Wednesday, September 3, 2014

No gratitude, no good food - no problem.

Last night, I was in a foul mood.

It came on suddenly. It was a busy day. We had just gotten back from Charlevoix on Monday night, so on Tuesday the day's list included cleaning out the car, doing all the laundry, and unpacking.

YES, I posted a blog, too. So maybe I was a bit upset with myself for "wasting" time. (Though the reason I post on this blog is for the future, and I don't believe any of this effort is wasted. Nevertheless, I had a lot to do yesterday.)

Anyway, my foul mood rode up on the back of Dinner. Here I am, racing around the house at 4:15. I'm not upset or anything, just very hurried and a bit flustered. Brian's getting home soon and I need to figure something out for dinner. We've got company coming this weekend and our fridge needs a bit of a cleanout - a lot of leftovers and produce that needs to be used up before this week's trip to the store.

So I figure - hey - we've got salad stuff. I've got leftover venison burgers. I've got a few potatoes. So between last-minute vacuuming, entertaining the kiddos, putting away the last of the laundry, and rehoming a bag full of the clutter I pulled from the car, I chop up potatoes and throw them into a pot to pre-boil for fried potatoes and hamburger. Kind of like breakfast for dinner, with salad on the side.

Well, Brian comes home and I'm just finishing up preboiling the potatoes. I greet him happily and tell him, "I hope it's okay that we're having some potatoes as part of our dinner! It's cleanout fridge day!"

He turns around and says, "This is why we can NOT have potatoes tonight!" He's laughing, but in the seat of his dress pants is a huge rip.

"Oh my gosh!" I exclaim. "When did that happen??"

"I don't know. Can you tell?"

"Yeah, kind of!"

I'm sure the rip had more to do with the quality of the pants (I'm looking at YOU, Joseph A. Bank) than with Brian's weight. The pants weren't tight on him at all. But I guess the timing of the rip was just bad, when he was already feeling like he'd put on a couple pounds after a long weekend of eating fattening food at Nana's house. He was walking in the door committed to "dieting hard" again, and here I was, making potatoes.

Let me back up, here.

All summer long I've had the following restrictions on my cooking:
1. No carbs. This means no potatoes (sweet or white), no pasta, no rice, no bread, no beans, no grains of any kind. We've been dieting, so I can't blame Brian entirely for this. Still, he's pretty strict about it, so even though I make carby side dishes for Will, I don't waste my time on any main courses Brian won't eat.
2. No meat besides venison. We've still got tons of elk and deer in the freezer, and Brian wants to use it up before we get more this fall.
3. No oven. It's summer, and the oven heats up the house.
4. No soups or stews. When the weather's cool, Brian's okay with soup or stew, but even then - it's hard finding low-carb soups/stews that work for the diet and that he likes. For example, if I made meat sauce and zucchini noodles (like paleo spaghetti), he wouldn't be too fired up.

Basically, Brian likes his plate to look like this:

SO what on earth do you make for dinner, Maegan?
Well, venison steaks. Venison burgers. And.... a few variations of those. I've tried mixing it up and getting creative, but - well, see above diagram.

And as of last week, we're now out of venison steak, so burger is all we have left. ("Burger" is the tough pieces that I can either grind up or cook whole in soups and stews.) What on earth do I fry up with that?

And then there's WILLIAM. He's not a super picky kid, but he's not the world's greatest eater. And he doesn't LOVE the dishes I've been making, though he's used to them and will eat them when forced encouraged.

And then there's me. I'm tired of the same thing every night.

Okay, so you're thinking, Maegan, at least you have food to eat. You don't have ebola, and you live in a free country. You have a wonderful family and a happy place to live and wonderful medical care and a church family and a husband who works hard, so you shouldn't  be complaining.

YES, you're right, but that didn't help me last night, which brings me back to my story.

So Brian tells me that the rip in his pants has put him back on his low-carb diet, pronto. So he does NOT want to eat potatoes.

And there comes the foul mood.

"What do you want to eat?" I ask him, my voice short.

"I don't know," he answers. "Meat and some broccoli."

