The Importance Of Family Traditions

Holiday Edition

The older I get the more important I think traditions are to the family unit.  I have vivid memories of varying traditions from my childhood.  As my kids get older I want them to feel a sense of comfort in traditions through the holiday seasons.  Whether it be baking cookies, picking out a yearly ornament, making gingerbread houses, putting up decorations, going to historic Main Street, picking out gifts for each other from the dollar store or anything else their hearts hold on to that makes them feel at ease in a busy world where the holidays can feel very lonely.

Dean and I are spending more time talking about the holiday seasons we had growing up, what we liked and what we hated.  Taking some of our memories and incorporating them into our own family.  We are also carrying on traditions that our children have had before we blended our families.  Then there are the new traditions!

As my generation advances (Xennial) it is becoming harder to connect to our children.  I have a lot of memories of doing things with my family that Daniel can’t imagine being forced to do.  As time goes on the memories can become softer.  Sometimes the rough edges become dull.  I remember laughter and happy voices.  I do not remember fighting with my brother so bad that my mom made me sit in the car (she does 😉).  Conversely I remember my mom and aunt fighting so bad that my mom made my aunt cry and dinner seemed to last forever.  I don’t remember getting a scooter and playing Nintendo with my cousins (my dad does). 

I think families need to compromise and take a step back from everyday life.  It is downright depressing knowing that we only get 18-ish Christmases with our kids as kids.  They are blobs the first couple of years and moody the last few! 

Whatever holidays you observe weather in October-November-December or somewhere else in the year, make them your own.  Take the time to discover what works for your family.  Over the next few weeks I will tell you about some of our traditions and why they work for our crazy family.

Celebrate the small things.

Celebrate each other.

Celebrate any reason you have to celebrate.

Buttered Noodles or Bust – SED

Potential Trigger Warning – this post is about selective food disorder (SED) and mentions other eating disorders by name. It is about my struggle with SED.

Wikipedia defines selective eating disorder (SED) as a type of eating disorder in which people have a lack of interest in food.  The avoidance may be based on appearance, smell, taste, texture, brand, presentation, or a past negative experience with food, to a point that may damage their health.

I have SED or Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID).  Selective eating disorder is underneath the ARFID umbrella. 

Until recently, I just knew I had a very bad relationship with food.  I did not know there was a name for it or that there were adults just like me.  As a child, families are quick to label it as picky eating, but it is more complex than that. 

My parents tried everything they could.  My mother made dinner and I had to eat what was in front of me or go hungry.  I went “hungry” most of the time.  I was taken to different pediatricians and nutritionists when I was young.  Each specialist said it would go away with peer pressure.  My mom waited anxiously for the age where I would be spending the night at friends’ houses and going to birthday parties.  Nothing changed.  I wouldn’t eat pizza or regular party food.  I would just have the chips and birthday cake. 

The specialists were also in agreement that I wouldn’t starve.  I didn’t have trouble with most of the cereals my mom allowed in the house (low to no sugar), I also eat pancakes, French toast, and hash browns.  Lunches before I was school age and after were normally a peanut butter sandwich, apple sauce, drink, and chips.  I ate all of those.  Dinner was a battle.  For whatever reasons this is what I eat – mac & cheese, ziti (only my mom’s no meat), buttered noodles, occasional hot dog, grilled cheese (my favorite), white rice, French fries, baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, white corn, corn on the cob, steamed broccoli, and my mom’s meatloaf.  That is really it.  My favorite thing in the world is grilled cheese and French fries.

My mom hated that I wouldn’t (really couldn’t) eat.  She felt like it was a reflection of her – no matter how many times she explained it to friends and extended family it always sounded like I was just picky. 

From HuffPost.com

Sometimes my mom would push me.  She wouldn’t let me leave the table until I had a bite of chicken.  This never went well.  I could wait her out awhile but she would get more and more angry with me.  Then she would force me to eat it – which absolutely always ended with a lot of gagging and eventually vomiting.  By this time she was furious and my father would have an upset stomach.  We all started to dread dinner. 

