Posts By: Guest Blogger

What’s for dinner?

Guest post by Karen Pearson

If I have the answer to that question in the morning, I feel like the day is off to a great start. Realistically, I’m usually figuring out dinner plans on my way home from work.

The ironic thing is, I grew up in a household with a very organized mom. SUPER organized. She was a pioneer in meal planning. Tucked inside the kitchen cupboard door, I’d find the monthly calendar with each day’s dinner menu neatly written in the little squares AND a separate weekly calendar with all the breakfasts listed. As a kid, I thought all my friends knew what they were going to have for dinner in 3 weeks, and what kind of jam they were going to have on their toast on Thursday. HA! I’ve lovingly teased my mom about these menus for years and of course I never fully recognized how clever she was until I had a family of my own. Funny how that happens!

Growing up, we didn’t spend a lot of time in the kitchen and we ate whatever was put on the dinner table.  I don’t think it ever occurred to us that there was any other way. I distinctly remember sneakily depositing chewed up liver into my white paper napkin and throwing it out but that was the extent of me asserting my independence when it came to meals. As a teenager, when I mentioned to my mom that our neighbours with six kids would often have six different meals, she’d laugh. Clearly, this was never going to fly at our house.

When my youngest daughter was 10, she made the decision to become a vegetarian. This seemed to happen around the time my eldest daughter did a speech on factory farming, but my youngest daughter cites this as a mere coincidence. I did some research and told her that if this is what she wanted, we’d have to find ways to make sure her diet was complete and healthy (she probably has the healthiest eating habits in our house).

A few years later, after watching a number of documentaries and to support my daughter’s choice, I also became a vegetarian. My son, who adores animals, was the next to adopt the meat-free lifestyle and has been a vegetarian for over a year now. At first it was tricky for him because yes, he loves animals, but he also loves hamburgers. My husband and eldest daughter remain tried-and-true carnivores. Recently, my youngest daughter and son have decided to eat fish and seafood so now I guess they’re technically pescetarians. This past year, I’ve decided to become more “plant based” and ditch dairy products almost entirely.

I never intended the “what’s for dinner?” question to become even more complicated with everyone’s different eating styles, but honestly, it was a bit challenging at first. My husband, who makes dinner probably half of the time (okay, maybe a bit more), sometimes seemed at a loss as to what to make. Eating the way you did when you grew up is comforting and easy and has an emotional element to it. Meat, potatoes, vegetables…dinnertime! So in this new era, we’re creative and flexible.  Rather than make separate meals for everyone, we embrace side dishes. We have pasta with cheese on the side as a topping and a gigantic Greek salad with feta and onions on the side (respect for the onion haters!). We basically have a salad bar each night and build-your-own dinners without making 4-5 separate meals. The most we double up on is on Taco Night, when we’ll fry up some ground beef AND Mexican-flavoured soy crumbles (we just call it fake meat).

My goal is to make sure there’s always at least one thing on the table that each of us likes and to try and get everyone involved in the menu planning and the cooking. I’ve suggested that each family member have one night a week to plan, grocery shop and cook dinner, but so far, no takers. I think that might be the secret to it all though, so I’m not giving up yet!

Do you have a household with different eating styles too? How do you manage meals at your place?


…and THAT’S how we met.

Guest post by Karen Pearson

Our family watches a LOT of movies. If it’s the weekend, it’s a safe bet that you’ll find us at a movie theatre. We have an Oscar party every year, fill out ballots and have movie-themed snacks based on the best picture nominees.

