It’s been a while, but I’m pretty excited to be popping back in with a Friday Thoughts post (they’re my favorite because of YOUR comments). I have a lot on my mind. Like, a lot, a lot.

And I’m excited to get your feedback and thoughts on all my rambly venting today. 🙂 

All the other past Friday Thoughts posts here.

1) Family Vacation: I need your help! This resident homebody needs to know: what is the best family vacation you’ve ever taken? To where? And why? (I’m gathering some highly scientific data to present to Brian next week, so thanks in advance.)

2) Sunday Dinner Assignments: Last fall I realized weeknights were not working when it came to teaching my kids how to cook. Too busy. Too noisy. Too distracting. Too stressful. Too much controlling OCD (ahem, taking full ownership for that one).

So we switched the system up a bit, and I can’t believe how well it is working. I love it! The kids love it! And honestly, they have totally shocked me and Brian with their rock star cooking abilities. 

I call it Sunday Dinner Assignments. Super clever and catchy, huh? Gosh, I’m a marketing wizard.

How it’s working so far: I plan out a simple menu for Sunday night and assign one of the kids for each section. This involves a super high tech system of writing the menu on a post it note with one of the kid’s names next to each section.

Usually it’s a main dish, homemade bread or rolls of some sort, a side dish or two, and dessert. And in most cases, I let them choose the specific recipe they want to make (within reason and with approval). 

I don’t put myself on the rotation. The kids execute the whole meal AND they are responsible for washing the dishes for their recipe. My role is to not helicopter and just answer questions and step in if they ask for help.

Yes, it’s a bit chaotic and messy; they try and work together to plan out oven usage and stagger the prep/cooking times so there are only a couple of them in the kitchen at a time. 

The best part is seeing how excited they are to tell Brian which dish they made when we sit down to dinner. Of course we have had quite a few spills (including a whole bucket of honey) and arguments about who gets to use the favorite whisk first (that one ended in tears + at least one bruise)…and there have even been a few times where something was…um…slightly inedible.

But the learning process has been invaluable. Each one of the boys has made homemade rolls (or this buttery bundt bread is a fave choice) at least twice by themselves, and let me tell you, if they do nothing else in their lives, I’m going to hang on to some mom pride over this accomplishment.

They are all used to the system now and ask me on Saturday night if I know what their assignment will be yet. I’m sure this Sunday Dinner Assignments thing will go through several variations as we stick with it, but it’s working pretty great right now.

In the interest of full disclosure, about every fourth or fifth Sunday, I have a little “moment” and decide I can’t handle anyone else being in the kitchen and declare it “Mom’s Sunday Dinner Assignment All By Herself Please Leave the Kitchen Area Immediately.”

How do you teach the kids in your life to cook? Are you able to let go of the control and give them free reign?

3) Eagle Scouts:Both Walker and Jackson earned their Eagle Scout award a couple Sundays ago (with three other young men from church). Scouting has been a fun journey for them, even if they didn’t love every single minute.

Quite honestly, toward the end, I didn’t know if our relationship would survive the paperwork process, but I’m really, really proud of them for achieving this award. And I’m really, really proud of myself for making it through, too. Haha. No, but seriously.

At the ceremony, my 15-year old chose to give his mentor pin to me, which was so touching and sweet! The scoutmaster handed him the microphone so he could say a few words about why he was doing this, and Jackson cleared his throat and very meaningfully gave this tender tribute: “well, I’m giving this mentor pin to my mom because she basically threatened me that I couldn’t get my driver’s license until my Eagle Scout was done. And also, she drove me around to a lot of places.”

And you know what? I totally gave him a huge hug and kiss on the cheek because I’LL TAKE IT. The tribute and the mentor pin. 🙂 I love these boys and am really, really proud of their hard work, including learning the art of making real, live phone calls, which apparently might be the hardest, hardest, hardest thing to ask a teenager to do.  

4) Natural Deoderant:ok, you guys, I’ve tried a lot of natural deoderant out there, and I’m sorry for the inclusion of too much info here, but I’ve done so even at the cost of some serious underarm chafing and rashes (Schmidt’s, I’m looking at you). Lume, Tom’s, Schmidt’s. I still feel like I smell like a pre-pubescent middle school boy.

Help? Am I missing something? Is there a natural deoderant that actually works and doesn’t rip up my skin? Please enlighten me and the rest of humanity. 

