Be flexible: you will be blessed!

I’m glad I could be flexible with our dinnertime last Sunday night. We really wanted to see our friends. And their commitments on this particular Sunday were going from one thing to another. They weren’t commitments of wasted time. They were commitments of reaching out. Touching lives.

So when we asked our friends to come over for a steak dinner, we were willing to push our dinner out and wait for them, as eight-thirty was the soonest they could get to our house. Not only did we want to see these friends, we knew that coming to our home would be a relaxing way to end a very busy day for them. I had also purchased some steaks at the “10 lb. Meat Sale” that we wanted to barbeque, along with veggies and salad from our yard (and of course yummy bread). My friend brought the dessert (delegation!).

We pulled fresh potatoes from our garden and after baking them first, we sliced and seasoned them. Using crookneck squash and lemon thyme from the garden, we added sweet onions and peppers, olive oil and fresh lime juice and spices. And preparing my steak the simple way, I rubbed olive oil on each steak, sprinkled with Stevia (or Splenda, or regular sugar), and Costco’s steak seasoning – all on both sides. The bread was sliced, wrapped in foil, and placed in the oven.

All food was prepared in 30 minutes and ready for the grill.

One thing I noticed early in the evening was that we usually have music playing as we’re preparing for our company. But as I was setting the table outside on our patio, in the quietness of the evening, I heard the popping sounds of the barbeque. It smelled and sounded just like a campfire. I loved the silence that surrounded this magical sound.

I stood there and shut my eyes and took it all in. I thought of our guests who were coming to dinner. I knew that our time would be good. It would not be taken up with wasted chatter or filled with dreary gossip. While eating our dinner, we’d be talking about things we are passionate about. Mostly relating to people and goals in life.

We all long for connection. We all long for purpose. And what this couple doesn’t know is that they actually help my husband and me to become better people. By cheering, supporting and encouraging us in many ways.

Yes, I’m thankful that I could be flexible last week. I wasn’t always that way! And part of what I am continuing to learn about flexibility is that it starts with a willingness to do something different. To be able to go with the flow, and make a schedule change.

With that willingness a blessing is usually right there ready to follow.

Sandy’s book, The Reluctant Entertainer

If you’re a recovering perfectionist, like me, then you need this book. It was such a breath of fresh air when I first flipped the pages, perused the photos and recipes, and read Sandy’s encouraging words.

Personally, I love entertaining, but in my life stage of three little ones wreaking havoc on anything that moves in my house, I tend to be a bit reticent to open my doors willingly to friends and family.  That shouldn’t be.

The Reluctant Entertainer gives us women of all ages a much-needed boost of encouragement to take a step of faith and use our home in service to others.  Filled with practical ideas, this book is a great tool for helping you flex those atrophied entertaining muscles.

Sandy shares both nuggets of wisdom from her personal experience and practical tips for setting the dinner table, so that you can courageously roll up your sleeves and prepare for guests in your home.

Win a copy!

This giveaway is now closed.

Five of you will win one copy of Sandy’s book, The Reluctant Entertainer.  Here’s how:

1.  Leave a comment on this post, answering Sandy’s question: “When was the last time you were flexible and able to go with a later dinner time? Or that you were willing to try something different?”

2.  For an additional entry, tweet about this giveaway on Twitter, including @SimpleMom, @SandyCoughlinRE, and the URL of this post ( in your mention.  THEN – and this is important – come back here and leave another comment, telling me you tweeted.  Don’t mention it in the same comment for your first entry, or else it won’t be counted.

This giveaway will close this Saturday, September 25 at 11:59 p.m., and I’ll announce the winners soon after.  I hope you win!


Sandy Coughlin is an author, blogger, wife, and mom to three children. She lives in Oregon and loves to develop recipes, cook, and host dinner parties. Read more at Reluctant Entertainer.

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  1. As a reluctant entertainer I find that I have not been spontaneous or flexible in my meal plans. It is 7 pm everynight. I truly need this book *wink*.
    Love & Hugs,

  2. OMG…I can’t tell you when the last time that I was flexible with entertaining. Probably last Christmas Day when I had a set time for dinner, but accommodated the craziness of people coming in and out at all times.

