Out here in the country – you can see me wearing a battered akubra, with dirty nails and a wheat stalk in my mouth, can’t you? Only one of these is true and I’m not telling which one. I say, out here in the country, in order to get the kidlings to school on time we have to get up mighty early. They go to school 40 minutes away (in traffic) in Canberra, at the superschool in one of the newer parts of town, which is handy because with the eldest one in highschool and the youngest in year 2, they still go to the same place. They arrive by bus at 8.30 every morning and we are up and about at 6.30 every morning to make this happen. Chores, breakfast, get dressed and on the bus by 7.35am.
I’m proud of my brood because we’ve missed the bus twice only in two years. Ironically, when we lived 5 minutes down the road from the school, I couldn’t get them there on time if you paid me. We got to know the front office ladies very well when I signed the ‘late book’ 4 days out of 5, and we ended up trading recipes and rude jokes that I still use today. I think I may also have been thinner then, because I walked everywhere, quickly, due to lateness, although I certainly didn’t have the fencing muscles I do now. But I digress. This year we decided to introduce a new thing into our morning routine: sitting together at the table and eating breakfast. Together. No more cup of tea in bed in the morning to wake me up, before I run screaming into the kitchen making lunches, doing hair, finding old lunches and launching into speeches before throwing them into the chook buckets, (the old lunches, not the kids) finding notes and scribbling my signature, and searching for $8.50 in 10 and 20 cent pieces. Now, we are all up at 6.30, I am in a walking coma making lunches that I have prepared over the weekend (more later) the kids are doing their chores and dressing and Simon is a stepford husband. We eat at 7. And for all my grumbling and mumbling, it works. So far. There is less screaming and shouting. Everyone trots out the door at 7.30, but me. The bus is caught. The animals are fed and I have time to potter with the chooks for a bit before I clean the kitchen and eventually shower 5 minutes before I have to leave for wherever I am going.
When I write at home on my day off, however, I go to the computer in my jarmies and write and plan and daydream until I feel guilty enough to shower and dress. Like today. But what I wanted this blog to be about today, is the school lunches I’ve been making because I’m so bloody pleased with myself I wanted to share with anyone who is a little like me with the crisis and the guilt and the wayhaay!
Because the kidlings are out for the school day for so long (and then soccer straight after two days a week), I really need to have good amounts of food ready for them or they are homicidal when they get home. They’re gone from 7.30am to 4.30pm, and I strongly believe that food and behaviour go hand in hand. Middle child is a little sensitive to colors and preservatives, and reducing gluten in his diet helps him to listen and be calmer. Eldest likes tasty food he can eat fast, because socialising and sport is waaay more important. And youngest has the fastest metabolism on the face of the earth and is always hungry. Or has a tapeworm. Either way, she is crabby without a little snack or seven.
In order to avoid boxes of chips that we never have enough of and the fighting and the crying, I am making little collections of foods over the weekend that is only for school lunches:
popcorn – pop a bag and put it in a cereal container so the kids can have a snaplock bag, and if it’s getting boring they can add dried cranberries or sunflower seeds (no nuts policy at school);
marinated chicken drumsticks/nibblies – where have I been? How cheap is this? 1/4 cup honey, same of BBQ sauce and a tablespoon of teriyaki marinade..they marinate Sunday afternoon, bake Sunday evening and chill overnight. That is not harder to make than three sandwiches, lasts them for days and I get it over and done with in less than an hour;
rice salad – I LOVE my rice cooker. Mix mayo through and baby corn, or sweetcorn and shredded chicken (from above) or ham or hard boiled egg and chopped parlsey from the garden: gluten free, protein, veg, easy to eat and vitamin C in the parsley and easy pouring, mixing, chopping, what more could you want?
These mixed up with frozen yogurts (you may or may not want to know that I do this with my YoMix yogurt maker. Smug much heehee?), carrot sticks (carrots are so cheap!!), and banana muffins (because I buy the cheap marked bananas and freeze them for baking)…I feel positively saintly. And it must be working because the chooks aren’t getting any! Blathering officially over, where’s my wheat stalk?