Monday, September 25, 2017

Daughters and Mothers

I had a distant relationship with my mom. I was the 7th daughter, 9th child, so she had been through the rounds multiple times before. She was already pretty worn out and tired by the time I came along at age 39, consistently a bit angry all the time. Growing up, she cared for the family basic needs, but limited investment of energy in "relationship things" with the last of us four youngest, all girls. She didn't go to school conferences because "they just tell you the same things anyway." She liked to externally brag up any accomplishments we might have had, but to our faces, they were hardly acknowledged. She didn't know, want to know, our friends, except perhaps boyfriends later. I got along with her, due to staying under the radar in my family, not making waves, pretty much trying to be ignored. 

Ironically though, she had an affinity for 4-H and would take vacation time the week of the county fair, diligently worked her shift and then some in the 4-H building, transporting us back and forth. Plus, she didn't skimp on hosting our turn for the monthly 4-H meeting, serving hot dogs, chips, lemonade, brownies and cookies after the meetings. She also loved to go to the summer 4-H softball games. I grew into adult hood and she became an empty nester finally after 38 years of parenting. She ended up being a pretty invested grandma, much more so than I remember as a mother, to my and my sisters kids. She came to all their activities including concerts, sporting events, grandparent days, and while still healthy, loved to babysit. It will be seven years come November since she passed away.

My relationship with my daughters is very different. I don't know if that means it is a better relationship, but is very different. I prioritize being mentally available for my kids, ready if they need to bounce ideas off, have sad days and need consoling, opportunities that they need to talk through to make choices from, and to know they have my unconditional support. Some might accuse me of helicoptering, but I don't think so. I just want them to know they can come to me with anything. Believe me, I did not go to my mom if I was having social or school issues-if anyone, and this was rare,  I was more likely to go to my next older sister, who was only three years older than me. She herself was a mix of caring older sister and teenage bully at the time, so I picked carefully what angst I might share with her. Still, despite not having a close touchy feely relationship with my mom, or really anyone in my family growing up, I had an OK childhood, most likely from my intentional emotional distance.

I try hard to separate the boundaries of parent and friend, though I think my girls see me as at least relatable when we spend time together and we have many similar interests. I'm not a big fan of the mom style of trying to be the cool mom, the mom who insists they are their daughters best friend. They have their own and I have my friends. We can enjoy our time and conversations and being mother and daughters, but there is a difference. While I think my mom started seeing us kids as a burden to get through, at least until we graduated high school, I am regularly in awe that I am a mother. I have no expectations of my adult children, though hold wishes that they will choose to keep me an active part of their life. My own mom put a lot of guilt on us in her last couple years. Depression, that probably was undiagnosed but present most of her life, manifested in blatant jealousy of the other side of our family's. Interestingly, the guilt seemed to be saved for just us four youngest, the ones that received so little of her emotional energy growing up, where as the older ones seemed to get a pass to come and go AWOL for weeks on end.

I am not sure what stirred all this up with me to the point of writing about it. My mom wasn't Mommy Dearest, and I'm no Carol Brady. I am sure we were not so different than other mom-daughters from large families. Perhaps it was hanging with my sisters, the four youngest, the other night, and a few old memories popped up in conversation. It might be stirring as DH takes on more help for his gradually becoming less independent mom. Perhaps with my youngest daughters new found independence as a driver, starting to plan her post high school life, I am feeling a mix of nostalgia with a heavy dose of  reality. Whatever stirred these emotions, we can't change the past, but we can hopefully reflect and learn from it. I'll end by saying how much I love all my kids, and I really love my relationship with my daughters right now and hope to keep it this way.
An old selfie of me and my girls from Mothers Day 2015.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Meal Plan Tracking-Not For Me

As much as I love reading and getting ideas from others, tracking what we actually ended up eating is not for me. The planning part though, I'm getting a little hooked on. There is something reassuring, calming almost, in looking at what is on hand on Sunday, deciding what you might need to buy, and then committing to paper a series of tasty menus. The point that I may or may not follow is irrelevant, but having the  options spelled out is a what's working for me not succumbing to expensive take out, overspending on last minute ingredients,or throwing the entire towel in and just going out for supper. In reviewing though, I hardly remember what we ate yesterday let alone five days ago. Going forward, my Sundays will be "Possible  Menu for the Week." You may recognize things from the week before that never got made. What's possible this week?

  • Turkey Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and green beans
  • Chicken cutlets on bun with sweet potato wedges 
  • Chili dogs or hot dogs dogs with pasta salad
  • Tuna noodle hot dish with peas
  • Turkey burgers, salad with cucumber and avocado slices
  • Spaghetti and meatballs
  • Italian chicken, roasted potatoes, mixed vegetables

Prepping for lunches: tuna salad, egg salad, tomato-black bean-corn salad eating up the last of the fruit from a week ago. Snacks and breakfast prepping includes muffins and pumpkin bread, pre-made chocolate chip cookie dough that DH bought. 

Tuesday will need to be heat and eat leftovers so hoping with what I make on the weekend I can end up with a serving for DH and DD. I have a presentation in northern Minnesota so will be leaving at the crack of dawn to pick up a company car. I'll have the three hour drive, network, present, have lunch and hear the key note speaker, then hit the road again. I need to make it to DD's school by 6:15 for a mandatory parent-participant meeting for choir. 

