“How ‘ya ‘doing Grandma?”
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I'm at home on a quiet afternoon getting ready for an impromptu dinner party. An unseasonably warm day for March .. the kitties are sitting in windows .. enjoying the first warm breezes of the season. Salsa is chilling alongside bottles of wine in the fridge .. lasagna in the oven
Later there will be bread crumbs at our feet .. tomato stains and candle wax drips on the tablecloth .. and blue lidded containers sent home with left-overs. A sink full of dishes best tackled after changing into pajamas
Later we'll sit down for dinner and share stories of winter vacations .. laughter .. advice.
But for now .. I Face Time with a toddler who I've missed .. so very much
— — —
“Did you get to visit your brother at the hospital today? It's such a bummer to be sick”
“Yep .. and guess what?! Mommy and I had pancakes with extra syrup! Grandma .. are you comin' visit?”
“I'm thinking about it, Sweetie”
“Ummm .. Oh, and I played wif trucks .. and I slid down the big hill into the snow with my f'nds”
“Tell me about the friends at your new school”
“Yeah .. and they tell me what to do some-thimes.. and I have to think if I want to do it. And then I have to think if I don't want to do it. But I have to think .. you know, Grandma? And then I have to do what I tell my-shelf to do”
“That's very wise”
I’ve always wanted to raise children of character .. not of compliance. I’ve always wanted them to ask questions .. to push back .. to buck the system when necessary
I’ve always forgotten to do the same
— — —
Today .. Part III of a short series devoted to “I can” vs “I can't” A series inspired by a friend and health coach who's on a mission to prove to her clients that “Yes .. they can!” Turns out the girl who's usually gung-ho .. tells herself “I can't” more often than I ever realized
I've been sharing how I've handled a few of my can'ts these past few weeks .. and found answers to the question
“So if you can't do that .. what can you do instead?”
The largest obstacle in my life-long battle with the scale has been .. by far .. falling off the wagon when I'm feeling sad .. worried .. stressed .. or anxious
During my 20s and 30s .. when it happened .. I binged. In my 40s I've stopped .. and instead find myself craving sweets when I haven't been hungry for them in weeks. Or in the kitchen mindlessly snacking at 2 am (or 2 pm and every hour in between)
It came to a head a couple of months ago when a late-night email threw me off my game. So much so .. that as the scale began its upward creep .. I sought advice from the counselor who's chair I've retreated to over the years. A kind soul with wise words .. for the times I'm feeling hopelessly stuck
He's been teaching me how to have a voice in these kinds of situations .. so I can feel empowered and turn less to food for comfort .. aka: boundaries
“You can create your own boundaries around how you allow others to speak to you.
It's up to you do decide what you're willing to take into your life. When in doubt .. ask yourself the question: Would you be ok if this were happening to a child or to someone you loved?”
“The first few times you say it out loud .. defend a boundary .. it's going to feel uncomfortable. Expect people to tell you why you're wrong or argue their point
Over time .. you'll discover the eating behavior that typically happens afterward will become less and less and less. You’ll go from a place of feeling like someone ran all over you .. to feeling like you had a voice” ~ Wise Words
I’ve had a long run of not thinking. I’ve had a long run of compliance .. of doing what’s expected .. of joining the masses in an attempt to keep the peace .. to not make waves .. to float through life without conflict .. without offense.
Sometimes it serves me well
Other times it does not
— — —
And so boundaries
If you're someone who's never had any .. establishing them is tricky (at best). We practice
“In this situation .. what would a normal person do?”
He smiles “What would you like to do?”
“I'd like to do this. But if I do .. I fear it will hurt someone's feelings .. or they'll be even more upset with me”
(Don't do what they tell you to do, Grandma)
I practice on my own. It goes badly .. most of the time. He and I practice some more
And then one day I start to notice something strange. Could it be .. that he was right? The last time I was in the kitchen at 2 am .. I was truly hungry and cut myself part of a grapefruit. The yearly delivery of girl scout cookies has gone untouched .. and I'm feeling
strangely in control
Last weekend .. breakfast was served in bed. It's early .. we're in pajamas .. and my husband is offering runny eggs + tomato over a friend's homemade sourdough. Three puppies + 2 humans + 2 kitties all smooshed onto the square of our bed .. vying for room to spread out
I feel the steady thump of Harry's heartbeat against my back. A wave of gratitude to be on the other side of a particularly challenging week. I know my husband feels it too. Do they know I'd choose this a hundred times if I could?
(Don't do what they tell you to do, Grandma)
— — —
What are some other tips and tricks .. for when life has gotten the better of us and we're feeling emotional?
( .. to be continued .. )
Some foods are memory triggers .. meals that send you back to long-forgotten moments in your life. The sloppy Joe sandwich is one such time machine
I loved the afternoons spent in the kitchen just he and I. Or as cooking with a three-year-old goes .. the snippets of time while he fluttered to and fro. One of our favorite sandwiches was the sloppy joe
This version is an adaptation from Betty Crocker .. and the closest I've come to the version my mother (and the lunch ladies) made when we were kids. They're a delicious mess-of-a-meal (three + napkins required). A sweet and spicy hill of thick sautéed ground beef and mushrooms spilling out of a bun.
Anything you want to put on them will never bad. They're such a fun way to make memories .. and a terrific antidote to pressures adulting
Guaranteed to serve up lots of sloppy smiles and kisses(!)
~ Adapted from Betty Crocker
- 1 lb ground beef
- 8 oz mushrooms, chopped
- ⅓ cup onion, chopped
- 1 cup ketchup
- ½ cup chili sauce
- 1 Tbsp natural sugar, optional (such as Sugar in the Raw or turbinado)
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1½ Tbsp cider vinegar
- 1 Tbsp ground mustard
- fine grain sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 6 hamburger buns, split
- In a large skillet, cook the beef, mushrooms, and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink and vegetables are tender; drain.
- Stir in the ketchup, chili sauce, sugars, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper.
- Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
- Serve on buns with your favorite toppings