5) Being a Finisher: I’ve been working on teaching my kids the art of being a finisher. And instead of lecturing, I decided I better just model the desired behavior and actually finish a couple projects I’ve been working on for years. 

I started this crochet quilt when Camryn was a toddler. Yes, that’s 5+ years ago. And I just barely finished it over the holiday break. And then I wrapped it up and put it under the Christmas tree as a present to myself. I’m embarrassed to say I actually cried tears when it was done. 

It’s been a labor of love. And now I’m afraid to actually ever use it because what if it unravels? (Free pattern from Purl Soho and yarn from Knitpicks, which was enough yarn for my mom to also make one of these blankets, which she finished years before mine – she’s a rock star)

The other blanket I finally finished was this Fancy Forest quilt, pattern by Elizabeth Hartman. A couple years ago when I decided I wanted to learn to quilt (never had before), I chose this as my first quilt. Yes, you just go ahead and laugh at me, because everyone else in my real life did, too!

I admit it was a bit ambitious, but I figured if I was going to learn, I was going to learn. Anyway, you can see how well that worked out. It took me, again, about five years to finish this quilt. And there are so many mistakes I can hardly bear to look at it. (Sidenote: not sure quilting is the right hobby for someone with a brain like mine.) But I finished it! It’s legit the hardest project I’ve ever done.

And I am really, really proud of myself. I even took a long arm quilting class at a local quilt shop and long arm quilted the top of this bad boy all by myself, and I HAVE NEVER BEEN MORE SCARED AND MORE PROUD OF ANYTHING I’VE DONE IN MY WHOLE LIFE EVER. Also, I sweated an obscene amount during the long arm process. Also, this may be why we need to really delve into topic #4 up there. Also, I promise to never talk about sweat again. 

Do you have any goals to finally finish something this year that you started long ago? 

6) Vegan, Vegan:A good friend of mine is transitioning to a plant-based/vegan/no sugar diet to combat a stage IV cancer diagnosis. We basically talk about the food part of this journey nonstop, and my brain is going a mile a minute to figure out how to help her (and also incorporate more plant-based recipes in my own life)!

She and I have already been experimenting with different cashew-based dressings and sauces among other things. We’ve had some wins. And some losses. Haha. Do you have any great vegan/100% unprocessed recipes to share? Favorite online sources? Cookbooks? 

Landscape view Top down view of Buddha bowl recipe with peanut sauce.

7) Grit and Resilience: this TED talk is really fascinating. I really, really want my kids to be gritty! And let’s be honest, I want it for myself, too. To persevere through hard things and not give up. Since I’m 1,000% certain lecturing I’m trying to find more ways to help foster resilience in my kids. Any experts out there on growth mindset? Have I gone too far? Is this too deep for a Friday? What are your thoughts? 

8) Games:You know I can only go so long without talking about what games we are loving at the minute. One of you awesome persons recommended the game Patchworkaff. link on my holiday game gift guide. We love it! It’s a 2-person game and it is so, so fun. You don’t have to be interested in sewing or quilting or buttons or anything to love this game. It’s super strategic with a little bit of luck, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

The other game we’ve been pulling out for a quick game sesh is Left, Center, Right (we have the basic version and also the wild versionaff. links). Super, super fast. Super, super fun. Everyone around here loves LCR!


Ok, you guys, thanks for sticking with me through this rambling post!

Love your guts.

Don’t leave until you add your thoughts below. I need your insights, humor, wisdom and recipes in my life. 🙂

UPDATE!!!! You guys. YOU GUYS! I have spent hours (days!) reading through your comments. I’ve read every single one. I wish I had time to respond to you each personally. Instead, I literally just made a MASSIVE spreadsheet (ahem, nerd alert) with all of your vacation, deodorant, vegan and grit recommendations. And you guys, this spreadsheet is gold. I can’t wait to organize it (ahem, second nerd alert) and read through it and learn from it and PLAN A VACATION and make some plant-based meals and try out the 5,000 deodorant recommendations all while telling my kids to stay gritty. Haha. But seriously, I could kiss all of your faces for all of the comments. The insights. The personal stories and experiences. As always, you’ve made me laugh and think and think some more. And you have given so, so many good recommendations. WHAT WOULD I DO WITHOUT YOU? No really, what would I do? I’d actually have to find friends in real life and that would just be super lame. So glad you guys are my people. I loved reading every single one of these comments. I promise to update a future Friday Thoughts post (or maybe just at the bottom of this one) with my spreadsheet findings! xoxo

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