  3. I usually always end up being flexible with meals on weekends-I’m only structured during the week.

  4. This book sounds great! I’m not good at being flexible – I want things to be juuuuust right. I was invited into someone’s home for a last-minute playdate a few months ago, and, despite the fact that it was far messier than mine would be when I was inviting someone in for the first time, it didn’t change the way I thought of her, and, I was so grateful for her hospitality and the chance to get out of my house with a small baby. A good lesson!

  5. We’ve started having open house on Sunday afternoon. Anyone can come over. No notice required. So some days it is just our family. Other days, there are 20 adults and children. When people come, they often bring something to share, so I have to find a way to incorporate their offering to our communal lunch. We also often don’t have enough dishes, glasses, or silverware so I am quickly learning to live with eclecticism in table setting. Makes my need for order have convulsions, but I’m getting better. Slowly.

  6. I love entertaining, so I have learned to be very flexible when it comes to times. Many of our friends work until 6 or 7, so it’s 7:30 or 8 before they are able to join us for dinner. Friends are worth it!

  7. I have rarely done this. I am in a rut. Would love to read this book and pull myself out of it!

  8. Our family is pretty flexible with last-minute meals any time of day. We give ultra-high priority to meals with friends and family. In fact, we’ve been known to eat a late lunch, then have friends call and invite us over for an early dinner and with zero hesitation we are there, picking up a dessert or salad on the way there, helping to throw together a great meal and eating like we haven’t eaten in days. It’s all about the hang-time and the food usually turns out great! I never care if someone else’s house isn’t “company-perfect” why should I stress out if my house hasn’t had a fresh coat of paint or my baseboards need dusting??!?!!

  9. “When was the last time you were flexible and able to go with a later dinner time? Or that you were willing to try something different?”

    We had guests over the other night without cleaning up first. Usually it needs to be just so and we still enjoyed ourselves. The guests didn’t say anything and we still enjoyed ourselves.

  10. The last time I was flexible was actually last night. I needed to plan ahead because I wouldn’t be getting home until 7:30 that evening, so I asked my husband which he wanted of two prepared meal options. He looked at me and said “Pot Roast!” Which was not one of the two I mentioned. I laughed and pulled the crock-pot down. You know what? The roast was delicious and took less than half an hour to prep. I am glad I listened instead of fussing at him for not answering my question.

  11. I have set myself a goal of inviting someone into our home at least once a week. This requires a lot of flexibility, especially since my husband’s job is a weird rotation where he leaves at 6 pm and often works weekends. Sometimes we have people on Sunday afternoon, sometimes it’s a mom and her kids for lunch and playtime. Recently, we had our friends for an early supper before a Thursday evening Bible study that we would both be attending, then we went there together.

  12. The last time for me was when trying to get together with old time girlfriends.The desperate state of all of out schedules meant we had to meet late. So glad we did!

  13. I think our dinnertime is like that daily! And, the last time I tried something new… dumplings… ewwwwwww… hehehe

  14. Tammy Valdivia says:

    2 weeks ago a single mom couldn’t make it to our home until an hour after we usually eat. It actually worked out better for me in the long run & I was able to pamper & love on her w/o me feeling frazzled in the effort. Very rewarding! 😀

  15. Instead of trying to fit in dinner with two families of toddlers, we had a dessert party, complete with pj’s. It was easy to pull out a pack n’ play and let the little ones go to bed, while still enjoying a great time with dear friends.

  16. Flexibility is a new concept for me! I’m a new mom of a 3 month old, so he’s teaching me a deeper understanding of flexibility and patience each day (I’m loving it!). At this point dinner is always flexible – it’s done when I can get a few moments away from the baby to prepare it and when my husband can get home (he’s a busy teacher with many after school commitments.) I’m still waiting for the opportunity to entertain again. We’ve had people over to see the baby, but I’ve felt more like the guest in my home as our friends and family have generously brought us dinners,fellowship, and more arms to cuddle the baby!

  17. I’m getting better at being flexible but it’s a work in progress. It was about a week ago that I was last flexible. I could really use a copy of this fabulous looking book!