After years and years my mom just left me alone.  I would eat what I could at dinner, and she would try to include a side that I would eat.  As time went on, I came up with ways to avoid food when I wasn’t at home.  When I would be at a friends’ house, I would tell their parents that I ate before I came over or that I wasn’t hungry.  When I had to go out to eat and there wasn’t a grilled cheese on the kid or adult menu, I would order something with fries and then strategically cut and move the other food around on my plate when others weren’t paying attention.  My parents were fine with this because then I appeared normal and there wasn’t a fuss to be made or a lot of questions. 

As a teenager it didn’t affect me much, we would gather at Steak ‘n Shake which had a grilled cheese or the movies where I could eat my weight in popcorn.  I was always a scrawny kid – I am 5’5” but didn’t break 100 pounds until I was a senior in high school. 

In college my eating became more of an issue.  The dining hall had normal food but didn’t include anything I liked for dinner.  Socially things were becoming more awkward.  I couldn’t just get something at White Castle at 2 in the morning with everyone else.  Dating was horrible.  Starting in college dating became real dates where we got food and then went out to do something.  The guys I dated liked cuisines – Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese.  I couldn’t cut sushi into small bites and hide it around my plate.  Eventually I would admit to being a picky eater, but didn’t reveal the extent unless I had to.

Once friends and boyfriends caught on that there was more to my eating issues than being picky I would get questions for days.  It wasn’t uncommon to get a random text saying “Reeses?” to which I would reply, “no peanut butter and chocolate”.  Then if they were relentless and came back with “you eat chocolate and have peanut butter sandwiches” I would divulge a little more information by saying, “Only Skippy peanut butter and Pepperidge Farm bread.”  It became a bit of a game on trying to find something I could eat.  A game I didn’t like.

Most people have at least one typical food that they don’t like and that they can’t explain.  Like mustard on a hamburger is essential but mustard on a hot dog is completely disgusting.  My dad will eat all kinds of corn with spices and in dishes, but he cannot eat creamed corn.  I just happen to have a lot of those rules.

It has affected everything in my life.  I can’t just go to a work function, wedding, date, birthday dinner, family gathering, and I detest Thanksgiving.  I am lucky that I have had 3 great loves in my life and all of them eventually able to accept my SED along with my other quirks. 

It isn’t uncommon for adults with SED to eat the SAME exact foods that I eat.  Most feel the same way I do about grilled cheese. 

 Eating most foods isn’t a choice for me, it is impossible.  My mother says that I have always had trouble with food starting with the first baby food that had a texture other than puree.  I honestly feel that if someone was to offer me 100 million dollars if I ate a bite of anything not on my “list” I couldn’t do it.  I get anxious just thinking about it.  Here is an article that explains it far better than I ever could.

I mentioned that I was scrawny when I was young.  That didn’t last, eventually my metabolism and the fact that I was making my own “meals” caught up to me.  It is hard for me to lose weight not just because of the medications that I am on but because the only foods I eat are all carbohydrates.

Over the years my list of acceptable foods has shrunk.  My mom thinks it is related to frequency – if I was just so-so about something and then didn’t have it often, I rejected it.

I would do anything to be able to eat a salad, baked chicken, and scrambled eggs.

I do have a personal disclaimer.  Selective Eating Disorder is considered an eating disorder and is put in the same category as anorexia and bulimia.  But I am reluctant to agree.  I have had friends that have struggled with the main eating disorders and they can/could die.  It is a battle everyday like an addiction.  My friends that are in recovery from an ED have to consistently work at keeping their relationship with food healthy.  Selective eating disorder has nothing to do with self-image and little if any control.  It can cause you to be unhealthy but not in the same way anorexia does.  There hasn’t been much discovered for treatment.  Mostly if you can find a way to make a balanced meal and take a multivitamin you can be in good physical shape.  It can be monotonous and boring but it won’t hurt you. 

Research is finding that there might be a link between SED and OCD (that’s me!).  But until more is known I will be eating off the kids menu and socially anxious when an appetizer plate comes my way.

Linens That Do Not Spark Joy

I have read Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and I enjoyed her Netflix show “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo”.  But no matter how hard I try I cannot find any joy in assorted sheets and towels. 

If I had unlimited funds, I would try getting sheets and towels that may spark some sort of joy.  The sheets would feel like heaven and match – each set would have 4 pillowcases (we all love pillows).  The towels would coordinate with the different bathrooms’ color scheme.  They would feel soft and luxurious.  We wouldn’t race to get one of the 2 large bath sheets to keep for ourselves.  No one would get stuck with a Princess Sofia beach towel.

