot fathom feeling left out of a group simply because we don’t know anyone else. Troy is our resident introvert and says he always hated the start of team sports because it was a chore to get to know everyone. Whereas Jack and I see it as an opportunity for ALL THE NEW FRIENDS.

From what I could see from the sidelines, even with Bennett acting so very punchable, the boys did a great job including everyone and coming together as a team. I remember Jack starting soccer with only 6-8 kids per team, and now there are a whopping 19 kiddos! God bless that coach and his patience.

The eight kids on my team that I’m coaching are a handful, but very fun and are mostly eager to play soccer. I’d say as of right now, our practices are about 15% water breaks (they seem to constantly be dying of thirst about 12 seconds after their last break), 10% them telling me about their cats, 10% looking at butterflies or planes, 20% reminding them which foot is their left vs right, and 45% soccer.

For my fellow Ted Lasso fans, my deepest desire is to coach these kids like Roy Kent coaches his niece’s team. But I feel like I would be removed by the league within 35 seconds.

After our practice on Thursday, I had to hustle to church for a church council meeting. Troy drove separately to practice and drove the boys home, while I was flying to church trying to mop up the boob sweat with napkins in my car. “Thou shall not have boob sweat” – Leviticus something or other.

I changed clothes and put on fresh deodorant (you’re welcome fellow church council members) in the bathroom at church. And then we had a 90+ minute discussion about finances and cleaning supplies. I tell yah, my reality show is going to be off the charts exciting to watch.

In the Garden This Week

The tomatoes are officially going bananas right now. And for some reason, the April version of me decided to plant WAY too many paste (saucing) tomatoes. This coming week I’m going to be making a few batches of Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce (but I’ll use my Instant Pot on slow cooker mode with the slow cooker lid since I gave away my slow cooker) for the freezer.

We have so many blueberries left on three bushes that even the birds have given up on them. These are the first bushes we planted in the garden way back in 2012. I was chatting with a reader on Instagram about how to get started with blueberry gardening.

a red basket full of blueberries on a lap

This red basket holds about 5 pints.

I told her I bought our bushes from a vendor at our farmer’s market, and that they were three-year-old plants when I bought them, so the sticker shock was high at $25-30 apiece. Due to the cost, I was only able to afford 3-5 more bushes every year, and it took us a whopping five years to build out our current blueberry empire.

Bennett and I spent 30 minutes picking 10 pints of blueberries from ONE bush on Wednesday, and maybe only picked about 40% of the berries. At $3 a pint at the grocery store for organic blueberries, our $25 investment 10 years ago, paid for itself in just one morning.

Most of our blueberries are the low bush variety, so I’ve taken to sitting on a stool while I pick. Some readers have recommended a blueberry rake before, but I’m not sure it would work in this case.

The berries ripen over the course of two months, and I feel like the rake would pull off the immature ones while also harvesting the ripe ones. I’d love to hear about your berry rake experiences if you have any! <—things cool people say.

2 baskets of blueberries in a sink

Housekeeping

ZipTop containers have quickly become my favorite reusable silicone bags, and right now they are having a great back-to-school sale! You can get 20% off your order with coupon code sustainablecooks15 (yes, it says 15 but you’ll still get 20% off) AND free shipping on orders over $49.

These bags are my favorite because of how dang easy they are to clean! They go right in the dishwasher without needing to be turned inside out, and they stay open for easy cleaning and drying in the dishwasher. They’re also stackable in your cabinets/drawers, which means my Type A personality loves how neat and tidy they are. Get your own ZipTop containers here.

What I’m Reading This Week

I finished two books on my trip – The Darwin Affair (meh), and We Should All Be Millionaires by my business hero, Rachel Rodgers (it was fantastic). I was about to start When Breath Becomes Air but was warned by multiple readers on Instagram that it was a tearjerker, and I didn’t feel like sobbing on an airplane.

Instead, I started Undaunted by the former director of the CIA, John Brennan. I got about 50% through it and realized it was interesting, but packed with facts, dates, and dry details. I put a pin in it and downloaded The Rose Code from the author who wrote The Alice Network (which I LOVED). I just needed to get lost in a book.

Reader Spotlight of the Week

Mary left this five-star review on our Puff Pastry Pizza Pockets {Pin this recipe}:

Very yummy!!  I’m not great at working with dough (except cookie dough!) but this was easy. Thank you!