  18. With 2 little boys (2.5 and 1) it’s hard to have a later dinner since they don’t understand flexibility – just hunger! That being said, my husband and I have set a goal for ourselves to entertain more – at least once a month – so we will all need to learn flexibility and graciousness. This book would help motivate us to stick to our goal and give me the confidence I need to just go and invite people over already!

  19. I served an unexpected lunch to a friend when she came for coffee and ended up staying much longer. The extra fellowship was wonderful.

  20. I have to be flexible most of the time. I have two busy teenagers who are always involved in something or working. Sometimes we eat a 5pm sometimes not until 9. It’s just part of our lives and we go with the flow.

  21. With a 12-month old who’s nap and bedtime schedule is in flux, I’ve been flexible about dinner time nightly this week!

  22. Never.
    Think I need to read this book.
    Thanks for the chance.

  23. Tweeted too!

  24. I am not very flexible with an 8 month old, but my parents do a cookout for my birthday every year and we stayed later. It was hard but I know later on it will get easier when bed times are not so important.

  25. The last time I had to be flexible with supper was about a month ago. I was making burgers, and my husband asked if there was enough for us to invite some new friends. My gut reaction was, “no way!” but when I really looked at what we had in the house, however last minute and thrown together it would be, it really was enough. We had a great time – and more than the food, I remember the time shared with friends. It’s always that way – after having people in our home I am always happy we did, but I really am reluctant every time. This book sounds great!

  26. We’ve learned to be very flexible, since we’re now living with my parents and are in limbo trying to sell a house and move. It wasn’t too hard to adjust myself and our three little ones to my parents’ schedule and different ways,but it did take a little time and patience. Also, on the weekends when Daddy gets to come see us (YEAH!!!) we get to eat later once he’s here and stay up later too!!!! (YEAH!!!) I’m quite the “recovering perfectionist” but this whole process has pushed my “recovery” ahead light-years! God is definitely teaching me (and our family) a ton–one biggie being flexibility! Thank you for the great giveaway! I hope I win!

  27. The last time I was flexible with entertaining was, well….probably never! I often just pass up on opportunities if it does not go with my plans. Sad, but true. It’s hard to entertain when it’s not on your terms. Could probably use a little heart nudging on this topic…

  28. Im a little bit flexible. I like to keep meal and bedtimes somewhat set for my 3 and 4 year old boys. I used to be more flexible before kids!

  29. Changing dinner times doesn’t bother me much. We have family that eats as early as 4 and friends that don’t like to start until 8, so we’ve been pretty flexible! I do get freaked out about planning ahead, though, so I’d love to be more spontaneous and have the skill to throw something simple but beautiful together at the last minute.

  30. My last bit of flexibility (and I’m a recovering perfectionist too– and a pastor’s wife!) was on a trip with the kids and my husband. I was all prepared to make sandwiches for everyone but my husband said, let’s just take meat and cheese and snacks. It was so easy and I was glad for flexibility!! And seeing how I’ve never won anything in blogland, I sure hope to this time. I’d LOVE a copy of Sandy’s book!!

  31. the last time I was flexible to go with a later dinner time was last week. my husband and I took our boy to the park, then got pizza at a nearby place. usually I am reluctant to go to restaurants with a 2 year old, and it was almost past his bedtime, but I’m glad we went b/c we ended up having the best family night together. we ate, walked around downtown, and enjoyed one another’s company.

  32. I tweeted about the giveaway!

  33. With my four kids and their friends, there is constantly people coming and going from our home. Any help would be appreciated – by everyone 🙂

  34. A couple of weeks ago, we had a pastor and his family candidate at our church. There was a 2 pm picnic scheduled, leaving about a 2 hour gap between church and the picnic. This pastor was an old friend of mine, with a wonderful wife and 2 small boys. Even though we had just moved into my in-laws’ place (both recently deceased) and had boxes upon boxes and were not prepared to “entertain” (meaning that things were in their usual, non-company, 2-small-boys state), I sucked it up and invited them over to pass the time. This was no small accomplishment for me, having only VERY recently made a committment to be more real and authentic and honest with the world. My inner voice was still screaming, “You can’t let them see the real you, and your real house and your real mess!”. But the experience was a tremendous blessing for all involved. Yay for flexability and authenticity! Would love to have a copy of this book, describes me perfectly! 🙂

  35. Oooh, I would LOVE to win Sandy’s book!
    The last time we entertained, I made a point to wait till our guests arrived to put the finishing touches on the meal. Normally they walk in and we immediately eat. Another words, I am learning to not rush the meal, but create a relaxing place to share an appetizer and mingle before we eat.

