Dining Out…with kids!

A couple months after our son was born, we were in desperate need of a night out at a restaurant. I was craving sushi post-pregnancy, and we’d heard rave reviews from friends about a restaurant not too far from our home. I will never forget that first dining out experience. We thought we timed it well, and the little man snoozed through the beginning, waking up just as our food was about to be delivered. The restaurant was noisy, and we hoped he wouldn’t disturb anyone as we got a bottle ready. Suddenly, it seemed he was near impossible to calm down. He wasn’t loud, but I quickly turned frantic and nearly started crying at our table. We were still so new to parenting and it was all overwhelming. As my husband started to soothe our son, a woman approached us out of the blue. She sat down beside me, and told us what a wonderful job we were doing. To keep it up, keep going out, and enjoying our life. She mentioned she heard the cries and knew it must be a newborn; both a mortifying thought upon seeing how far her table was from ours, and soothing at the same time. I will never forget the kindness of that stranger, and how she made me feel in that overwhelming moment. We’ve taken our son out since then, but I’ll be honest that it isn’t frequent. As he transitioned to solids, the mess he makes and everything we need to bring discouraged us from venturing out.

Fast forward to the holidays. Our son is now 10 months old, and quite the active little man. The car seat no longer comes in with us, and he can eat small bites from the table! It was time to venture out again, this time with quite the crew. We had family and close friends in town for the new year, and decided it would be fun to eat out on the water one evening; however “evening” can be relative with a little one in your life. I’d heard good things about Surf restaurant in downtown Portsmouth, overlooking the water, and serving true New England food for our out of town guests. I called to make reservations, clearly mentioning that we were 6 adults and 3 children, no one batted an eye. Trying to coordinate the timing of dinner with bedtime, our reservations were an early 4:30pm! Oh how times have changed.

Upon our arrival, we were escorted to a long table overlooking the Piscataqua River. Even though the sun had set, you could still see how beautiful it was outside. We received smiles from wait staff and patrons alike when they saw our little boy smiling and giggling back, but the fun didn’t last long. The table next to us held an older couple, near the end of their meal. As soon as we were seated by them you could see the side eye and feel the glare pointed directly at our table. Clearly they were not pleased with our presence, even though the restaurant was clearly accommodating to families. Thankfully they were not there long, and the table turned over to what appeared to be a more friendly couple.

Our food was delicious, and everyone was enjoying themselves. That quickly changed when not one but two of the little ones got sick over dinner. Call it bad luck, a full moon, or whatever you will, we suddenly found ourselves in a mix of panic and clean-up mode. Our waiter could not have been nicer, bringing water, paper towels, and whatever else we needed. He did not miss a beat, arriving with our check not long after we asked. All in all, it was a fun night night out, but it certainly taught us some lasting lessons.

  • Early reservations are perfect with little ones, you can still enjoy a nice restaurant without impacting bed time, and clearing out just before the dinner crowd arrives.
  • Expect the unexpected. Although our son is a great eater at home, and nearly never spits up, you can’t predict what will happen in public.
  • Not only did I have to worry about what was safe for me to eat, but what my son could reach on the table, and whether or not he could get gluten near my plate. I’d never thought of it before, but now that’s obviously a concern.
  • No matter how accommodating an establishment and its staff are, there is always a chance that its patrons do not feel the same way. Don’t let that stop you from going!

Reset

Happy New Year everyone (a little delayed)! In this New Year, I’ve decided to hit the reset button in more ways than one.  First of all, I’ve taken what has been a much too long break from the blog.  It wasn’t intentional, but during the break I visited Italy, Kentucky, and New York, ran my very first marathon and was able to get a lot of inspiration for the blog.  If you’re a regular reader, you’ll notice the blog got a much-needed face lift as well!

The second reset button is on my eating habits.  Stress at work and busy schedules has caused us to eat quick meals that aren’t exactly the healthiest.  Think those gluten-free goodies like rice pasta, frozen pizzas (which have really come a long way), and corn dogs.  Yes, I’ve been eating like a child lately.  It’s taken a toll on my body, energy and motivation.  After seeing some of my celiac running crew take on the Whole30 challenge, my husband and I decided it was time for us to try the same.  We’re just starting day two, and the hangover hasn’t quite hit yet.

Not sure what the Whole30 is?  Think of it as a short-term nutritional reset, designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system.  It’s a 30 day program in which sugar, grains, dairy and legumes are completely eliminated from your diet.  It’s not every day that you find a program that allows you to eat meat, seafood, eggs, tons of vegetables, some fruit, and plenty of good fats from fruits, oils, nuts and seeds.  One of the main premises is to eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re totally natural and unprocessed.

So what’s been the hardest thing so far? Not being able to put our hazelnut creamer in our coffee!  I drink usually 2-3 cups of coffee every morning, and that little bit of creamer makes it taste just perfect.  We experimented with coconut milk on day 1, but it just wasn’t right.  Today we tried a teaspoon of pureed coconut (coconut manna by Nutiva) topped with cinnamon, and that was much more bearable.  I’m hoping to get myself to a point where I only need the cinnamon by the time this is over.  We really enjoyed the first day of Whole30 meals, I posted the Chicken & Zucchini Poppers recipe we used for dinner in case anyone wants it!

Here’s a look at how we started day 1…

Breakfast: Sautéed ground turkey and potato hash, with 2 eggs over easy.

Breakfast: Sautéed ground turkey and potato hash, with 2 eggs over easy.

Lunch: Salad with romaine lettuce, kale, tomato, celery, avocado, and ground turkey with a fried egg (seasoned with adobo, chili, salt and pepper). Dressing – avocado oil and vinegar.

Lunch: Salad with romaine lettuce, kale, tomato, celery, avocado, and ground turkey with a fried egg (seasoned with adobo, chili, salt and pepper). Dressing – avocado oil and vinegar.

Dinner: Chicken and zucchini poppers with guacamole and sautéed sweet potatoes.

Dinner: Chicken and zucchini poppers with guacamole and sautéed sweet potatoes.

Our ever-growing produce corner!!

Our ever-growing produce corner!!