Mental Overtime

Yesterday 3 amI got up after my usual menopausal restless night of sleep and went about my regular morning routine. I like my home routines. They give me peace, they center me. I can work through things in my head while going through my usual motions. Get the dog out, feed the dog, make sure son is up, make breakfast and lunch, put in a load of wash, see son off to school, tidy up kitchen and bathroom, make notes and lists.

At some point I paused in my routine and looked at my kitchen counter. This is what I saw.brain stuff
And I thought that it must look even worse inside my brain.

It is no secret that we women think about, and worry about, a ton of stuff. ALL. THE. TIME.   Our brains never really shut down. And sometimes in life – ok, pretty frequently in life — the usual quantity of “stuff” flying around up there gets even more crowded by additional issues.. a sick family member, an upcoming trip, an event to plan for… whatever it is, instead of taking something else away, we just pile it higher and deeper until we feel like our heads may just truly spin right off our bodies.   Come on, I know its not just me — anyone else checking to make sure you quite literally haven’t lost your head?

I imagine that inside our brains is an intricate factory with multiple levels with really, really busy workers, all who must be powered by caffeine because how else could they keep up?   Those factory workers are true multi-taskers, being bombarded with errant thoughts and worries that they are tasked to manage. Something like this:

Gotta pick up son after school have to call the hospital and possibly get up there at lunch to talk to doctors about family member need to jump on these 5 priority items as soon as I get to work the President wants to cut PBS funding? add notes for house sitter to the pre-travel to do list get some packing done tonight wait did I switch over the laundry? Not sure I liked that last episode of This is Us, what time is that meeting did the dog poop when he went out what am I going to wear? Oh crap more snow this weekend should I see the dermatologist about this spot on my arm need to pay the bills tomorrow get to the grocery store wow I’m tired why are my keys in the fridge?

It is no wonder that the factory workers in our brains get a bit cranky and mischievous and want to get back at the rest of our body at night. Oh, you think you are going to finally relax and rest? We real women crawl into our comfy beds, and do all the tricks we’ve learned to get to sleep…. Read, meditate, maybe even have whoopee with our partner, whatever it takes to feel that blissful feeling of drifting off to slumber land. Until around 2 or 3am, when those weary overtime brain workers decide to fight back. First they rouse the bladder to wake us up. Then they ask the legs to get restless. For those of us in the right phase of life, they then ask the endocrine system to throw in a hot flash. THEN, the fun begins with either truly bizarre and complex dreams, or just flashes of to do lists and world issues to ruminate about. The swirling begins, topics like work deadlines, household chores, worries about the children and the state of our country, and really vital subjects like should we paint the ceiling, and what if there really was a zombie apocalypse?  Eventually those trouble-making brainiacs calm down, the thoughts and twitching subsides and we slide back to sleep. 20 minutes before the alarm goes off.

With the light of day, we wake up, weary but feeling like we are the true wonder women we are, and we tackle our days. Some days are more successful than others. But conveniently, we always have other R.W.’s in our lives who are in the exact same boat and totally get it. They are the ones who make us laugh, give us a hug, and commiserate.

Best of all, we have each other’s backs – or shall I say back up brains. Have your brain factory people talk to my brain factory people, we’ll do lunch.  Let’s meet at 3:00, shall we?

 

 

 

 

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Energy, Aisle 5

Thank you for shopping face downWe call it Doing Rounds. When my BFF neighbor or I head out to run errands on a weekend, we’ll check in with each other to see if we can save the other one a trip somewhere.  Because we R.W.’s do too much running around.  No matter how well we plan ahead, there always seems to be something that needs to be done or bought or dropped off or cared for. For the majority of us who work weekdays, all that running ends up getting wedged into a weekend.  Those on alternative work schedules have to fit it in whenever possible during off hours.

Our “days off” turn into “doing rounds” days.  Even with our best laid plans to have down time doing fun activities, that other stuff sneaks in.  There will invariably be a need to schlep a child or two somewhere, stop to visit an ailing relative, get to the bank, have a hair or medical appointment, or visit any of our most common homes-away-from-home: the pharmacy, the grocery store, a Target or Walmart, or a Costco or BJ’s Wholesale.   There’s no escaping it, rounds happen.