  36. Oh, such a good point! This whole month we’ve had to work on flexibility with dinner, as the kids are all going in a different direction. One has soccer 5:30 to 7; the other has football 6-8. 8 is pretty late for dinner, but I figure it’s more important for us all to eat together than it is to have dinner at a “set” time. It all goes in with my site motto: “Life doesn’t have to be good to be perfect!”

  37. monika tribe says:

    The last time I was flexible with a later dinner was two nights ago. And last night we ate early. Even though my family tries to eat at the same time each night, with 8 kids ranging from 1 to 17 that all have very different schedules, we often get to adjust things. It has been worth it, though, to have the time with our kids, since often this is the only time we can actually get everyone together. Sometimes just seeing everyone together is enough to keep the sense of family going.

  38. It’s less often than I want but when it does happen, it’s almost always worth it. Being flexible means not missing out on those unplanned moments.

  39. The last time I was flexible with a dinner & tried something different was this past Labor Day…my sister wanted to come over to my house and relax by the pool, grill hotdogs and enjoy ice cold watermelon. But, our Dad was wanting to have a cookout at his house (smaller, farther away and no pool)…she was really torn, and didn’t want to hurt his feelings. So, I decided to plan and execute a Labor Day Pool Party at my house for the entire family (at the last minute)…we made smoked ribs, shrimp scampi, hotdogs, macaroni salad, baked beans and yes, ice cold watermelon. A great time was had by all, and I was happy to find a “flexible” way to get my sister out of the middle, and spare my Dad’s feelings!!! Oh, and by the way….since thunderstorms were predicted that afternoon – I moved dinner to an earlier time..just shifted the entire party so that it would be sunny, warm and enjoyable for all. 🙂 Hope I win!!

  40. “When was the last time you were flexible and able to go with a later dinner time? Or that you were willing to try something different?”

    Just last week. We have always set up tables for guests, making it formal in a sense, but last week, we just didn’t have the room to set up tables for all of our guests (the invite list just kept expanding!), so we had one table for those guests who would feel more comfortable eating there and everywhere else we had small tables for small groupings of about 2-4 so they could set down their glasses and/or plates if they wanted to. The buffet table was set up like always and we know that everyone went home having had a good time and no one went home hungry!

  41. The last time I was flexible was last night. My husband is a second shift engineer/manager and He never knows when he is going to get supper or when he is going to get off. I really like to eat supper with him since I don’t see him that much. And I try my hardest to be awake when he gets home late at night.

  42. Sounds like a great book! My brother-in-law and his family are the kind of people that you can’t really make plans with. They’ll just show up at your door or call and say ‘we’re on our way over, are you guys hungry?’. In order to truly enjoy our time with them, I had to learn to be flexible and just enjoy the companionship long ago.

  43. I tweeted your awesome giveaway! @angiemb31
    thank you!

  44. I’m not too flexible with dinner time. My kids are little and need to be in bed by 8 so we usually eat at 5 sometimes if I’m really behind 6. I did do something a little strange for dinner one night . . . smoothies!! Veggie juice, fruit, some protein powder. It was good enough for me!

  45. The last time I was flexible was quite a while ago, unfortunately. In our household of two younger children, I really try to maintain structure during the school year. Our summer vacation seems to be the most flexible as the days are longer, and we play outdoors more and eat later…then, impromptu BBQ with the neighbor friends.

  46. I enter these give aways all the time and never win but this is one book I really, really want.

    My husband and I have a couple that we just clicked with. We always have a blast when we are together the kids are close in age…you know the kind of friends.
    It had been some time since we had visited with them (we had moved away.) They were suppose to be at our place for dinner at 6 but they had all kinds of delays and didn’t get there till about 8pm.
    So we just kept dinner as warm as possible. Since they were arriving later we took advantage of that and set our home to be as calm and inviting with music and lighting. (It was the 1st time they were coming to our new home, they got lost and fought through quite a bit of traffic. Enough to make anyone’s nerves rattle)
    We were up till well after 1am still carrying on and enjoying our company over good food and drinks.
    Ha…we are in the works of planning another right now. They were just the friends we needed that wkend, even if they were late. It didn’t matter. We had the best time.