Anyone else out there like the planning, but the execution leaves you stifled? Are you a die hard meal planner, or more of an option creator? What's your favorite meal to make extra portions for intentional leftovers because it reheats well? Let's have a chat. 



Saturday, September 23, 2017

Non Frugal Grateful Post

We are hemorrhaging money this month. The will continue for several months as we have three more show choir payments to make, our October (though trying to make it thrifty) October anniversary trip, a college visit road trip, Halloween,  birthdays, Christmas, leading up to the show choir travel season. We booked hotels for Omaha, Nebraska and Branson, Missouri, but not prepaid because we may learn other parents are staying in another location so may want to cancel and rebook. The other competitions are day trips, but still spendy with gas, meals, and entry fees.We've made payments for two different choirs, robe and t-shirt fees, a parking pass for DD, and had additional patches put on her high school letter jacket. New school clothes and school supplies added to this. We've had some spendy gatherings for friends and work colleagues, that included spending more than we would on ourselves for food and drinks plus gift buying. We've been making  donations to various organizations for hurricane relief and want to do more. We've made donation to our local food pantry as the needs haven't gone away here because of storms in other places. 

I don't know if September will see much savings, certainly not what I would have thought a few months ago knowing it was a three paycheck month and I had received a sizable raise the end of July. I'm not grousing or complaining though. Rather, I feel so fortunate as to what is available to me, that I should be counting every dollar spent as a blessing. It means we have the dollar; we have  friends and family to buy celebration and birthday presents for. Our daughter is attending a great school with incredible extra curricular activities. We have a church community that supports its members, its community, and the greater world and we get to be a part of that through our offerings and giving. We have a home that despite the needs for improvements, it is warm (or cool as needed due to 90+ temps), and dry, with food and other needs readily at arms length. 

I know we need to continue to save for our future retirement, DD2's college, and weddings perhaps in the future. But for now, we are spending where we need to. I am sounding like a broken record when I say this is why I try to save where I can-mostly on clothing, groceries, and household, so that I have the luxury of feeling grateful, not burdened, when we  spend with purpose and intent. I'm off to clean my house, launder and perhaps repair a few items of clothing, make a batch of chili for supper (not yet made from the plan), and use up ingredients for a double batch of muffins. DD2 has a study and sushi gathering today, and DH is at work. Tonight, perhaps we'll go for another river walk, taking advantage of this unseasonably warm weather. Mostly, I just want to bask in this feeling of gratefulness.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Feeling Good Friday-Slow and Steady

Woo hoo! I am officially declaring my weight loss back to the 14 original pounds I had lost by the end of July. Putting back on four pounds was not my intent, and getting them to come back off was incredibly slow, but I'm there. This week there was a NPR segment about how there is no right way to lose weight and it is highly individual. I understand that. The dietitian also shared the cold, hard truth. The behaviors and habits one exhibits when they successfully lose weight must really be maintained after the fact. This explains why those weight loss contestants just can't keep the same weight loss after the cameras are turned off. No one has time for 2- 3 hours of personal training (unless that is your actual job), and access to a controlled kitchen where no one around you is ever eating french fries and drinking beer. 

Take my daughter for instance. She has lost  a lot of weight in the last 14 months. She was always a healthy girl and physically active, but the subtle and consistent changes she made to her life, eliminating certain foods like sugar and simple carbs, increasing her already vegetarian diet to even more plant based meals, and adding more strength training to her exercise routine resulted in weight loss. She was never on a "diet" and this is her regular lifestyle. This is what I am aiming for. We can learn from our young 'uns. 

Self imposed lesson over, here's my run down of five health and well being successes for the week, cradled with a few gaffs. 

  • I already shared the 1.8 pound loss, getting me back to my 14 pound total, or as the Brits say, a full stone. (slow and steady)
  • I ended up reffing volleyball Wednesday night, which kept me tie wise from having more than a single beers with the girls who were done an hour and 1/2 before me. I did though nibble on handmade onion rings-a vegetable right? Sort of?I hadn't been out with my sisters in ages so this was good for my mental health. (lifestyle-share portions)
  • A get together last night after work for my former boss, who moved on to be a bigger mover and shaker, was really nice. We shared four appetizers among six of us, so not to calorie laden, and I learned bacon friend brussell sprouts are heaven. I kept my alcohol to just two pinot grigio's, so lighter on the calorie count. I admit though, I was pretty hungry when I got home, and DH had made penne pasta with Alfredo and chicken, and I heated up a small portion. (lifestyle choice next time-skip pasta, eat a piece of fruit)
  • At a breakfast meeting this week, I opted for steel cut oatmeal as opposed to the high fat, high sugar, simple carb pastry options that were screaming to me from the bakery case. For 100 calories less, I still had a spot of sweet with the maple brown sugar, and was fueled for the whole morning instead of the likely 11:00 sugar crash. (lifestyle changes-avoid the bakery case for breakfast meetings)
  • Twice on walks this week with pup, I went the extra blocks, even with needing to be somewhere, adding a couple hundred steps each walk. I did two 11 minute sessions of yoga this week, from an on line teacher. (lifestyle choice-always walk the longer route, fit in even short amounts of exercise)
None of the good things are going to give me significant weight loss. But, even the calorie filled choices won't derail slow and steady progress if most of the time, the right things are being done. I'll keep reporting my progress, but I'm done with time sensitive weight loss goals. While I would love to be 50 pounds lighter a year from now, I'll be pleased with any progress.