Smiles anyone?

Wally - not so happy dog

Wally - not so happy dog

Happy Face…not today 😮
It is CRAPPY outside today. The sky is the color of dirty socks and the rain is starting and stopping like it can’t make up its mind. I think I just want to crawl under the covers and stay in bed all day. Unfortunately this is sooooo not an option as there are kids to get off to school, laundry that needs to get started and definitely work to get to. It is almost more than I can handle to face the things I have to do, let alone the things I should do. It’s like a disease in the house as I sense everyone, even Wally the dog, seems to be dragging a bit today. I’ll be the first to say that, for the most part, I’m a pretty positive person. I’m typically happy for my health, food on the table and a roof over my head. Today is not one of my better moments. It’s probably day 3 of feeling less than stellar. No matter how hard I try, on these days it’s not easy to pull a happy face out of nowhere. A good attitude can go a long way to making a day go well, but this is not my destiny today. Now what? How can I possibly think about ways to be healthy and well when I can’t muster up the energy to match my socks!?!

I resist the urge to stay in bed and struggle down to the kitchen. I’m going to try to stack the deck in my favor by having breakfast. The only thing worse than being cranky in the morning, is being hungry and cranky. Two over-easy eggs, a piece of whole grain toast, a banana and a cup of coffee later and I start to feel slightly more human. The kids have stopped bickering long enough to have the same breakfast minus the coffee and only one egg for Renee. Everyone is out the door and we are off to trudge through our day. Now had we tried rushing out the door with a toaster pastry (you know the kind) wrapped in a napkin, I’m guessing our morning would’ve continued on the shaky route. I know I was able to think more clearly with a good breakfast to start. At the end of the day the kids came home with most of their stuff which means they paid attention long enough to bring home the right books. Evan came home with only ½ his gym uniform to wash but he would’ve forgotten the whole thing if he didn’t have breakfast. This is when I’m grateful for small things.

We are practicing the art of living on a tighter budget. Not fun. We all pack lunches on most days. After doing this for quite some time, our kids now prefer a packed lunch to school lunches. We were in a rut for a while when all the kids wanted was peanut butter and honey sandwiches. We filled in with a variety of veggies/fruit, cheese stick, whole grain crackers/pita chips/pretzels, a treat and a bottle of water. Fortunately they have now branched out to turkey, ham, and cheese sandwiches as well. I didn’t find the need to fight them about having pb and honey sandwiches every day because I need to pick my battles and this one was not worth fighting. We use whole grain bread and natural peanut butter so what’s there to fight about? It’s not crucial to use natural peanut butter, but do try to find one with the shortest list of ingredients that you can afford. If you are transitioning to whole grain bread, just put the white bread on top and the slice of whole grain on the bottom. Before long you won’t have to be sneaky, they’ll get used to the texture and look of it all.

Make sure you take the time to feed yourself as well as you feed your children. What good are you going to be to anyone fueled by a huge plate of greasy take out and a diet cola? Experience tells me a food coma is in the near future…what does your experience tell you? Along the same lines, surprisingly, is the all anemic salad lunch. This will not fuel you either. Misguided efforts at health sometimes result in suffering through skipping breakfast, grazing on an iceberg lettuce salad and dragging until you succumb to the drive-thru window because you are now STARVING!!! Lunch (and any meal or small snack) should always include a protein, good carbohydrate and a reasonable amount of fat. Blah blah blah…. Examples please. Salad is a good choice if done well. Be sure to use a dark leafy green as your base. Iceberg lettuce is for hamsters and rabbits. Try romaine, arugula, or spinach. Add protein in the form of hard boiled eggs, beans, diced chicken, ham, nuts. A reasonable amount of fat can be a bit of vinaigrette, cheese, or avocado. Take it easy on the dressing. You know it’s yummy, but don’t undo all your good intentions. Soup and ½ a sandwich is a great lunch. Steer clear of the cream based soups that look more like pudding than a soup. Broth based soups like minestrone, beef barley, or vegetable soup will fill you up just fine. Take a walk afterwards to get in a quick 10 minutes of activity and you’ll be ready to get through the last ½ of your work day. A walk gives me a chance to breath something different than “work air”, think about things other than “work thoughts”, and see things other than “work stuff.” I know I’m crankier without this mental and physical break. Don’t know if I’m ready for a full on smile yet, but I know I’m headed in the right direction.