Well, I tell him that I DON'T have any meat thawed and barely ANY broccoli and - oh, wait, here's some broccoli - now I feel dumb for saying we don't have any broccoli so I'm even more moody - and Brian's asking me if the leftover burgers are even still good anymore and when did we have them last? - and I'm tersely answering him that YES, they're still good, and frankly that's all we've got unless he wants scrambled eggs because I've been busting my butt all day to do the other stuff he wanted me to do and he's told me in the past that it's okay if dinner's last on the list because he's fine with scrounging if he needs to - and he tells me FINE, come on Will, let's go hang out somewhere else - and now I'm more moody than ever - and I'm banging around in the kitchen - I guess I'll mash these potatoes so that Will can eat them, even though lately he's decided he doesn't LIKE mashed potatoes so he's probably going to gag on them - and what do I do with these leftover burgers? - I'll scramble them up with some scrambled eggs on the side - oh, why am I even wasting my time, Brian's probably not going to like that - well I've got to throw something on the table - why even bother? they're both going to make that FACE and I'm so tired of wasting my time on stuff no one likes or even wants to eat - and dinner is such a drag because it's a pain to make it and a pain to force my kid to eat it and a pain to clean up and -

AND so on.

So by the time "dinner" is ready, fifteen minutes later, I very sweetly say-

(and you know the kind of "sweetly" I mean - the kind of tone that is sweet but makes you kind of sound like a psychopath)-

"I'm sure you guys won't like this food, and I'm sorry that's all there is, but here it is. But I won't be eating dinner with you tonight, because I just can't take seeing you both so unhappy, so I'm going to clean up the kitchen now."

So I didn't eat dinner with them. I went into the bedroom and nursed Barrett and after that I cleaned up the kitchen and tried to make conversation with Brian, who was force-feeding Will. And of course, Will was not enjoying his food. AS PER USUAL. That kid likes raw veggies, fruit, dairy products, bacon, ham, toast, and chips. And none of that was on the menu.

So at some point, after "dinner" is over, I halfheartedly apologize for my bad mood (to Brian: "Are you mad at me."), but the "dinner problem" still exists so, it's not out of my system. I'm still mad.

So I'm sitting alone at the table, and Brian and Will are watching some hunting show on his phone, and Will keeps telling him to "find tractor, Dada," and I'm feeding Barrett some baby food, and I don't feel like talking or singing happily like I normally do. So I decide to look at MY phone. And for some reason I decide to read the Our Daily Bread devotional that I got in my inbox.

(I unsubscribed to ODB a couple days ago, in an effort to clean up my inbox, but for some reason I still got the next couple days' worth.)

And THIS was the devotional:

Not Even a Nod
Randy Kilgore
September 2, 2014

Traffic was bad and everyone was cranky on that hot afternoon. I noticed a car with two young men waiting to enter traffic from a fast-food restaurant driveway. I thought it was nice when the driver ahead of me let them in.

But when the “nice” driver ahead of me didn’t get a nod or even a thank you wave, he turned ugly. First he rolled down his window and shouted at the driver he had let in. Then he gunned his engine and raced forward as if to ram into his car, honking and yelling as he continued to vent his anger.

Who was “more wrong”? Did the young driver’s ingratitude justify the “nice” driver’s angry response? Was he owed a thank you?

Certainly the 10 lepers Jesus healed owed gratitude to Him. How could only one return to say thank you? I’m struck by Jesus’ response: “Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:18). If the King of Kings can get only a 1 in 10 response of thanks, how can we expect more from others? Better to do our deeds to honor God and serve others than to do them to collect gratitude. May the grace of God be seen in us even when our kind acts go unappreciated.

Lord, we like to be recognized for the things we do. Help us to remember that we are not owed any recognition or thanks but that we owe You a lifetime of gratitude for the salvation You offer through Jesus. Let your light so shine before men, that they may . . . glorify your Father in heaven. —Matthew 5:16

EXACTLY what I needed to read. Tell me God doesn't speak to His children.

I'd like to say that my attitude immediately picked up, and that I exuded joy and gratitude as a result of a changed perspective. That didn't happen. I still didn't feel happy, because - HELLO, dinner still sucks. BUT what did happen was that I immediately apologized sincerely to Brian and Will. Brian forgave me; Will asked if I could find him a tractor on Dada's phone (since apparently Brian had not yet complied). I pulled it together, forced a smile onto my face, and eventually my moodiness went away on the inside.

We ended up having a nice evening as a family.

And THIS ended up being a very, very long post.

Until next time!

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