Saturday, July 21, 2007

Local Food and Chore Charts


We finally, finally have had the regular, afternoon showers that the rainy season in Florida is supposed to bring us. Ear-splitting, sky-tearing lightning and thunder storms! The geraniums' heads droop with the water weight and the grass grows so long so quickly that it wets your ankles as you pass by. It needs a mowing, but the ground is pretty wet. But this is good. It is not enough, but it is good.

While the majority of you U.S. gardeners are bringing in your bountiful, summer harvests, this is seed catalog time for us here on this southernmost peninsula. I am currently reading Barbara Kingsolver's, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, which I've noted many of you are reading too. It's a wonderful book, isn't it? Much of the statistics and science that she weaves through her narrative are things that I already knew, but, then again, this is a passion of mine, and I'm sure the information will be shocking news to many. Her literary gift is so strong that I hope others who love her fiction will pick up her non-fiction account of her family's life as they moved through a year of eating only locally-grown food for a year. There are others out there who have done the same thing - and have written about it and were published this year (I am thinking of the book, Plenty) - but they do not have the same name-recognition as Kingsolver and I don't know that the potential for their audience being as wide is as great. ANYway, the book is wonderful. Check it out - at the library or otherwise.

It is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and the thick, cut-it-with-a-knife summer weather that has me thinking of my autumn garden. In the meantime, we too, have been making greater strides in this local-food movement. Though not a lot is growing in the fields right now around here, organic, hydroponic farming is another story.

Have any of you been to Epcot at Disney World in Orlando? Did you take that boat ride where you ride through this greenhouse where they have beautiful and enormous fruits and veggies growing? Well, they do that hydroponically, and the guy who invented that system lives about 6 miles from our place. It was his farm that we visited and from whom we purchased the fruits for that pretty fruit salad that Maia made for dinner last night. Only the organic bananas and organic leeks for the soup were not local. The rest of the produce for our meal last night was.

Maia's menu:

Potato and Leek Soup
Buttermilk Biscuits
Fruit Salad

(I never mention a drink, but we always have water with our meals.)

A wonderful and delicious meal it was too. We'd never had leek soup before. I found a basic recipe online and altered it some to fit our tastes and diet and will share it with you all next post.
Notice the authentic, "bakerly," floured face? :)

A tired-looking, but happy chef.

Eating locally, we have noticed, has us planning our meals a bit backwards from the way we have done it for a long time. But that seems to be the way it is for so many things when you enter onto a path of living with more voluntary simplicity and with the earth in mind! In the past, we would think of what we wanted to eat for the week and make out our list accordingly. Now, we think, what is available right now? What can we make with that? As I said, the leeks and the bananas were not from her, but we are just beginning on this path and are learning as we go. Habits take time to form, but good habits that you want to integrate into your lifestyle are worth the time and effort to try and try again, even if it means you fall down sometimes along the way.

Our chore charts were born out of this same desire. A reader had asked me about them about a week ago and I am finally getting to an answer! The charts are not anything special in and of themselves, but I think what is good is that they really work for us and have lasted.

I have used the charts to develop good habits and to avoid always playing the heavy! I don't like being a nagging mother and the charts have helped me to avoid that on the whole.

One chart I posted on the fridge for a while was one that addressed video viewing and computer time as well as "treat days." A couple of years ago, my girls developed some habits that I wasn't fond of. Every day they would ask me for a treat every other hour or so! And, of course, if they stopped playing a game, they would ask me if they could play a computer game or watch a video. Now, I have always had time limits on these activities. We don't have cable and watch very little television ourselves. The girls were too young to understand a discourse on why sitting at the computer or in front of the tube didn't exercise their brains and they didn't seem to understand why I would hem and haw and have to think, "Now what have they done today? What would be fair? Can they have a cookie? Can they have those suckers the lady at the bank just handed them? How much time have they spent playing that computer game already? Should I tell them to get off? And, of course, they're always 'in the middle of their game' when I tell them to." I didn't like always looking like I was the one "ruining" their fun, so I let the charts take that credit!

So the treat and computer/video chart went up:

30 minutes of a video OR a computer game every day. Friday night was long movie night with the family if we wanted. No computer or TV on Sundays.

I organized treat days around days they were likely to have them handed out. For a while that was Thursdays, because there were Brownie meetings with snacks. Currently, we have Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.

There are exceptions to these occasionally, of course, as when we want to watch a program together as a family. Or we have company and there might be more snacking happening. But for the most part, the days stick and I don't look like the "wet blanket" ruining everyone's fun.

Those charts aren't posted anymore. They were needed for a time, until the girls knew them by heart. It was a simple design with days of the week colored in certain colors to let them know if it was a treat day or if it was long-movie day. The timer always accompanies them to the computer. There are no arguments about any of it; it just is what it is now. Recently, we've added 2 one-hour days for computer time and they appreciate this new privledge.

The other chart with their chores has continued to develop over time as new responsibilities are added. Everything that I got tired of reminding them to do every single morning went onto the chart that needs to be checked off every day. For a while this even included things like: "take your vitamin"! The key to success with this has been that the majority of these things must be completed before they can sit down for breakfast or begin playing anything. Obviously, brushing teeth comes afterwards! And if it's during the school year, they just may run out of time to eat or have very little time. This has not ever actually had to happen! I think my kids like their breakfast too much! And, lest you think this is too harsh, know that we always have a mid-morning snack with school and they would get fed! :)

My main responsibility, before printing up new charts (I do a simple, colorful table in Word) is to think of everything I need to have on there that I don't want to keep reminding them to do, because the beauty of it is that I only have to say, "Did you check off your chart?" Penalties to allowance come when they are goofing off and playing before morning chores are done. That had been a problem early on and school would end up starting later or jobs would be left undone. That doesn't happen anymore! Obviously, it hasn't been all smooth sailing and reminders and talks have had to happen, but for the most part the charts really work for us!


Tara said...

I love your chore chart- simple, clear, and rewarding. My son is a little too young for something like this but I will remember it for the future. Actually, something like this might be great for ME though- and hubby too. :-)

Yay for potato leek soup! A yummy Irish staple. I love seeing your girls' proud faces.

Mrs. Pivec said...

Thanks for visiting, Tara. :) I tried to visit your place to say hello, but you do not have your profile available for viewing, so I thought I'd say hello here... and welcome!

Andrea said...

I am reading Kingsolver's book right now. I like how she makes it doable to everyone. I'm halfway done.
Looks like a yummy meal!

Marianna said...

Thanks for posting on the chore charts. I think I've been making it too complicated for myself! I will be trying your method. I'm also going to have each of them plan and help prepare a meal starting next month!

I LOVE the Barbara Kingsolver book. I agree with Andrea...she makes it seem very doable, and isn't "preachy". I, too, hope that fans of her novels will read and be inspired by this book.

I just finished reading "Slow is Beautiful" by Cecile Andrews. You would probably enjoy it.

Mrs. Pivec said...

Ooo. I loved Andrews', "Circle of Simplicity" and didn't know she had another one. I'm going to look online at the library right now!

Thanks, Marianna. :)

Oh, and I'm excited to see what your children will be cooking up!

Fiddle Mama said...

p.s. the above tara comment was from me- not sure what google was up to that day but wouldn't let me sign in as fiddlemama. :-)

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