As I have, over time, accepted this fate, I have begun to dream of a Fantasy World where all of that doing and running could be fun and reap rewards.  Just imagine how much we R.W.’s would welcome Doing Rounds Days if they included moments of “yay me”.   Deliver your son or daughter to a sporting event or music rehearsal five minutes early, receive a cupcake.  Fit in an ATM run, a hair cut, and getting the dog to the groomer within 90 minutes, pick out a free new pair of shoes. Master a trip with your children to buy school clothes and soccer cleats with no arguments or tears, be handed a bouquet of flowers. Battle the crowds at the grocery store and Target and return home with everything on your list, receive a massage and glass of wine.

See where I’m going with this?  But wait, there’s more.  What if the stores really had what we really need?  Not just band-aids, coffee, sink mats or whatever else is on our quest, but the items we wish we could put on our lists:

Extra energy, Aisle 5.

More hours in the day, Aisle 1.

Laundry done, folded and put away, Aisle 2.

Immediate loss of 10 pounds, Visit the end cap near the bakery.

Instant make-over,  Aisle 7.  (Remember the old days of “Glamour Photos?”  How cool would it be to go to the store in our usual sweats and no make up and come out looking amazing with no effort?)

Clean house,  Aisles 12 & 13.

Hot Flash Cool Down, Aisle 15.

Stress and Worry Reduction, Swing by the Service Counter.

If this store existed, every R.W. would be there weekly. But unlike our usual weekly stops, we all would be relaxed and happy to be there. Heck, we’d even look forward to it.  We already have cars that park themselves, computers that fit in our purse, and a box that heats our food.  Could our fantasy concept store and ERS (errands reward system) be that far behind?  I know I’ll be first in line when it happens.

By the way, you’ll notice that my fantasy world is not devoid of errands and “doing rounds”…. as if they could ever go away.  I’m not that silly and unrealistic.

 

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Going Out

ikeaOne of the weirdest things about being the mom of a teenager is the fact that I am watching him experience things that I remember doing myself, as if it was…well, ok, maybe not just yesterday. I remember my high school years so clearly, it just feels so strange that I have a son who is that age now.

Sure, a lot has changed, but in some ways it is like a warped form of déjà vu.  As he gets older, he is rightfully becoming more independent, social, and doing more activities outside of the house.  He has a strong core group of friends and an adorable girlfriend.  It used to be that any outings were with my husband and me, as a family unit.  Now, he “goes out” without us.   And at his age, “going out” usually involves going to a movie, or to roam the mall, or out to get pizza, or to a party at a friend’s house, or to go to a concert.   As I watch him go, I am of course nervous because he’s no longer with me as a little guy holding my hand, and I have to let him start to experience life independently.  I am also excited for him, because I have so many great memories of my teen years, and I want him to enjoy his life and be happy.  And honestly, I am a bit wistful.  I miss going to movies with a group of friends and eating a bucket of popcorn, or sitting with my BFF at Friendly’s to discuss life’s dramas while consuming giant Reese’s pieces sundaes.  I miss the excitement of going to my first concerts and live performances, dancing at parties at friend’s houses, roaming around “downtown” just because, and getting involved in any activity that included whichever boy I had a crush on at the time.

As we get older, “going out” changes.  In college, and once of legal age, it was all about dressing up and going to clubs and bars to listen to deafeningly loud music, do plenty of drinking and dancing, while simultaneously dreading and hoping to meet some new guy or get to know a new group of friends. There were still movies to see, sporting events to attend, and road trips to take with BFFs.  Parties got bigger and noisier and ran later.  Even more than in High School, it is a time for pushing the envelope of good behavior and hopefully in the end making wise decisions.

Then later in life, “going out” changes even more.  There is less of it, and more “staying in.”  Movies at the theaters change to comfortable nights at home watching Netflix.  Wild parties shift to dinners with friends.  Clubbing turns into a drinks and dinner with BFFs at a favorite restaurant, wearing far more comfortable clothing.  Road trips shift to either traveling to see family, taking kids to a vacation destination, or chick’s weekends full of shopping and talking. And dates change too.  Date night in mid-life isn’t about flirting with a cute boy over a slice of pizza, or hoping to dance with some hottie at a club or going to see the latest rock band.  Date nights become anything that takes us away from regular responsibility and chores, where we can spend time with our spouses or partners just talking or doing something fun.

This weekend, my husband and I drove my son and his girlfriend to a concert about an hour from home.  We all had supper together, then we dropped them off at the entrance of the venue.  They went in with a crowd of other young people to see a cool new alternative band.  The concert hall was near a local college, and my husband and I watched groups of  20-somethings “going out” in the town to any number of bars, parties and clubs.  The weather was unseasonably mild, and the amount of skin showing on the young women as they scurried by in their high boots and short skirts made us feel protective and old.