A pizza pocket cut in half with gooey mozzarella cheese

On Sustainable Cooks This Week

Easy Ravioli BakeThis Ravioli Bake is a simple and easy one-pot meal that you can throw together in under 10 minutes. Ravioli lasagna is pure comfort food that the whole family will beg you to make over and over. {Pin this recipe}

a spatula scooping ravioli lasagna out of a baking dish with cheese stretching

Bacon and Egg RollsPacked with flavor, these Bacon and Egg Rolls are a delicious and fast breakfast, appetizer, or snack. Baked, not fried, these easy egg rolls are simple to make and cooks in only 9 minutes. {Pin this recipe}

4 bacon and egg rolls and a dish of berries on a grey plate

Easy Make-Ahead Breakfast RecipesThese are the best Make-Ahead Breakfast recipes to help you and your family get out the door on time. Pop some of these simple breakfast recipes in the freezer and make it simple for kids to make their own meals. {Pin these recipes}

9 photos of make ahead breakfasts

The Five Most Popular Posts This Week

  1. Canning Peaches – this post will likely remain in the top five until September(ish). Get used to it. {Pin this recipe}
  2. How to Can Pears – a very sure sign that Fall is coming! {Pin this recipe}
  3. Canning Whole Tomatoes – the best way to give yourself a squirrel stash for making soups and sauces this winter. {Pin this tutorial}
  4. Dill Pickle Relish – because sweet relish is the devil’s condiment. {Pin this recipe}
  5. Refrigerator Dilly Beans – crispy tasty and amazing pickled green beans without the canning!  {Pin this recipe}

Meal Plan

Monday:: Takeout to support a local small business.

Tuesday:: So far, Tuesday is the only weeknight this week where we don’t have soccer. I’m testing out a new instant pot soup recipe that will be coming soon to a blog near you. This blog. It’s mine. Just so we’re clear.

Wednesday:: Mary’s comment above inspired me to plan on making some Puff Pastry Pizza Pockets, with veggies on the side.

Thursday:: BLTAs + cut-up fresh veggies + fruit.

Friday:: Takeout to support a local small business + my sanity during this soccer heavy week.

Saturday:: Popcorn, leftovers, and movie night. With soccer practice on Fridays now, movie night has been rescheduled for a few months.

Sunday:: TBD

 

What are you having this week?

 

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18 comments on “Scattered Sundays”

  1. We were once in your shoes: two children five years apart, and running in different directions after school. Both of us worked outside of the home. On the craziest of evenings we adopted a, “don’t sweat the small stuff” approach to dinner: the children each assembled their “dinner” that morning from literally whatever was in the house–dried and whole fruits, veggies, nuts, protein bars, frozen pancakes, peanut butter, Baby-Bel–you get the idea. I packed two containers and stored them in a dorm refrigerator I had in my office.  If they wanted to eat dinner later, great; if not, they made up for it at breakfast the next morning. Our oldest is now an FBI agent and our youngest is studying astrophysics, so I think they turned out alright. 🤣

    As for meal planning, we have crossed into that blissful state of empty nester-hood.  The furthest out we plan meals is same-day, and even then, we change our minds. Yesterday I began a vegetable and white bean cassoulet in the morning so the flavors would come together for dinner. After our hike I made two French baguettes to pair with the cassoulet. 

    Then. A friend on social media tagged me in a post from a trip we took to Seoul a few years ago, where this adorable elderly Korean man helped us when we were a bit lost. He then suggested we eat KFC (Korean Friend Chicken) at his favorite place, and we did. The chicken was mind-numbing delicious, and seeing “Pek” on social media again made me smile. 

    Guess what we ordered for dinner last night? 

  2. I think many of your published recipes would work really well for car/travel dinners during sports seasons. My three are highschool/university ages now, but they were 3.5 years apart from eldest to youngest, and all of them played multiple sports, so there were no free nights. My slowcooker saved us; we would do a big healthy snack with protein pre-sport, then slowcooker dinner when home (since there were nights with everyone eating at different times).
    We did alot of wrap-type car meals, mostly using various leftovers stuffed into a wrap (everything from leftover butter chicken to bacon and scrambled eggs, grilled chicken + Caesar or Greek salad, etc). We also did pasta with pesto + whatever leftover protein was around, since it’s good cold. Thermoses were used for mac + cheese, chili, etc., and we always had veggies + dip and fruit. 
    And cookies, of course.

