Posts Tagged: Guest Post

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?


An open letter to my daughters – from your over-thinking Mom.

Dear Anna and Lauren,

I’m writing to you today for the same reason that I always blog about you or write to you. So that one day, when you’re grown, you’ll hopefully be interested in knowing how your Mom thought and felt about your childhood and raising you when you were wee.  And you’ll be able to read all about it.

(Goodness knows I won’t remember all the little details.)

I want to give you a look into the inner ramblings of my mind. And it goes a little something like this:


I’m laying in bed.

I’m thinking instead of sleeping again. I’m thinking about how late it is. Thinking about you two.

I turn over and stare at a strong, quiet face – covered in stubble. It’s a peaceful face. Sound asleep. It’s one of your most favourite faces in the world.

I marvel at how the brain inside that head has the ability to be so carefree. I wonder if he ever lays awake thinking about every little thing that happened that day. Would sleep ever take a backseat to the worry that he didn’t do good enough today?

I wonder if your little 4-year-old self will remember that I lost my cool and yelled at you this morning? Or will you remember the afternoon we played on your bed for over an hour – kissing and hugging, then laughing… hiding under the covers, giggling and rolling around.

Will you, my sweet little 2-year-old, have happy memories growing up in our house? Playing in the court outside, running and biking and picking up leaves and insects. Will you think I took enough pictures of you? Will you talk about our family vacations with fondness when you’re grown?

What does it take to do it right? What do I need to do? What do I need to say?

Of course, I realize, for the most part I just need to be. Be present. Be here for you. Kiss your boo-boos. Hug you each morning. Tell you how happy I am to see you when you get home from school. Just be me.

Because “me” is someone who loves you intensely. Who can’t quite remember being someone other than your Mom.

Someone who will always do things like smile and laugh with an incredible amount of pride at the sight of you jumping on the trampoline at gymnastics class. Or immediately start bawling when you give me your first Mother’s Day card made at daycare.

And as you get older, as we make different choices together – I’m learning. About you, and me, and the decisions I have to make as a parent.

And I’ve realized that there’s no script to follow. I can’t answer the question “what does it take to be a good Mom”. There are no rules for everyone to obey.

But, I do know that it doesn’t matter if we stay at home or go to work, have one child or have six, if they’ve got special needs or not, if we believe in attachment parenting or if we’re laissez-faire. We all have the same worries. The same feelings. The same questions.

And we all love like we’ve never loved before.

Remember that, my girls. Remember that I love you. Remember that, Moms. Remember that you love like you’ve never loved before.

And for that reason, the kids are going to be alright.

Everything’s going to be alright.

We’re alright Mommy. You can stop worrying so much. (For now…)


About the Author:

Heather Dixon is a copywriter at Mabel’s Labels, a smoothie aficionado, a runner, a wife and a Mom to two – soon to be three! – highly advanced little girls (according to her husband and her).

Outsmarted by a toddler and a cookie.

Cookie? What cookie?

I can clearly remember the exact moment I realized my toddler was getting too smart.

When my 4-year-old daughter was not quite 2 yet, the little buttertart pulled me by the hand to the kitchen one day and pointed to a tin sitting on our counter. A tin she has never seen before.

“Coo-ee!” she exclaimed, over and over again.

Yes, there were cookies inside. But how the heck did she know?

So I did what Moms do sometimes. I lied to my kid. (The right kind of little white lie doesn’t hurt that much, right?)

“Sorry honey, the cookies are all gone. No cookies! All gone! Cookies all gone!”

She looked at me with a furrowed brow. I got down to her level (as I’ve been told by experts to do to help her understand what I’m saying) and repeated myself.

“No cookies, honey. Sorry.”

She looked at me and started saying something I couldn’t quite understand. I kind of stared at her for a moment… Just enough time for her to get frustrated with me. “Mommy! Coo-ee!!” she yelled while pointing at my face.

“I don’t know what you mean, sweetie.” I replied.

So she touched a spot on my face. And when she pulled her finger away, there was a brown spot on it.


I wiped my mouth and realized I had a huge blob of chocolate chip on my face.

Awesome. I had just been caught red-handed. So I grabbed the tin and gave her a cookie. “Here you go, honey. Have a cookie.”

She smiled and trotted off.

I stood in the kitchen for a moment, watching her walk away happily, realizing I had been found out by a 23-month old.

The kid. She’s too smart for her own good.

Mama’s in trouble.


About the Author:

Heather Dixon is a copywriter at Mabel’s Labels, a smoothie aficionado, a runner, a wife and a Mom to two – soon to be three! – highly advanced little girls (according to her husband and her).

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