But in reality, I have to work with miscellaneous towels of various sizes and colors ranging from washcloth to bath sheet – including the almost extinct fingertip towel.  Some of my towels are okay in quality and some are down right awful.  My sheets are in a similar situation.  Several different sizes, many colors, not matching, pillow cases that I don’t even know where they are from.  I have a plethora of assorted beach towels.  There is a bin that I dump rejected bath products, samples, or extras. 

Over the years I have tried different methods to organize this space.  I have tried keeping like items together and conversely keeping linens together by room.  I just wasn’t able to maintain either method for long. 

I am probably asking too much from a closet.   

My goal is for my family to be able to get what they need out of the linen closet without making a mess. 

Before – there was a laundry basket full of clean towels right next to the closet. I did not squish them in just to take this picture. 😉

Ugh

In Process – I took everything out and refolded and sorted into groups.

I still do not know how to fold a fitted sheet!

Surprises – I have a lot of king size pillow cases… and neither my husband or I use that size pillow!

After  – absolutely nothing special with this reveal. I did not spend any money, I didn’t recreate the space. I mainly just straightened up the closet. Now if only I could get my family to keep it tidy.

Neat and Tidy

Jolly Family

Please ignore the fan!

Indoor Christmas decorations are up!  Dean and I talked about putting them up next weekend and we actually followed through – surprise!

I started to get cold feet on Friday because I saw a lot of Facebook jokes and shared posts about how wrong it is to decorate before Thanksgiving.  And I understand that I really do but for my family, this year, it made sense.  

Libby and Madison were into it, Dean meticulously spread out every branch on the tree, Daniel even left his room to hang up a few ornaments.  It was a happy time. 

Am I ashamed?  Yes, a little… when the pizza delivery guy came to the door and was greeted by a decorated tree, stocking, and misc other tchotchkes it was a little embarrassing.  When he was leaving and stated that he didn’t realize he missed Thanksgiving I was a little peeved. 

I stand by our choice though.  I want my kids to lead with kindness and to find happiness in simple things.  If putting up the tree a month early got the 5 of us together in one room laughing and talking I would have done it years ago. 

Where is your happy?

Not a creature was stirring…

Part of Me

Heart

I have anxiety and OCD (compulsive thoughts) and it is part of everything I do.  It doesn’t define me but it does help explain me.

It prevents me from socializing, being spur of the moment, and unfiltered.  It prevents me from having an abundance of energy.  It sometimes makes mundane tasks practically impossible. 

To others I can seem unpredictable.

I am alert to every change of mood in others. 

I lack confidence. 

I cancel plans a lot.

I am overwhelmed easily.  I can be triggered by load noises and scratchy sweaters. 

I am too sensitive.

But my mental illness has also contributed to some good traits. 

I am compassionate and always prepared. 

It makes me an inquisitive and fast thinker. 

I have plans, backup plans, alternate routes, extra everything.   

I love with my whole heart.

I have a good sense of humor – it is an essential survival skill.

I have great memory.

I have found it is easier to accept my diagnosis then pretend it isn’t there.  That doesn’t mean I don’t try to improve myself.  I accept that I have bad vision but I still wear corrective lenses.  I wear a seat belt even though I believe in a higher power. 

October Accountability

I did pretty well with my goals.  I started with 12 and I can honestly say I completed 9 of them.  I could say 10 but that wouldn’t be entirely true – its all about accountability

Taking a multivitamin can finally move to a list of habits to maintain.  I will check in with that habit to make sure I am still doing it but I won’t track it daily.  Madison has been in school for over 2 months and we have gotten in a groove after school with her homework .  I think that can be considered a habit instead of a goal. 

The three goals I did not make were –

  • Lose 5 pounds
  • Being halfway done with the blanket I am crocheting
  • Going to bed with the kitchen sink clean – this one I have made huge improvements in but I don’t think I completed it well enough to cross it off and I definitely am not ready to move it to a habit.

The losing 5 pounds is a problem – it is always a goal and it is rarely achieved.  To me this signals that my goal is too broad and it needs to be broken out smaller.  For November I am removing it for a goal and replacing it with a smaller goal that will help me work towards the 5 pounds.  Since we are entering the holiday season. I will make my goal to drink no more than 1 can of soda daily.  I usually have a 20 oz bottle first thing in the morning and if I go out to lunch I get a soda then as well.  I do not like being dependent on anything to function better.