  47. This past Sunday, I frustrated about eating late because nobody would answer “What do you want for supper tonight” and we were close to going over our grocery budget for the month. So, I set up a menu plan for the very first time — just wrote it to myself in email! Then late Monday, and my DM (dear man!) asked if I’d join him at a discussion meeting about 2 hours out of town on Tuesday evening. They would be talking about a documentary called “Into the Fire.” Lo and behold! I was curious enough about how this group of people would respond to the film that I agreed to make a change in my first-ever planned out week. We grabbed drinks on the way out, and used our “personal pocket money” (allowances!) to buy salads and sandwiches for dinner. The film was amazing — I strongly recommend it as a DVD alternative for a bookclub meeting! I took notes during the film and conversation afterward, to help my DM with the training program he is developing for volunteer firefighters.

    Oftentimes, when I set my mind to trying a new program (like making and sticking to a weekly meal plan), I become so committed to making it work that I forget the idea that Real Life is what happens while I’m out doing (or avoiding) my “plans.” I’m so glad I could see the importance and value of shifting gears this week. The opportunity was not going to come around again, at least not any time soon. I was able to give my DM the extra perspective he wanted, and I was privileged to listen to people talk about about what calls them to be firefighters in their communities. It was fascinating! My menu plan is still intact, as is our grocery budget. Best of all, by using our pocket money together, it was a bit like going on a date together, and we had a lovely time with just the two of us talking on the drive to and from the event. In the midst of a busy week with not enough “us time,” that was the best part of all.

  48. Living in a one bedroom apartment with hand-me-down furniture, every entertaining venture seems to require flexibility. It’s easy to feel like people wouldn’t want to come over to a cramped place with mismatched chairs. But I know I never remember how someone’s house looked when I visited, I remember how I felt while I was there. I think this book would be encouraging to me.

  49. I tweeted about it. I’m mrsgowins.

  50. Michele M Fry says:

    I too am learning this lesson. I just had a birthday party for our two year old that involved family and friends. Instead of worrying about her nap schedule and getting her to bed at her usual time I just choose to enjoy our company and decide that she could catch up on her sleep in the next few days. Because of that choice I was able to be much more present with our guests and enjoy the day more!!

  51. Jennifer Ott says:

    The last time I was flexible?! When we ate out the other night after having to have our house exterminated for fleas (we don’t have pets!). I need this book; with three kids (5, 4, and 2) and a baby coming in December, I can’t seem to get my house clean enough to want to have people over! I just need to get over myself (although we will wait until the fleas are gone!).

  52. this book is on my wishlist! just last night we had some people over, and later i was trying to think how i can make things go a little easier, and wishing i’d have this book to read now! 🙂 i can’t think right now of a specific time that we changed plans on the spur of the moment, but i know it happened…i can almost remember, but not quite. 🙂 we have sometimes invited close friends over for snack or a meal without much notice (as in a few hours before), and we usually end up feeling blessed.

  53. Mine wasn’t dinner, but lunch. My mother in law visited us at church and then came over to our house to spend time with the kids. Dh is a pastor and got held up at church, so I pushed lunch back and made a quick tray of cheese and crackers to snack on while we waited. It worked out great-my MIL had tons of fun time with the kids, and then the adults got to visit during nap time.

  54. The last time I was flexible with dinner was the other night — I prepared an out of the normal dinner for my husband, but after finding out he was running late. I just put the meal in individual crocks, feed the babies and reheated them upon his return home. Turned out to be a nice, quiet late dinner!

  55. We eat late all the time… and I’m ok with that. However, I’m NOT flexible on entertaining if the house isn’t MAGAZINE READY!!! So the last time I allowed myself to entertain was when dear friends popped over unexpectedly and I almost wrecked it because of the shape of my house….. I was ABSOLUTELY STRESSED!!!! However, I took many deep breaths and tried to concentrate on realizing that they like us for us and not for our house! (hopefully 😉 )

  56. Tweeted about it.

  57. Jennifer L. says:

    The last time I allowed myself to be flexible and go with a late dinner time was 3 years ago – before I had my first child. Oh how I miss the whimsy of a late night visit.