For example, this year’s menu may include such delicacies as Irish stew and Tang in honour of Philomena and Gravity. We have fun filling our display coffee table with movie posters and props. Maybe a map of Nebraska, a toy boat if I can find one around here for Captain Philips…you get the idea. With the Oscars coming up, it got me thinking about this little running joke we have in our family. To explain it, here’s a conversation between my husband, Gary, and myself…

KAREN: You know what one of my favourite games is?
GARY: Well, I know it’s not Scrabble, because you’re a really sore loser.
KAREN: Is it really necessary to do an end zone dance EVERY time you play all your letters? I was talking about the one where we’re at a movie with the kids and at the pivotal moment where the lead characters realize they’re falling in love, you turn to whichever kid is sitting next to you and whisper “And that’s exactly how your Mom and I met!”
GARY: Is this because we just watched Puss N’ Boots?
KAREN: Probably, although I’m starting to think that maybe the kids are old enough now to question us wearing masks, and doing amazing acrobatic stunts across rooftops while trying to steal magic beans. We’re just not that agile.
GARY: Um, and also because we’re not CATS?
KAREN: You’re right. Uptight Captain that falls for failed-nun-turned-Governess is probably more believable.
GARY: Or grouchy but good-hearted ogre who saves the beautiful princess and THEN finds out she turns into an ogre at night…
KAREN: Nice. Or spandex-wearing superheroes that have playful, witty banter, get married and have 3 super kids!
KAREN: The best is when they beat us to it and ask if that’s how we met before we even get a chance.
GARY: Yeah. Maybe one day they’ll play the same game with their kids.
KAREN: And then THEIR kids can roll their eyes and think what goofballs their parents are.
GARY: And THAT would be the circle of life, which reminds me of when we met…a young lion and lioness, frolicking in the jungle, getting into mischief…and falling in love.

How did we really meet? Oh, my sister set us up.

What’s your “How we met” story? Do you have a favourite running joke in your family?


Guest Post from Karen Pearson.

I started that hashtag for fun one day on Twitter, after my son’s coach skated over to the boards with a smile on his face, to let me know that I had put my 10-year-old son’s goalie pads on the wrong legs. * face palm *

Don’t get me wrong; I’m no stranger to chilly arenas and snack bar hot chocolate. We’ve got three kids who all took skating lessons and performed in those big production skating shows at the end of the year. Shows complete with dress rehearsals, lighting, music, professional photos and souvenir DVDs. Elaborate costumes ranging from Alice in Wonderland to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and my all-time favourite the adorable Penguins (perfect choice for aspiring 4-year-old skaters. Lots of shuffling, falling down, helping each other back up…still one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen!).

But hockey’s different. I’d heard stories from other parents about how hockey completely takes over your life, and if your child makes it into rep, LOOK OUT! When we signed our son up for Timbits many years ago, my husband agreed that he would be the hockey parent and handle all those details like registration deadlines, schedules, skate sharpening, equipment shopping, and shuttling to early morning practices and games. I can be counted on to make sure all the equipment is labeled (with the Hockey Combo, naturally!), show up for games and marvel at how it’s even possible for a young boy’s hockey equipment to smell THAT bad.

When my husband is out of town, with the best of intentions I bravely slip into the hockey mom role (see goalie pad mix-up above). I sit in the stands with the other hockey parents and try to casually divert the conversation when talk turns to levels, divisions and stats (Yikes, is he in blue or white this year? Which one is the middle level? Is this Atom or Pee Wee?). I can’t get that equipment in the washing machine fast enough and admit to accidentally putting the cup back in the jock backwards AND upside down. Ouch! Apparently nobody ever takes those things out when they wash the jock. Who knew?

We always wanted our son to play hockey for fun, exercise and all the benefits that come from playing a team sport. Now that he’s getting older, the pressure’s heating up and the stakes seem higher. I’m okay with my lackadaisical role and I’m pretty sure he won’t be scarred by the involvement I’ve had (or haven’t had) in his hockey years.

In fact, I think he enjoys teasing me about almost melting his new mouth guard in boiling water, hearing me yelling from the stands “Hey, no pushing!” whenever anyone gets a little rough with him on the ice…and those tricky goalie pads.

Does your child play hockey? If so, what’s YOUR hockey parenting style? How does your family manage all the sports and activities in your busy household? Ever put goalie pads on the wrong legs or something similar? I can’t be the only one, right? Right?


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