Coming home I have a sea of faces greeting me at the door. One very excited dog and 3 kids that all need “MOM, mom, mom, mom” for one reason or another. I see Alex, my husband in the background with the “what’s for dinner honey?” face. On days like these I’ve got left-overs in the freezer or fridge or there is something in the crock pot. This makes my life less crazy and the family fed. The dog gets walked by someone- whoever needs it most. You get nominated in my house if you have a lousy attitude, are bouncing off the walls, or if you are annoying me. I have 4 real contenders today so all 3 kids are out the door with Wally wagging happily. Alex is helping me get dinner on the table in between answering those last pesky work emails of the day. We don’t always sit around the table for dinner but we do try to do it as often as possible. I won’t write about the food we had for dinner because there will be more blogs about that. After everyone sits at the table and stops asking for one more thing, stops complaining about who got what fork/plate/cup, and stops poking one another, it’s time to eat. It seems at this moment we take a collective breath. We take the time to be thankful. The moment is brief as dinner gets underway with chatter and constant interruption and the continuation of the disagreement that happened on the dog walking adventure. It is in this moment that I finally find that smile because although the weather is still crappy, we stacked the deck in our favor to have a day that was, in the end, worth smiling about. Eat well, move a bit, take a moment, and your crappy day doesn’t have to end up the way it started.

Live well!
Toni Kuhel


4 thoughts on “Smiles anyone?

  1. Sitting around the table can be tough, but it’s a nice time to sit and catch up, breathe a little bit. Let’s make sure we do that at least a couple times next week!

  2. Just wanted to tell you I’ve been reading this every day….
    I’ve also decided you need to come to my house and cook for my family.
    I’ve been working 9-10 hour days, and have to work at least 2-3 weekend full days per month just to “hit my quota required”. The hubby is even less capable of cooking dinner than I am, and he most often does the grocery shopping (so not complaining about that, sort of) so our pantry/fridge is rarely stocked with healthy options. We seem to have the same lists each week. I open the fridge/pantry and think to myself – there is nothing I really want to eat in here. Often after arriving home well after 7 or even 8, I will feed those that may have not eaten (usually the 2 older “kids”), change, bathe the little one… By the time I even get to figure out what I want to eat (not the regular pre-packed, salt laden flavored pasta in my pantry), I am so tired I opt NOT to eat or grab a bowl of Strawberry Mini Wheats. Then comes the – are you going to come and spend some time with me – which usually consists of sitting on the couch while he remotes thru the channels at a rapid pace, and I pick up the laptop to check and see what the world has been up to. Finally hitting the hay after 11 each night….only to get up and start all over at 6 the next day….

  3. Jules – Thanks for reading my blog everyday. A peek into your day exhausts me so I can only imagine how draining it is for you. I’ll be posting some quick, tasty, healthy meal/snack suggestions in the near future. Get friendly with your crock pot and freezer. I’ll come by some weekend and get you started. For the rest of you all…we’ll blog all about that and I’m sure it will be full of laughs along with some useful info.

  4. Great stuff Toni! I really enjoy your blog.

    Just want to add that I’m trying to pull myself out of the habit of finishing the kids’ food. There’s always food left on at least one of their plates (if not both) and I’m often guilty of polishing off their food, sometimes in addition to my own. You’re not kidding about the clean plate club being a bad habit of our generation (do you still hear “kids are starving in the Philippines” in your head?). We’re pretty good about letting the kids stop eating when they are full, we just have to follow that rule ourselves too!

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