  58. I’ve learned that sometimes the kiddos need to have a late snack, have their bath before our friends come to dinner and let the friends read them stories while we clean up. It makes it fun for all of us!

  59. Oh my, I need this book. My husband is wonderful at entertaining (he does all the cooking at our house, and those who get invited over certainly feel treated by his hard work), but I am definitely more reluctant to let people in. I’m worried about messing up schedules, what they will think of the house, what will I say to them, will they like me as much as they like my husband (In his defense, he always says we have friends because of ME, not him. Great guy, huh?), etc., etc. I’m usually cajoled into entertaining, but I would be a lot happier if I were more comfortable with it.

  60. I tweeted about it! (@ejfalke)

  61. What a refreshing post. Just what I needed to hear. I don’t like being very flexible and have to say, I would have been the one to miss out on that amazing experience. I push dinner, but only when forced to due to kids sporting activities running late. Thanks for reminding me of several important things today!

  62. I guess at my husband’s birthday dinner. I usually tend to plan things to death, and then spend tons of money trying to make a big impression. Must be the fact that I am seven months pregnant, but this time, while I did plan some, I also relaxed my expectations, and my need to please, and I think everyone had a much nicer time.

  63. This happened to me a couple of weekends ago. We were hosting a BBQ in our backyard. Unfortunately it started to storm so the whole party had to be moved inside and dinner was a bit later because of bbqing in the rain. We all had a great time and everything turned out well in the end. It pays to keep a back up plan handy and not to sweat the small stuff when things like mother nature step in. I think this book would be great to have for an entertaining resource.

  64. I am a perfectionist. “Flexible” isn’t in my nature. Yet in the recent weeks, I’ve stretched myself to become a better wife and mom. Giving birth to our first son in July, it’s been a big time of adjustment because I have no choice but to let things go once in a while, but I’m also learning to be more disciplined in the ways that matter. Before our son was born (and in the first weeks after) I usually just whipped up some Trader Joe’s concoction every night and dinners were getting boring. I was getting frustrated with the same five meals (all involving pasta…hmm…) and though dinner was usually ready by the time my husband got home, they were all seriously lackluster meals and not the healthiest.

    In the recent weeks, I’ve been beginning to look up recipes and stretch my boundaries. I actually made chicken lasagna for the first time and though it took an hour and a half (I’ve never spent that long on dinner before), I did it! And on top of it all, it was absolutely delicious! I feel a new sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when I know I’m giving my family a balanced meal. Additionally, this week I made a meal plan that stretches out for the next month (with gaps for flexibility in plans)! I’ve never felt so confident about my cooking and feeding skills and I can’t wait to continue on this journey.

    I’m also an entertainer at heart and cannot wait to share some of my new recipes with family and friends. Though I am a perfectionist, I don’t get outwardly overwhelmed easily – my insides just crumble when I don’t get things right. I need to figure out how to let myself be flexible without feeling like a failure and figure out how to construct dinner in a timely and healthy manner. Overall, it’s a great learning process and I can’t wait to see who I become on the other side of things!

  65. Last week, I had to be flexible when a college student asked to do his laundry at our house. Glad we had a pot of chili, that stretched!

  66. That would be this past Wednesday when my husband asked if he could invite a friend over for dinner on his way out the door home from work. Luckily, I’m used to this – but its always a little reminder to try to bless, not impress people who come to our home (when there’s 45 minutes notice blessing is much more likely than impressing!).

  67. I’m trying to be more flexible with our schedule and playdates. The other mom is really good at this and can go with the flow and I’m trying to be more like her!

  68. I’m flexible all the time…except when it comes to having people over. At that point, I become a nervous wreck. I put on a decent “show” being outwardly upbeat, but I don’t enjoy myself.

  69. Honestly, it was probably 3.5 years ago – before the children. I hate to admit it, but we are VERY inflexible. I need to work on this!!

