In my lifetime, there has never been a time quite like this. 9/11 is the closest thing that comes to mind. The fear and anxiety of what we are going through can take over, unless we keep ourselves busy. I have to admit, although at first reluctant, I am enjoying this slower pace of time. For once, my husband and I are on the same schedule! I can’t remember another time this ever happened post children. No more running all over the place for practices and trying to grab a quick bite to eat in between. No more rushing out the door in the early morning in a panic that the kids are going to be late for school. No more weekend events that leave us needing another weekend to rest.
But, there have been tough times. For one, not getting the exercise that we were all getting in prior to this pandemic. And being “cooped up” when the weather doesn’t cooperate. In the beginning of this stay-at-home order, I dreaded having to explain over and over to the kids that they couldn’t play with their neighborhood friends. Or that we couldn’t spend Monday evening dinners with our great friends. But the toughest of all? Juggling the everyday tasks of teaching the children, working around the clock, cooking, cleaning and cleaning and cleaning and cleaning.
However, during this time, I am most thankful for the warm place that we call home. A comfortable, safe, cozy environment. And in our home, at the heart of our home, our farmhouse table that has been the center of so many of our latest activities as a family. Because our dining table has been the focal point of so many of our days, I would like to share with you some of the ideas we have come up with to help us get through this most challenging time.
Family Game Night: Two times a week (we chose Sunday & Wednesday), we have family game night at the dining table. Our children, both 6, look forward to this almost as soon as they get up that day. After dinner, between 6:00pm and 7:00pm, we let each child choose a game that all of us will play. Some of these games have included: Crazy 8’s, Memory, Guess Who, Old Maid, and Candy Land.
Family Recipe Night: One night a week, we will pull out our family cookbook, and make a recipe that has been in the family (either mine or my husbands) for many years. Some of our children’s favorites include: Saucy Franks, Spaghetti Pie (recipe below), Great Grandma’s Meatloaf, Tuna Noodle Casserole, Crockpot Roast, and Uncle Jerry’s Chicken.
Book Night: Once, sometimes twice a week, we have family book night. The four of us gather around the table and take turns reading our book of choice. This has been a great activity for our children, as they are both learning to read. This gives us a rare opportunity to all share something we are interested in, and allows us all to learn more in the process.
Cookie Day: Once a week, because we don’t all want to gain the “quarantine 15”, we will let the kids choose a cookie recipe to create as a family. Some of our favorites thus far have included: Chewy Chocolate Chip, World’s Best SnickerDoodles, and Currant Shortbread Cookies.
Being a few weeks in, we are still learning how to navigate this new, hopefully short-term, way of life. In the coming weeks, we hope to create new ideas centered around the table. Although this time hasn’t been ideal, it has allowed us to be creative. And most importantly, has shown us that our home, especially our dining table, is a great place to make memories while passing the time.
Recipe: Spaghetti Pie (Serves 6)
-12 oz. spaghetti noodles
-½ cup butter softened
-1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
-3 eggs, well beaten
-2 lbs. ground beef
-1 cup finely chopped onion
-2, 15 oz. cans tomato sauce of choice
-2, 6 oz. cans tomato paste
-2 tsp. white sugar
-⅓ cup water
-1 Tbs. oregano
-1 Tbs. garlic powder
-1 tsp. dried basil
-2 cups sour cream
-8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
To Make: Boil water in a large metal pan for cooking noodles. Add noodles and cook to desired tenderness. Drain water. Stir in softened butter, parmesan cheese, and beaten eggs. Chop well with wooden utensil or knife until the pieces of spaghetti are 1-2 inches in size. Grease 9” x 13” glass pan. Press noodle mixture into the bottom of the pan forming a crust. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook ground beef and onions until ground beef is brown. Drain fat. Add tomato sauce, paste, sugar, water, garlic, basil and oregano to the cooked beef and onion mixture. Heat through. Spread sour cream over noodle crust. Fill pie with meat sauce. Top with mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Enjoy!