    • Bennett is a very messy eater and I would allow most of those foods in my car. He’s also a slow eater, so I think we are just going to have to get an IV of some sort of protein shake. Ha!

  3. Would soup or chili in a thermos work for car dinners? With some bread and veggies on the side?

  4. We used to bring pizza wraps for dinner on the road.  I have never had them cold, but I imagine  that if you enjoy cold pizza they would be good.  My husband works out of a truck so about 20 years ago he purchased a really cool lunch box that plugs into the vehicle’s cigarette lighter.  It heats up like a little oven.  We would bring our pizza wraps in there.  but it takes about 45 minutes to heat so I doubt something like that would work for your purposes. (but it might? so that is why I talked about it)  Our pizza wraps are just a tortilla with pizza sauce, pepperoni and cheese rolled up like a burrito.  We used to bring other things, but my mind has gone blank right now.   My daughter’s go-to dinner at the zoo (we all have memberships and go a lot, usually over dinner time, so we pack food) is cold chicken fajitas. (shredded chicken, cheese pepper and I’m not sure what else, on a tortilla)  she brings ingredients separate and they assemble it as they eat.  We bring sandwiches – no help there. And our grandchild (1 1/2 years old) often has strips of pizza.

    I saw those zip top baggies on the Canadian airmiles site as a reward you can get with your miles.

    • Troy is just like your daughter and will happily eat any food cold!

      Pizza wraps would work 1 night a week, but no more. Jack has dairy issues and he limits his consumption.

  5. When my daughters’s were busy with minor sports (both in university now), we had a lot of 3 or 4 pm suppers at home with a before bed snack. It was either that, eat at 9 or 10 pm or pick up fast food. For the times when we had to eat in the car, I would pack something leftover in a thermos (shepherd’s pie, soup (a hearty one), a baked pasta, etc), a sandwich, a salad with protein (added eggs, tuna, chickpeas etc.). The slowcooker, and later the instant pot, became key as well, to have food ready when it was convenient to eat, rather then regular meal times. Meal planning and meal preparation were key to maintaining healthy meals with a crazy schedule.

    • That’s what we’re doing right now until school starts. We’re eating like 80-year-olds. 🙂

      When school starts, Jack will be at school until 5 pm, at which point I pick him up and we head to soccer.

  6. Years ago I remember reading a blog post from Dana at A Slob Comes Clean about her solutions for having a homecooked meal at her kids practices/games. I don’t remember specifics now since I’ve never had to implement this stuff but it stuck in my mind as something that was smart and that I wished my parents had done when I was in school.

  7. My son was catcher for his baseball team and that was super exciting. Especially since we had some kids who were little jerks that would steal all the time. Watching the 5 year olds play softball was the drag. My daughter isn’t especially sports loving, but we’re trying all out with her. Now we’re on to football and cheer. That means another 5 days at the park. We’ve done red beans and rice (every Monday), hamburger stew (similar to your green beans in tomato sauce with ground beef). One of my favorite cold bowls is grilled greek chicken with cucumbers, tzatziki sauce, and feta. This is over cauli rice with green onions and a lemon vinegrette. A big hit was shrimp scampi over roasted cauliflower. Also chicken Alfredo over roasted broccoli. Hotdogs casserole worked out too. The biggest thing was pre-planning and prep work.

    • Ha, I bet there is some satisfaction from watching your son tag out the jerks!

      I would eat the snot out of those greek chicken bowls! I could get the boys to eat the chicken and cucumbers.

  8. We start school this week, which means my 12-year-old starts cross country practice, which thankfully is only Mon-Thurs (since they have meets Sat mornings) but it goes until 5:45.  And since my kids go to school where I work, that means a 30-35 minute drive home.  So for the next few months this will mean a lot of prep-ahead, quick cooking dinners.  I have already chopped some onions and will chop tomatoes later today so we’ll be ready for pasta and chili.  And I’ll probably stash a container of chopped carrots, bell peppers, and mushrooms to cook with my grocery store’s great Thai curry sauce. We’ll probably round out the week with crustless quiche since that is easy to throw together, especially if I already have onions and tomatoes chopped!