While my son and his girlfriend were at the concert, my hubby and I had at least a couple of hours for a “date night.”   There were no movies we really wanted to see, and we never even considered going to hang out at a bar – that was the us of years ago, not now.  So what, you ask, did we do?  We went and walked around IKEA.  After closing time (for IKEA, not a bar), we found a wifi hotspot not far from the concert venue, parked the car, and watched Netflix until the kids texted to say they were ready to be picked up.  And as all those college kids were just getting warmed up for their nights out, we were more than ready to take the drive home, well past our bedtime, and get some sleep.

To anyone under the age of 40, our date night probably sounds pathetic and antique.  But we had fun.  We were able to roam around that giant retailer together with no time constraints, no rushing, no big goal in mind, no one else to worry about.  It got us talking about ideas for the house, styles we liked or didn’t like, and how that had changed over time.  Later in the car we giggled over our favorite dysfunctional tv characters, and some of the real live characters we saw out our windows.  And best of all, we were able to let our teen have a great night of “going out” while keeping him relatively safe at a distance that made us comfortable.

I think we all gradually accept that our ideas of a good time shift as we travel through the phases of our lives. Surprisingly, rather than feel depressed that I’ve become an old fart, or like I’m missing out on some kind of excitement, I’m feeling happily comfortable with the choices I make.  I’ve “been there, done that” with the exhilaration of youth.  Now there’s a definite appeal to relaxing and reliving the enthusiasm through him when he comes home with stories…while I’m in my pj’s…sitting next to my cool new lamp from IKEA.

What did you do tonight?

 

 

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Dear Me

dear-me-photoLast night I enjoyed reading a well-written short article in the latest issue of AARP Magazine. I will now pause while you all snicker and chuckle over me admitting to not only receiving, but reading, AARP magazine.  Yeah, I know, it took me a while to admit to it. My husband and I have been receiving the magazine for about a year (yes, it is because we are card-carrying members…I like to point out I’m only receiving benefits because I’m married to an older man). I used to hide the cover when I was in public so people would think I was reading something like Cosmo or Real Simple.   But what the heck, time to be honest, it’s a good publication. And even better, some times some of the articles make me feel young. I won’t admit to how many others I can identify with…

Anyway… This particular piece was written by radio host Peter Sagal, and it was a note he had written to his younger self.   Now in his early 50’s, he was thinking about his life in his 20’s, and how if he could, he would send a note to his younger self about doing some things differently in life. Nothing huge that would have completely changed the course of his life, but more like tips on rolling with the punches, not being afraid, and adding something beneficial to the world, no matter how small. Most importantly, he advises his younger self to live every day like it is his last. He states “those of us on the wise side of 50 know that life will not be an endless banquet of choices.”   He ends his note by advising his younger self “you should not fret, neither should you fritter. Be calm…be not afraid. And get busy.”

Great advice. It got me thinking about what I would say to my younger self if I was given the chance to drop myself a note of wit and wisdom. What would I want young me to know?

First, I’d want to offer reassurance. Let Y.M. (Young Me) know that even though life is not always easy, there are going to be tough tines, scary times, sad times, but overall it all works out to be a pretty darn awesome life.

But more specifically here’s some things I would tell me:

  • Appreciate and enjoy your youth and beauty. Stop worrying about your hair or your skin blemishes or think you look ugly wearing glasses. In about 30 years you are going to look back at photos and think OMG, I was gorgeous.
  • Quoting my favorite, Nora Ephron: “Oh, how I regret not having worn a bikini for the entire year I was twenty-six. If anyone young is reading this, go, right this minute, put on a bikini, and don’t take it off until you’re thirty-four.”   That’s right, Y.M., enjoy that body. Go ahead and even flaunt it some. Enjoy the fact you can eat a Reeses Pieces Sundae with your BFF and not gain an ounce. Because in the future there will come a time when the only way you can lose weight is by having the flu.
  • Date more. Be a little wild.   Be proud of being a good girl, and a long-term relationship kind of woman. But fit in some casual fun. Go to more parties and dress up and go to more clubs. Have a one-night-stand. Test those waters before you go off into the sunset with your forever man.
  • Be more daring to try new things and seek work that makes you happy. Want to make a change? Go for it. Talk to people in other professions, take a class in something new. Don’t expect that what you thought you wanted at 17 will still be what you want at 50. And most of all, if you aren’t happy at your job, find something new. Don’t spend 9 hours a day miserable.
  • Pay attention and listen to the older generation. Visit them often. Learn skills from mom, because years later when she’s not there to call, you’ll wish you had learned more. Truly listen to stories from Grandma, Dad, and your Aunts and Uncles.. and record them or write them down. That is your real life history, and in the future when the people who told them are not longer here, don’t let that information be lost forever.

