No More Excuses

Do you eat dinner together as a family every night? We do, but until a couple of weeks ago, we didn’t always finish together. Eleanor and August know that they have to ask “may I be excused?” before they leave the table. (I highly recommend teaching your kids to do this too, because once they’re in the habit and they do it in front of company or at a friend’s house, they look super-polite and you get a million parenting points. Grandparents especially notice.) The problem is that we started getting to the point where the kids would each finish their meal and immediately ask to be excused — leaving the rest of us still at the table. So now we’re trying a new rule where they stay at the table until everyone is done.

The pictures in this post are from a dinner we made over the weekend: blood orange roasted salmon, from Blue Apron.

Cooking Blood Orange Roasted Salmon from Blue Apron | Making it Lovely

I’ve partnered with Blue Apron before, and I’m happy to continue to do so. They deliver fresh ingredients to your door, saving you a trip to the grocery store, and delivering exactly the right proportions for each recipe. I like it because the recipes don’t take too long (40 minutes or less), and they push me to include extra touches that I wouldn’t think to add otherwise. Do I usually top my food with pepitas or use a blood orange in place of a regular one? No, and adding them made our dinner feel more special, like we were getting a restaurant-style meal at home.

Ingredients from Blue Apron

The recipe we made called for the salmon to be roasted, which meant cooking in our unpredictable antique oven. We’re pretty used to its quirks and we do often make fish in it, but I finally bought an oven thermometer so now we know that “Hot” actually means 500 degrees. (I suppose that’s why we’ve never seen the gauge go all the way to “Very Hot.” Can you imagine?)

Cooking Blood Orange Roasted Salmon from Blue Apron | Making it Lovely

You know the pink dishes I painted last week? I went and picked some up, and let me tell you — everything looks prettier on a pink plate!

Blood Orange Roasted Salmon from Blue Apron | Making it Lovely

Using gold flatware helps too, as demonstrated by my little hand model. She was a big fan of the salmon.

Blood Orange Roasted Salmon from Blue Apron | Making it Lovely

So, the new rule? It’s working so far! The kids are getting an exercise in patience, waiting until everyone has finished before being excused, and it’s giving us a little more time to sit at the table as a family and talk. Of course, a lot of that ‘talk’ is made up of little kid jokes that don’t make any sense, but it’s still nice. (And won’t the grandparents be impressed!)

hr 644

If you’d like to try Blue Apron, I have a discount offer to share with you. The first 50 readers to sign up via Making it Lovely get two free meals on their first Blue Apron order!

The service is available nationwide to over 80% of the country. The plans have changed a little since I last wrote about the service and they now offer two types: the 2-Person Plan and Family Plan. We use the Family Plan, which is designed for a family of four (or more, if your kids are little and don’t eat a ton at each meal). Each delivery has enough food for two meals to be served family-style, you can choose to receive either one or two deliveries per week. The price is $69.92 per delivery ($8.74/serving) but there’s also a 2-Person plan offering one delivery a week with three meals for $59.94 ($9.99/serving). The food arrives in a refrigerated box so the ingredients will stay fresh, and they have a Blue Apron market with kitchenware, should you find yourself wanting to add a few new tools to your arsenal. They add new dishes all the time, shipping is always free, and there’s no commitment — you can skip or cancel whenever you’d like to.

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  • Laurie
    January 20, 2015 at 11:45 am

    This was always the rule at my house too. It was agony as a kid though because my parents would sit back and have a cigarette after the meal and we had to sit through that too.

    Did I just date myself?

  • JC
    January 20, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    This is also the rule in my house! You’ll be happy to know it makes for the most polite tweens. I also insist that they order their own food and beverage at a restaurant, and maintain full eye contact with our server. YAY for manners!

  • Krista
    January 20, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    This is also a rule in our household. Not only do we have more time at the table together, but my children are learning to stop when they are full as opposed to when they can longer resist playing with their Legos. They used to want to be excused to go back to playing, but now they know they won’t be able to leave until everyone is finished they are no longer prematurely “full.”

  • Michelle
    January 20, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    We just got Blue Apron for the first time too and I was quite impressed with the delivery and packaging of everything. I’m looking forward to using it once a month!

  • Sarah
    January 20, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    We’ve recently introduced the may I be excused rule in our house too. It works well for us because my 4.5 yr old daughter just cannot sit still. Before we had this rule in place she’d be out of her seat various times during any meal. It’s working so far. We rarely are able to eat together because my husband gets home so late, but I’d really like for family meals to become a more frequent thing.

  • Erin
    January 20, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    That salmon looks so yummy!

    We have those rules in our house, too–the kids can ask to be excused early but we politely decline their request until everyone is finished. They’re 2.5 and almost 4 and that has been a real blessing, especially if we’re eating out.

  • MB
    January 20, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    THANK YOU for working on this with your children. Having none of my own, it’s super easy for me to judge, but one of my pet peeves is big family dinners where children are served first, and then excused usually before the last grown up even sat down. Thanks for thinking about that and drawing them in to the “you can be done eating, but we’d love for you to keep the rest of us company” idea!

  • jaclyn
    January 20, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    Growing up, for me and my friends it wasn’t ever an option to leave the table before everyone was finished. But it also wasn’t ever very tempting since homework was always done right after dinner so I’d usually try to chat up my parents for as loooong as I could to prolong the dinner “hour” as long as possible.
    I wonder how some families get in the habit of excusing children early. If we ate at a restaurant we couldn’t leave the table early so why would we do so at home?

  • Marcee ... ILLINOIS
    January 20, 2015 at 6:25 pm

    Everything looks delicious from Blue Apron! Maybe one day we can try. Any desserts? Grilled/roasted salmon is on the menu twice a week here. Served with orzo + herbs; cilantro or anything handy is my favorite meal. Mashed garlic potatoes is also fab w/fish. You are a great mom Nicole. Children love rules/organization. We enjoyed dinner together every night, but never had to really excuse ourselves. Just got up and did our thing. Ha! Of course being the oldest I had to clear and wash (those memorable bright yellow melmacs!!) dishes. Daddy (thank you!) always helped me out.

  • elizabeth b
    January 21, 2015 at 10:36 am

    Hi Nicole,

    Just wondering what gold flatware you’re using and if you’ve had success with it. Yours looks like it’s in good shape, but I bought the West Elm gold flatware a couple of years ago and it was a DISASTER. I hand washed it after every use, but if it so much as came near any acidic foods the finish was eaten right off. I’d love to stick with something gold in color, but I’ve been afraid to try again.

    • Making it Lovely
      January 21, 2015 at 11:00 am

      Mine is from West Elm too, but it’s the rose gold flatware they had a few years back. We don’t use it all the time, but semi-regularly and we throw it in the dishwasher. It seems they show water spots easily, but other than that they’ve held up fine.

      • Tiffany
        January 28, 2015 at 8:25 am

        I was just about to ask a similar question. I’ve been eyeing the gold flatware at Anthropologie and West Elm for quite awhile, but have only heard negative things about how the flatware holds up (especially knowing that washing it all by hand all the time isn’t going to happen!). Glad to know the ones from West Elm has survived. I might just check it out.