The Project

The Project Returns

On August 26, 2013, the first day of the last year of school for G, I started a crochet blanket for her to take off to school, so that she can always remember how much she is loved.  Or at least how much her mom crochets. Or something.  This blanket is intended to be woven through with love.  And prayers and good wishes and safety and success and just a soup├žon of get your ass out of bed and go to class.  Because that's how we roll.  

It's also a project to help me transition to having just one child at home. And then, none at home.  Because there no other job in the world (except curing cancer) in which if you get it right, you're out of a job.  Life is short.  You have your kids for only so long.  And that's how it should be.  No one should be living at home and raising their kids in the back bedroom of the house where their parents still live.  (Hello, dude across the street from me.)  But when your job is your kids, losing your job comes with some challenges.  

So, this project is a blanket and a roadmap to letting go.  Only you don't know where you're going until you get there.  And to that end, I don't have any rules or parameters for this project, only that we're going to honestly and mostly lovingly chronicle the trip.  

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The Project, Part Un


What I really should be eating.  Dallas Farmers Market December 2011


My family have I decided not to eat out.  Anymore.  At all.  (See project parameters below) We have lots of reasons – financial, health, a commitment to keeping my kids off the street.  Mostly we just wanted to save some money and lose some weight.  I was initially inspired by the wise and brilliant and funny Elizabeth Jayne Liu and her blog  Flourish in Progress.  In it, Ms. Liu details her year-long “project” in which she swears off any non-essential shopping, something that had become a fixture in her life.  Toward the end of her project, she challenged her readers to try a project of their own.  


Here are the project parameters:   (Thanks to Ms. Liu for the starter questions)

How long are you planning to do this?
Eleven months, I think.  We are trying to plan a neat trip for Christmas 2012.  That’s my current goal.  Unless the children mutiny.

What "eating out" is not okay
  • Fast Food
  • Restaurant meals
  • Take out
  • Snacks from the convenience store
  • Snacks from the grocery store
  • Snacks from anywhere
  • Processed or precooked dinners from the grocery store (e.g., rotisserie chicken)
  • Starbucks.  And I love Starbucks a LOT.  Unless using the last of the Christmas Starbucks card from my mother-in-law or see below.  EJL said she only fell off the wagon once.  In a whole year.  I don’t see that happening for me.  Starbucks may well be my Waterloo.  Plus, I spend a lot of time waiting at Starbucks for one kid or another to finish with some lesson or other.
What "eating out"  is okay?
  • Birthday and anniversary celebrations
  • Once monthly date with husband
  • Business lunches and the occasional dinner with old friends
  • Very occasional coffee with a friend
  • Anytime while out of town (no, Austin doesn't count).
So, this is where the test run really informed my parameters:  Not eating out at all can actually be really isolating.  My very best friend, L., told me that it's no fun to have someone across from you who refuses to eat anything – or worse, brings a brown bag to a nice restaurant.  That's embarrassing.  It is amazing how much our society’s interactions revolve around food.  I’m not saying that’s a bad thing.  Just an observation.

Is your whole family on The Project?
Yup.  Whether they like it or not.  The intricacies of my life make this a mandatory sentence for my teenagers.  At least for the next six months.  One will be significantly more excited about this than the other.  My husband is all for it.

What do you hope to get out of this?
World peace.  But since Newt Gingrich just won the South Carolina primary, I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen.  I would like to support our local, sustainable farmers by actually cooking what they grow.  I would like to have my kids involved (even if it’s just by being in the room) in from-scratch food preparation.  I would like to be a size 6.  HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.  I would at least like to feel good about what I am putting in my body.  And I would like to save some money.  I don’t tend to be much of an emoter.  I like to show my love through food.  So maybe at the most basic level, I want to send a little love out there and let it ripple out one ring at a time.

Update:  The project was over as of our return from France and Germany.  We're technically allowed to eat out, but our habits have definitely changed.  A lot.  You can catch up here if you like.