My brother Ray is every writer’s dream reader. He’s an implementer. If he reads it, and likes it, he will change his life based on it. When he was 11 or so he was really in to My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George. He read it and then planned on running away from home, hollowing out a tree and living off the land. My mom actually had his birthday cake made to look like a tree with a large hole in the side and got him a compass and a hammock as gifts! (Would your mom encourage running away?) He continued falling for whatever he read in a big way. I love this about him.
I read a lot, but sometimes it’s hard for me to remember where I read what really spoke to me, or sometimes I read and I think, “That’s great. I should be more like that.” But then I do nothing about it.
I do, however, glean useful things from books that were not intended for what I take away. I reread To Kill a Mockingbird a few years ago and got a lot of parenting advice from fictional Atticus Finch. (He is based on Harper Lee’s dad, so he’s kinda real. Right?)
I also enjoy a healthy amount of snark. I like reading things that brave and irreverent authors write. It makes me laugh to see in print a thought I may have had but wouldn’t word so catastrophically. Read: I like books with bad words in them.
One book like this was Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman. It’s kind of a “French do things better” book about all things childbearing/raising. After reading it I tried to not give snacks, except once in the afternoon, so my child would eat at meals. I have since regressed. I did stop “narrating play” at the park, and I even allowed my kid to walk up steps to the slide without me holding on. This freaked my husband out. Poor man with founded safety-related fears. Now we’re in between. We’ve backed away some, but we do go on playground equipment still (especially with our nearly 2 year-old). Why are there so many “free fall” spots on playground equipment anyway?
This book also helped me become open to getting an epidural for my second labor and delivery (because the French don’t even have a phrase for “natural birth,” they basically think only crazy Americans would forgo pain relief intentionally). I’ve been the crazy American, and then I chose pain relief. Love that pain relief.
One thing from Bebe that I implemented and am still using today actually has to do with food. According to Druckerman, the French only eat meat at lunch. Their dinners consist of a cold vegetable salad, a warm vegetable main (like a puréed roasted vegetable soup) and some kind of carbohydrate (usually French bread), and fruit is a dessert. I started doing this exactly, even roasting asparagus then puréeing it with broth on the stove with my immersion mixer. We got a little tired of pureed soups, and I’m not as strict that it has to be dinner anymore, but we basically only eat meat one meal a day.
I did it to be more French, but it had a lot of fringe benefits. Now we do it for the benefits.
- Meat is expensive, if you don’t buy it you save $
- We eat more vegetables when we don’t eat meat
I’m sure there are also health benefits from consuming less saturated fat or environmental benefits by decreasing our meat-eating footprint, but really it’s just 1 and 2 that motivates us. I estimate we eat a little less than 4 oz of meat a day per person. That means that a nice size package of ground turkey lasts most of a week for us. My mother-in-law often sends us home with Sam’s Club double packages of ground turkey and a good-sized pork loin when we visit, so there have been whole months where I’ve not had to buy meat at all.
We feel like we save so much by eating less meat that we share this with anyone who wants to save money on groceries. My husband almost reflexively asks someone, “Have you thought about eating meat less?”
We’re still not close to the amount of vegetable servings you should get everyday… health people (read: nutritionists and doctors, people who know) keep increasing how much we should get. What is it now? Eight servings? Ten? But, eating meatless dinners means we eat our veggies.
You may have noticed on my last post that my meals are labeled lunch or dinner (dinner being mostly vegetarian), and my Pinterest boards are also divided that way. All my vegetarian meals are in my “Dinners” board. We’ve found some favorites, and I think sometimes we actually prefer our dinners to our lunches. We don’t even miss the meat.
How about you? What do you do to up your vegetable intake? Do you participate in Meatless Monday? or… What fictional character do you glean real life advice from?