Tuesday, August 18, 2020

10 Arguments in Favor of Picnics

 It was our first time back in the states after three and a half years in Lima, Peru. My mother-in-law kindly (and excitedly) asked us, "What things do you want to do? Where do you want to go to eat?"


Our answer? We want to go on picnics!




Lima, Peru where we were missionaries is in the middle of a coastal desert on the western side of South America. It doesn't rain there. Everything is brown. Everything is dusty. And what few parks there are mostly weren't places you want to have lunch and let your toddler run around. So we were honestly craving green and outdoor eating.

Today we live back in the states and have a wonderful backyard and several nice parks nearby and I'd still rather go on a picnic than to a restaurant. Besides, Covid happened. Restaurants have been creative and we have eaten out a few times, but this summer picnics are more valuable than ever.

You might think a picnic is more work. But consider: If you have to work at your job for 1-3 hours to pay for a dinner for two at a medium priced restaurant, you've worked pretty hard. 

Here are 10 reasons I think picnics are better:

1. I'm eating healthier--I can make veggie salads and I don't deep fry anything! My potato salad isn't mostly mayo. Whatever I make is probably going to be fresher, cleaner, and healthier than average restaurant fare.

2. I'm wearing off calories instead of putting them on--Picnics lend themselves to walking around or even actually playing sports. Whether it's strolling over to the fence to watch the boats on the Mississippi, playing a game of bean bag toss, or an all out game of touch football, I am walking far more than I would be between the car and the restaurant booth.

3. I'm in the fresh air--Fresh air and sunshine is good for you, right? Not just your lungs and your vitamin D, but it's just good for you mentally to get out of doors and enjoy nature. I'm pretty sure that's why God created it so beautiful.

4. I'm appreciating God's handiwork--Nature is amazing. I love watching birds, squirrels, chipmunks, and sometimes other animals. The variety of greens that God has created is amazing. I just look around at everything I see and say, "How Great Thou Art!"

5. I'm saving money--See comments above!


6. I'm actually able to have a conversation--Restaurants are crowded and noisy and so many of them have TVs going now that it's hard to carry on a conversation--especially when you have hard of hearing people in the family, a demographic I'm becoming part of too quickly!

7. I have a quick escape from the ordinary--My husband is game for anything. So if I want to take a picnic to the park at the end of our street (really a very pretty place!) he's willing to take an hour and do that. We don't make a big deal, we just go there and eat, maybe take a short walk and then come back to do our yard work or whatever we need to do at home. It's a wonderful change of place.

8. I can make the menu whatever I want--Do you have a signature sandwich of something like Nutella and cucumber? You can have it on your picnic! I enjoy lots of fresh veggies and fruit that restaurants can not keep on hand, at least not at an affordable price!

9. I'm relaxing more than in a noisy restaurant--The noise, the activity, the constant questions about if everything is fine (or the stress of trying to get your server's attention), is just not relaxing. Sitting with a sandwich or a simple casserole of mac'n'cheese and iced tea, is much calmer.

10. I'm having more fun--Whether or not we have kids along, we have fun. We can laugh, get up and walk around, play a table game, play a lawn game, visit, or do whatever we consider fun...things we wouldn't be comfortable doing in a restaurant.

Make it a goal this summer to eat out once a week...outside, I mean!

Looking for ideas for eating outside this summer? Click here.
And here are some picnic ideas for kids and adults.



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Monday, August 10, 2020

Benefits From the Pandemic

It's become a cliche, but the pandemic has changed our lives. Personally, so many things have changed for us, I would hardly know where to begin. But, now that we've had time to evaluate, some have been for good, not just for us, but for lots of people. 



In our area we are free to go for walks and bike rides and we notice that there are a lot more people out everyday enjoying the fresh air and getting some exercise. My husband and I have started riding our bicycles a lot. In fact, we've logged over 700 miles so far this season! It's been a lot of fun.

We took our bikes on a vacation! Normally, my husband has five or six overseas trips a year with his ministry and I am able to join him on three or four. These trips are long, tiring, and so encouraging as we visit people who are using the Emmaus Worldwide courses to train, encourage, and spur them on in their ministries. We often have a few days in the trip that are just us and we can relax a bit. Sometimes we take four or five days at the end of one to have a little vacation. But these trips are not happening this year, so we took a trip that didn't involve any ministry or people visits. We stayed in motels, took day riding trips and covered 160 miles in six days! Pretty good for a couple of 60 year old grandparents. (Actually, the trip was to celebrate my 60th birthday.)

With all the traveling we normally do, we have always prayed that we would be in town when our parents might need us, all four of whom are living in our small city now. This has definitely been the case as my husband's father passed out due to heart failure brought on by dehydration. Now that he is not driving (for the time being at least), we're serving as part of their taxi service (along with the cars from the Retirement Community.) 

Grocery shopping has been another service we've taken up for them. Actually, since I have severe but controlled asthma, my kids and husband have asked me to not do grocery shopping, so my husband has taken that on for the three households. I recently started doing it for our main store online and picking it up to relieve him from some of the work. The process of having someone else shop for me has forced me to plan more efficiently. I'm back to making weekly menus for dinners and making sure I have everything on hand to make those meals. 

Which bring me to family mealtimes. (You knew I would get there, didn't you?) More people are making time to eat together since eating out is harder and so many extra activities have been cancelled. What a great opportunity to make this a new habit for your family. If you have started, find ways to include everyone in the choices, preparation, activities, and clean up. It all makes it more fun!

If you are new to this, start simple, you don't have to have fancy food, you just have to be together.

Take advantage of whatever restrictions you have in your area and enjoy your family!




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