I swore, as you do, before you have kids, that I would be no ferrier of children from one activity to the next. My life would not be ruled by what they wanted to do. They would know the benefits of down time, of being able to come home to a homemade cake and a drink before relaxing, completing any homework, generally having time to recover from the day at school.
Of course, the children didn't know that, and as they have got older, have other plans. 'Home' is far too boring. Apparently, it's not enough that they've been at school all day, giving their all. They want to do other stuff, and while it caught me a little by surprise, well, I guess that's fine.
What's a little less fine is that although I work from home, I'm still working, and so 3.15 sees me legging it up to school desperately trying to remember who needs to be where at what time and crucially when they need to eat. It doesn't matter that it's the same each week, and I don't know whether it makes it better or worse that most of what they do is local. I don't have to get in the car and drive them anywhere - which is a good job, because now it's October, the camper van has gone back into her winter quarters and I no longer have wheels, but it feels like I am constantly running up and down the road: football, choir, cubs, ballet, brownies.
This term, Blue has thrown a big spanner in the mix by wanting to join an orchestra (with his trombone) which requires being OUT OF THE VILLAGE at 5 o'clock on a Tuesday afternoon. In terms of how he gets there, this is not so much of a problem as one of his friends was already in the orchestra and his parents suggested that Blue join in, in full knowledge of the fact that there would be no lift sharing possibilities. Pink has no commitments on a Tuesday evening, which makes things slightly less complicated but there's still the issue of making sure that everyone gets fed without me having to cook more than I have to.
Soup is a pretty good option in these circumstances - easy to heat up quickly and feed people as they need it - particularly Blue, who, along with most nearly 10 year old boys, lives with the beast of constant hunger raging inside him. On a Tuesday, by 6.30, when he gets home from his orchestral endeavours, the beast needs feeding - now...
Carrot & parsley soup
1 clove of garlic
2 stalks of celery
350g peeled carrots, sliced into chunks
Olive oil and a knob of butter
800ml chicken stock
80g red lentils
a large handful of flat leaf parsley
Peel and chop the onion and garlic, clean and slice up the celery.
Heat the oil & butter in a large pan, and chuck in the onion, garlic, and celery. Fry gently for 5-10 minutes till everything is softening, then stir in the ground cumin. Cook for another minute or so, then add in the carrot chunks and pour in the stock. Bring everything up to a simmer then tip in the lentils, and cook for 20-25 minutes till the carrots and lentils are cooked.
Rip off the parsley leaves from any really big stalks, chuck the leaves in to the pan, allow them to wilt for a couple of minutes, then blitz the whole lot. Season if necessary, and if the soup's a little thick, add in a little more water.
Heat up as necessary and feed to hungry daughters, hungrier husbands and ravenous sons, as and when necesary. Oh, and don't forget to feed yourself too...