And lastly, Y.M., laugh until you pee. Often. Find joy, not drama. You will make amazing friends who become family, so appreciate them. Enjoy literally every moment. Who knows what happens next after this life, so we better take advantage of the time we have here.

But don’t worry, I’ll send another note in the future and let you know. Just keep your eyes open.

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Simply Fortunate

world-on-shouldersLately it seems like we are all carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders. Around the kitchen table, at social gatherings, and on social media, we are having far more discussions about the future of our government, political decision-making, foreign relations, the power of others, and the widening gap between rich and poor, than chats about fashion, food and fun.   It was a welcome relief when we all momentarily diverted our attention to football and Lady GaGa. Yet even the excitement over the historical game results and the aerial vocalist’s outfits and fireworks were short-lived. Within 48 hours we were back to travel bans and Senate confirmations. Luckily we in the northeast have an impending snow storm to chat about, and can break up the monotony of worldly worries by having bread and milk parties in the grocery stores for a few hours.

As much as I hate to see our country so divided and restless, I do think it is admirable that so many of us are trying in our own ways to take action, to speak out, to show support for what we each believe in and try to make a difference on a grand scale. But after a while, it just gets tiring. We need diversions. We need to start thinking about the “small” things again. To pay some attention to the areas in our lives where we do have more control. This morning I started to consider how we could all press the pause button in our complaining and worrying and get back to being a bit more thankful. Maybe spend a bit of time recognizing how fortunate we are to have the simple things in life. Plainly stated, I’m attempting a shift in perspective.

Last night I got my haircut. The stylist kindly fit me in last minute, when my hair had reached what I call “flashpoint” and suddenly was unruly and shaggy. The weight-of-the-world-complaining me would see the appointment as “another thing” to try to fit in to a busy day and evening, making me miss my workout, and I was tired. But wait a minute. What really was happening is that someone pleasant to talk to, with skills and abilities far beyond my own capabilities, was pampering me by washing my hair, cutting and styling it and making me feel and look better than I did when I walked in the door. Huh. Ok. Lucky me.

This morning when the alarm went off my first reaction, same as always, was “oh, noooo, not already. I feel like I’ve only been asleep for about five minutes. I don’t wanna get up.”   The simple reality is that I have a comfortable bed in a safe and secure house with electricity and plumbing. I had hot water and great smelling soap so I could take a shower. I had a variety of clothes to choose from to put on (yet how many mornings do I stand in my closet and think “ugh, I’m so sick of these clothes, I have ‘nothing’ to wear”?). I’m fortunate.

It was a busy morning of getting my son off to school, taking care of the dog, getting myself ready for my day, covering to-do’s with my hubby, and hurrying to get out the door early to head out on a business trip.   Yup, lots there to potentially complain about.  Really? Why? Because I have a smart and fairly self-sufficient son who can make his own frozen waffles before shuffling out the door? Because I have a completely adorable and sweet pup? Because I have a hubby who’s willing to drop off a package at UPS for me and carried my suitcase to my car?

Speaking of being fortunate, I find myself very much in a minority of women who love their jobs. It took me a lot of years to find it. My hubby and I both work very hard, and put in lots of hours. But not only are we among the lucky to be employed, but I love what I do, and who I do it for. Shame on me if I don’t take a moment every day to pause and be thankful. Shame on any of us who aren’t appreciative of being able to bring home a paycheck to pay the bills.

My trip today required air travel. Oh, boy, LOTS of potential for inconvenience, discomfort and complaining there. Let’s face it, flying can no longer be categorized as a fun experience. We also hear way too many horrible things about what “could happen”, which can give us nightmares or anxiety attacks. Which again pulls us back into worrying about the big scary world and what’s wrong with it. But today, even cutting my time a bit closer than I had intended, I got checked in and through security in a breeze. I was able to get a vanilla chai tea, and log on using the airport’s free wifi on my laptop to take care of a couple of work things before getting on the plane. How privileged.