  70. would love to read this — not as good at this now that we have small kiddos!!! 🙂

  71. sadly…I cannot recall the last time I was able to be flexible. It was probably over the summer when our schedules weren’t so crazy.

  72. tweet complete

  73. This morning I was flexible with my time. My toddler is looking for a particular toy to buy with his birthday money and I had planned to go to Toys R Us and look for it and then drag him along on a bunch of errands for myself. But when we didn’t find it at Toys R Us, we abandoned my errands and went to two more stores to try and hunt it down. No success, but it was fun to devote the time to shopping with him instead of worrying about getting the things on my schedule done! Even though we didn’t find the toy (YET!) we had a great morning together.

  74. I myself am actually okay with being flexible but when you have kids who get tired, hungry and grumpy when not fed it makes it a lot harder to be flexible. So I really try to stick to a schedule. Not to say an improv late dinner never happens because they do!
    Love Sandy and can’t wait to get a copy of her book in my hands!

  75. For several weeks, my husband and I had been trying to arrange an evening with friends who are also mentors. Blockades included: couldn’t find babysitting, too uninspired/prepared to entertain due to intense schedule, budget didn’t allow going out.

    Finally we took some risks…First, we stayed in, inviting our friends to our house. Second, we paid our 10 year old and 8 year old children $1 per hour to read stories and put the 6 year old and 4 year old to bed. The older kids were allowed to stay up and watch a movie together upstairs. Third, (and this may have been the hardest) I accepted my friend’s offer to bring the main dish, while I provided a side and dessert.

    I’m so glad we “flexed” on all these points, because everyone gained something, including our children in their relationship with one another. And we experienced a much needed rich and fulfilling evening with some favorite friends.

  76. the last time I tried something different was an accident! I was cutting up a banana for my 1 year old and my 3 year old needed something. I mindlessly put the rest of the banana down on the baby’s tray and attended to my 3 year old. When I looked back at the baby, I realized she was taking bites of the banana! So I realized I don’t need to cut it up for her anymore. Sometimes I can be so set in my ways and forget to take cues from my children!

  77. I have actually become very flexible over the past few months and enjoy having many playdates and lunches at my house. However, my husband, who was raised in a home where the show for guests was extremely important, is having more trouble with the idea of hosting couples for dinner, kids or no kids. The last time I tried something new was Tuesday night when I made apricot-almond chicken and veggies for a friend who came over. It was quite enjoyable!

  78. My husband and I are very flexible with one another’s schedules, but we rarely entertain. It always seems like too much work. Something I need to improve on.

  79. The last time I was flexible? I’m not sure I’m as flexible as I could be but having a toddler kind of forces it on me. I may have one thing planned but his needs dictate a completely different plan. I just try to go with it.
    I love to entertain but its often a lot of work and I just wish I felt comfortable having friends and family come over at anytime without worrying if the house is clean.

  80. I just posted this tweet:
    Enter to win a copy of @SandyCoughlinRE ‘s book The Reluctant Entertainer on @SimpleMom

  81. We live in an 8oo sq. ft. home, kinda tiny, but not terribly small. That has always been my excuse for not having many people over.. and I have never been to confident about my own cooking. Last thanksgiving, we invited a younger couple over to have a thanksgiving supper with us. In the 2 years we had been married I had never made the effort to cook our own Thanksgiving meal, let along invite people over to eat with us. Well it worked out, and as far as I know everyone had a great time, even if it wasn’t just picture perfect in my mind…the point was I stepped out of my comfort zone and it was lots of fun. This book sounds just wonderful to read.

  82. As we live far off the beaten path, when our friends visit it’s never an early evening! We have some great friends that attend church services on Saturday night, while we spend Sunday attending and serving. Dinners with them are usually after church on Saturday night. It’s late & we’re all quite hungry by the time we eat, but it’s so worth being flexible and it’s always worth it!

  83. The last time I was flexible with a dinner time was about 3 weeks ago. We had some good friends bring us dinner after I arrived home with our newborn son and they couldn’t make it until late. My two slightly older children couldn’t wait that long so we made up some quick dinners for them and just a small snack for the adults. We had a wonderful time with our friends, and tasty food too, although it was later than we normally eat. I’m so glad we didn’t cancel the whole thing because it didn’t fit in to our regular schedule.