November 1st – One can of soda a day – CHECK

I did stay within my budget!  I did make adjustments when I needed to but at the end of the month, my budget was balanced and my bills were all paid.  It will still remain a goal and I doubt it will ever fall into the habit category for me and that’s okay.

A big accomplishment was going through all my clothes.  I have bags of clothes to donate still in the back of my car – BUT they are out of my closet and drawers.  They are not mocking me when I feel like I have nothing to wear.  This was a difficult process.  I went through everything that did not fit no matter what the size was.  Then I bagged them up. That was a lot of stuff.  Then I looked at what did fit me and bagged the items that I knew I wouldn’t wear even if they fit.  I am generally not wasteful with clothing but sometimes I make bad decisions based on something being in my size.  Cute white pants that are in my size and nicely tailored – SCORE!  Then later – ugh white pants they are not practical for anything I do.  I could wear them to that one family Easter get together.  But it is generally outside when it is nice and patio furniture is never truly clean.  And sure they fit and are a style I like but on others   BUT I don’t think my rear end should be displayed in bright white fitted pants.  I did keep two pairs of jeans that didn’t fit – one that is a size too small and one a size too big, just in case.

I have a few Christmas related goals for November.  I have budgeted a lot of the gift buying for November since it is an extra paycheck month for me (I am paid every other Friday). 

I would like to start yoga.  I know it would benefit my physical and mental health.  For now I am not going to make any purchases towards this new endeavor.  If I am going to start I can start the basic asanas with out a mat, block, strap, special clothes, and cute coordinating water bottle.  It is more about focusing my energy, following through, and incorporating it into my routine.  If its not for me (right now) no harm done.

I included vacuuming 3 times a week as a November goal.  Now I wish I could take it back!  I hate vacuuming.  I don’t like getting the vacuum out, dealing with the cord, or emptying the canister.  But I have 3 dogs.  So vacuuming needs to be done more and not just when I can see the dog hair laying on the top of the carpet.  I will not tell you how often I do not vacuum. ☹

I also want to do something with Daniel this month.  We have a better relationship than some but I feel like he is too wrapped up in his room and video games – I would like to at least find something to offer to do with him if that makes sense.  If he says no – I understand but I want him to know that I tried.  Sometimes I wonder if Daniel feels left out at all.  It used to be just him and Dean, then Madison and I came along.  And with Libby and Madison being both girls and the same age and at fun age to boot.  We want him to hang out with us and just like a lot of teenagers he doesn’t want to but I hope he doesn’t want to because he is a teenager and not because he feels like he doesn’t belong.  Libby is his half-sister – I wish he would spend more time with her.

Looking at my goals I think they are pretty well rounded this month. I have a few items from each of my core categories.

  • Family
  • Health
  • Home
  • Finances
  • Self-care

And most should be achievable with effort.

I am excited to start a new month!

‘Tis The Extended Season

My husband and I are seriously considering putting up our indoor Christmas decorations this weekend.  It was totally Dean’s idea!  I think I am on board. 

I know it sounds crazy but hear me out.

Christmas decorations make me happy.  I would love to be able to enjoy the decorations for longer.  Also, if we start decorating early we can take our time – we don’t have to fling everything in place the weekend after Thanksgiving.  Plus Thanksgiving is as late as it can be this year. 

Speaking of Thanksgiving, it is essentially going to be a non-event this year.  Madison is going to Oklahoma with her dad, Daniel is going to Washington state to visit his mom, and Libby is always with her mom for the holiday.  It will just be Dean, the dogs, and me.  I try not to think about that.

Shouldn’t we all grab happiness when we can? 

A longer Christmas would help with the materialism surrounding the holiday as well.  The kids will see Christmas all around them but not have an immediate Santa delivery for quite some time. 

When I make them go through their toys (or stuff in Daniel’s case) to decide what to keep, donate, or pitch it will be under the glow of the Christmas lights. 

At this time I am not proposing to put up outside decorations.  I am not sure I am ready to be that merry yet but I don’t blame anyone if they are.

What makes you happy?