The flights were packed, and since today I was traveling via Southwest with unassigned seating, and luck of the draw was in the last group to board, I ended up in one of the last available middle seats. Comfortable? Nope. Even the steward jokingly said “sit back and get comfortable in your 32” wide seats.”   I took my Airborne this morning to fight back the swirling cloud of germs I’d be breathing in all day. But what are the alternatives? Attempt to drive 3,000 miles to my destination, which would take six days, rather than being there in six hours?   Or not make the trip at all?   My best option would be to be like I Dream of Jeannie and blink myself there. But that’s not gonna happen. Trust me, I’ve tried. So there I was, literally winging my way across the country.   Advantaged.

During my travel, I’m lucky in another way. For hours at a time, I’m disconnected from the news. I’m disconnected from social media. I hear smatterings of conversations around me, or maybe briefly exchange pleasantries with another traveler. I spend time looking through magazines, reading a book, or writing. None of which has anything to do with trying to solve the world’s problems. And it is a lovely diversion.

Please don’t mistake my escapism as complacency. Just like so many other R.W’s out there, I care, and I care a lot. I worry. A lot. I take action when appropriate. I learn, I listen, I try to make good decisions. And I pray. A lot.

But once in a while, we need to be a bit less like Atlas, set that world down, take a break, and be glad for what we have.

Sometimes we just simply need to go buy milk and bread.

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Needing to be Needed

text“When your children are teenagers, it’s important to have a dog so someone in the house is happy to see you.” – Nora Ephron

Oh, sure, we all complain. We all get weary of feeling like we are being pulled in a dozen different directions every moment of the day.   We have moments of wanting to scream – whether it is from having young children and hearing Mom. Mom. Mommy. Mom. Mommy. Ma. Mom. MO-OOM! all day, or from caring for an elderly parent who calls incessantly, requesting help with a tv remote or because they are confused which medications to take..or it could be because of a sick pet who has made messes all over the house and is up five times at night…or never ending chores and errands that fill a whole weekend…or needy co-workers with chaotic deadlines. No matter what the source, we all reach a point where we are tired of responsibilities, and we want some alone time. We dream of running away to a deserted island all by ourselves, no one to take care of but ourselves.

At least we think that is what we want. But in reality, isn’t it really the opposite? Even if we don’t want to admit it, don’t we R.W.’s have a basic human desire to be needed?   Men do too, I suppose…but I think for them, they get their energy more from feeling appreciated and admired. Women need to be needed. Which makes us feel loved – and indispensible.  How many of us have exasperatedly proclaimed like any good martyr “I don’t know how my family could ever cope without me!” while secretly being happy that they would be just ruined without us.

Truth is, they could cope. If we did run off to that tropical island, our loved ones could survive and be just fine. Sure, it may be messy, and not the way we’d like it, but they would find their own ways to cope. To test this, take a trip away from home, even for just 24 hours. Upon arriving back home, you will likely be greeted by dishes in the sink, unmade beds, leftover pizza, a bored pet, and uncompleted homework. But they will have survived.

My husband and I are currently binge-watching the Netflix series Shameless. For any of you who are not familiar with the show, it is aptly named. It is a frequently shocking, sometimes disturbing, ‘dramedy” about the most dysfunctional family you’d ever see. At the core are six siblings who have grown up with no parental guidance (at least no good, healthy guidance) in the south side of Chicago. And although it is of course a tv show, it is an illustration of the power of survival. The kids are messy, rough, crude con-artists – but somehow they keep a roof over their heads and (some) food on the table. But whoo, boy, could they use a mom.

When our children are little, they need us for EVERYTHING. Eating, walking, getting dressed, making decisions. But as they get older, their dependence on us lessens. They learn to do things for themselves, and make their own decisions. Some good, some bad, but we don’t have to take care of them every moment. It can feel kind of wonderful to have more freedom…. Until…. we miss it.

This morning before I left for work, I got a text from my son from school. He had apparently forgotten to tell me he was out of lunch money in his school account. He had no cash on him, and no food in his backpack. I had two options. One, exhibit tough love and teach the Sophomore that he’s old enough to keep better track of things and let him go hungry. Second, realize that it is easy to forget these things and that even if he had told me, I could have forgotten to give him money. I had visions of him passing out from hunger. So of course I made him a lunch and dropped it off at school.

I haven’t made him a school lunch in probably about two years. You know what? It was kind of fun. It made me feel….well, needed. In a really basic, simple, mom-ish kinda way. The best part? Was his text at lunch time. “This lunch is fantastic. Thank you.” I even got a “love you too.”

He may be five inches taller than me, learning to drive, and headed to college in a couple of years. But today, he needed his mom to do something nice for him.

So I suppose I’ll put off that trip to a deserted island… at least until tomorrow.  Because what would they do without me?