  84. i have yet to be that flexible with the kids. but my husband and I have pushed our dinner back for the sake of a later evening with good friends (while the kids slept away….) it was delightful!

  85. Julie Holland says:

    As far as dinner, I’m flexible quite often, with a teenager, a toddler, and a husband with health problems. I think it’s a lot of work to remain *truly* flexible, though–not just on the outside but the inside, too.

  86. Oh, its been a looooooong time since we’ve had a flexible dinner time. My baby seems to have a 6:30 pm internal alarm clock that signals her bath and bed time. We take it slow around here. My three year old daughter and I spent all day picking apples from our yard and baking a crust and apple pie to celebrate fall.

  87. It isn’t easy to do but the times I am flexible enough to just bless people I am so very very blessed. Specifically my husband has a young single friend who comes over every now and then on Sunday (I never know when he is coming or not) to work on music. I could have ignored the visit but I now find a way to make feeding him work. He doesn’t get a lot of home cooked meals being single and I understand being single he doesn’t have the habit of giving a lady warning when he is coming over but he also never complains about what I place before him and is always very appreciative.

  88. I love Sandy’s book! I love her encouragement and simple ways of doing things.

    Great post Sandy!

  89. I am not good about being agreeable to have a later dinner time because it feels like if I say we can have it a little later, then it always turns into two or three hours later. I did agree to a later dinner time last month on my birthday and it went well enough.

  90. We went to the park to hear my husband play a concert with the symphony. Mind you my kids had NO naps that day and I thought they were going to have food vendors there. We ended up eating 2 hours past our dinner time. In “kid speak” that is FOREVER! Thank GOD for goldfish crackers. We all had them as our “appetizer”

  91. Lesley Kuhn says:

    I love trying new things, my husband–not so much! So when I am invited to my daughter’s home for lunch, I can indulge in things new and wonderful..and that I’ve brought home and now cook here. The lastest is just simply fried zuchinni, who knew it was so good but I guess anything thinly sliced and then gently browned in butter and garlic should be yummy.

  92. In recent years I have gone a long way to being flexible in entertaining…but still have a ways to go. on the plus side I find when I am flexible my guests are too…helpful when there are kids and dogs running about! A few months ago a friend was coming for coffee..then brunch and it was nearing 1 when she arrived…but she came bearing soup and bread and we enjoyed each other’s company. Thanks for asking!

  93. I am pretty flexible but only with our family. I am very much a reluctant entertainer so we have not had anyone to entertain for quite a while now

  94. We had to be flexible with one of our guests who came to our party but could only sit in one place due to back trouble! We took turns as host & hostess sitting with him so he still felt part of the action and not isolated.

  95. As the mother of 3 young boys, I’ve learned that being flexible with things like dinners and outings as things come up make for a happier family and a happier mom. Last week my husband and I wanted to take the kids bowling. Hubby had to work later that night so we rescheduled it for the upcoming Friday evening so that he could be there as well. We had a great time!

  96. tweet is complete!

  97. Kelly Hollstrom says:

    Haven’t in a while…..we just moved into a small apt and don’t feel we have the room. This book would prob help me with the confidence to step out and do it anyway.

  98. Jennifer M. says:

    My daughter is a high school choir teach AND teaches piano in her home most evenings. She is so busy, and quite often her plans have to change. If we’ve made a date to have dinner together and something unforseen comes up, I can either pout and cancel, or show her how proud and supposrtive I am and just go with the flow. I’m the one who really wins….I get to spend time with her.

  99. I can recall times that I’ve made meals that will wait easily, like stew, so that our traveling guests didn’t feel pressured to arrive at certain time. It feels good to be able to say, “Just get here when you get here!”. Or to be able to be creative in menu planning enough to work around allergies and food sensitivities. For people who are used to having lots of limits on them, this can be such a blessing to people. To tell them it’s no trouble – and to make the same meal for everyone!

  100. I feel that everything must be perfect if I invite people to my house, so I’m afraid I don’t do it very often. Recently, however, some dear friends from far away called and said they were going to be in town for just one night. I invited them right over, and of course it was wonderful. I need to remember this.