 

 

 

 

Posted in Chores, communication, family, Helping others, home, home chores, Kids, meals, Relationships, school, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Food Economics

mini-saladOne of the many reasons I hate grocery shopping is because it is so dang time consuming. When I shop, I’m generally shopping for a week to two-weeks worth of groceries. Since I cook dinner at home almost every night, and pack my breakfast and lunch from home, and have a skinny teenage boy who eats every two hours, that’s a lot of food. But it’s not just the quantity that slows me down. It’s the price comparisons, the expiration date checking, and the coupon organizing. I can’t just grab and go, I’ve got to analyze.

And I’m not even really good at it. Some of you R.W.’s out there are the Masters of Food Deals. You browse every flyer and ad and plan your shopping destinations based on the best deals. You have mounds of coupons, and know which stores will double or triple them. You get rebates and two-for-ones. You are dedicated and efficient, and I’m very impressed. Me, however, I’m just trying to get what I need without having to take out a second mortgage to do it, and to get done and home in under two hours.

And that’s another big reason I hate grocery shopping. Every time, without fail, no matter how careful I’ve been, I get sticker shock. There was a time in my life when things were tough and I carried a calculator around with me to keep track of my total, putting things back if I got over budget. I’m blessed that I no longer need to do that. But that doesn’t mean I can just buy anything and everything willy nilly, and grab only the top brands. I compare prices of the store brand vs. others. I do the math to figure out the best value by quantity. I do clip coupons, even if some weeks I’m only saving a whopping $2.50.   So I try to be wise and clever, yet when I’ve piled my purchases on the conveyor belt, and the cashier tells me my total, I’m still pained.

As I load my groceries into my car and drive home, I start to do food economics in my head in an effort to make myself feel better. I’m shopping for 3 of us, plus occasional friends or guests who may visit. So here’s how I rationalize my bill. Three of us, for let’s say 8 days of groceries, multiplied by the number of home-prepped meals, minus the meals purchased out, and I come up with approximately 46 meals. If I have spent $250, that comes out to approximately $5.43 per meal.   Ugh, don’t think that makes me feel any better, sounds pretty pricey.

I have to admit that from time to time I do get bored with my home-prepped meals. Every morning is pretty much the same, I take to work with me fruit and yogurt and some sort of cereal bar or a slice of quick bread. Lunch is one of three things: leftovers, salad, or a cardboard heat ‘n eat meal (aka Lean Cuisine).   Once in a while I gotta be wild and crazy and stop at a Dunkin Donuts or get a lunch out. And, let’s all face it, some nights we just don’t have the energy or desire to cook, so we do take-out or go out.

Today was one of the lunch-boredom days. I had a lack of desire for my heat n’ eat meal, and I had a spare 45 minutes between meetings and hankerin’ for a good salad that I hadn’t made myself. So for the first time in months I went to Panera for take-out. There were two things that made me happy: First, they still make my favorite salad. Second, they now offer a choice of half-size or full-size. I wish every restaurant offered portions. Jolly and excited to enjoy my lunch, I paid for my little half-size salad, a chunk of bread, and a medium fountain drink. Then the cashier rang me up. $9.50.   WHAT?   $9.50 for THAT?   For a tiny salad that probably took the food prep folks 4 minutes to throw in a to go container and a piece of bread chopped off a larger loaf?   Talk about sticker shock. As I got back to my desk and opened my mini salad, which didn’t even come half way up the sides of the container, I realized there was no way to do mental food economics to make it any better. Yes, I ate every last bit of it, and it was yummy. But for $9.50, my bread chunk should have gotten up and tap-danced on my desk.

In a way, it made me feel better about my weekly sojourn to that place I hate. Perhaps my $5.43 average meal cost for groceries isn’t so bad. After all, some of those meals are full-on hearty dinners. Not quaint little bits of rabbit food.

Funny thing too… you would think that with my efforts to manage my food bill and cut costs, I’d buy less food and eat less, thus losing weight.   Not so much. Because buying healthy food like fresh fruit and veggies, especially in January, is expensive. And somehow I always seem to manage to still buy all my favorite foods that start with c: carbs, cookies, chocolate, and chips.   I’m a whiz at finding sales and coupons for those.

So the vicious cycle continues. I cook, we eat, I shop. I wince at the total. I rationalize. But every once in a while, I’ll hit some really good deals or find a coveted $5 off the total order coupon, or maybe – just maybe – come in a few dollars under budget. And I’ll head home with my trophy: buy-one-get-one oreos.

Because heck, I earned them.

 

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