We went out to eat last night.

We went to Christo’s, here in Plymouth. We’d been once before and liked it well enough. Last night though, was not so great. It seems we feel this way just about every time we go out to eat, which is not often at all. We come home thinking that we could have cooked something better.

No, we don’t have delusions of grandeur about our cooking. But when you cook for yourself, you can choose the ingredients, the freshness, the quality, and you can cook at your own pace in a comfortable, clean place, uninstitutionalized. We think we’d rather buy something special, like ribs or fish, and cook it ourselves instead of going out next time.

Or maybe we just need to think of a dinner out mostly as a nice break from cooking and cleaning, and not expect it to be something fabulous.

Speaking of a break, the dining hall has that and other advantages, and some disadvantages.

We can eat there free any meal, as often as we want. There is decent salad, tapioca pudding, and the meals are usually decent-tasting. Most of the time we run into another family we know, so we get to socialize. It’s especially nice on days when Mark has dorm duty or has to work a football game (he does the scoreboard), so that we all get to spend a little time together even on those days.

On the other hand, it’s difficult to make healthy choices. Sometimes there really aren’t any healthy options, and other times the less healthy stuff is especially tempting. And it’s a big hall, which means loud, which means it’s hard to carry on conversations. And sometimes parking is a bit tough to find.

While we’re on the subject of disadvantages, teaching definitely has some.

It is wonderful to have a job that is meaningful, that you care about, and that you’re pretty good at. And this particular school is great in a lot of ways.

But it’s very hard to manage your time when you’re a teacher. Stuff has to be graded, planned, prepared, collected, and so on. You can’t cut corners — you don’t want to. You can’t procrastinate or you fall behind. So you get extra stress and late nights, even on weekends, catching up on school work after a few hours spent with your daughter — because you can’t and don’t want to cheat your family OR your students. (Guess what Mark’s doing right now?)

Weekends, eh? That means church.

We’re still iffy on church. Grace Reformed is more like us in doctrine and in demeanor. But it’s far away, and we don’t see the need / feel the desire for a second service or a potluck *every* week, and — it’s far away. We will visit the Evangelical Free again tomorrow, even though we are a little wary about the culture there. (Is it too superficial, too surface-y, too many Christian bookstore stickers-y?)

I got stuck this morning.

With a needle. This is health screening weekend for our insurance. My blood pressure is good. I didn’t have any issues with having blood drawn. My body fat percentage is supposedly 32.8, which is a-couple-points-off-the-chart poor. According to that chart I’m obese.

And yeesh I hate health insurance and all the pigeon-holing and the prying. If I’d been limited to insurance coverage during PPD, I would have been shuffled in and out of therapy as quick as can be, with a fix-it focus that leaves no room for individuality or understanding. (I’m so thankful we were able to pay for Joe.) I hate the self-righteousness oozing out of the survey questions poking at me about my exercise and eating habits. Because unless I do exactly as everyone is supposed to do (hello, cookie-cutter world), I am to be condemned. Nutrition and activity are very complicated things, not all that amenable to a few multiple-choice questions.

Yes, I know, I do not get enough exercise. But I hate the thought of exercise for its own sake — it should be part of regular life. I guess there’s just not enough in my regular life that works my body sufficiently; you’d think carrying around almost twenty pounds of squirmy kid would help.

Speaking of sufficient, that’s about enough for now.


10 thoughts on “Transitions

  1. First, I didn’t do the Foreigners writing because it was too painful. I couldn’t sort through it to put it on paper. It’s been stuffed down and filed away for sooo very long! It’ll take LOTS of time to sort it out.

    I loved this peak into your new life! The church thing~ugh. It’s very, very hard. I could relate to everything you shared all too well! (((((HUGS))))) sandi

  2. I relate to your ideas about going out to eat. We received a gift certificate for $125 to a very fancy restaurant – it took us over a year to use it and then it expired and I had to call and ask if we could have the expiration date extended. Thankfully they said yes, and we went last weekend. It was nice, but not amazing. And afterwards we both agreed that it takes a long time to earn $125 and we were very glad it wasn’t OUR hard earned money that was spent on that meal. We’d rather buy our own ingredients and cook at home, too.
    BUT with a small child, it does get challenging to plan/make/execute dinners 7 nights/week. One suggestion is to look at their menu (they probably have one for the week or month posted somewhere) and pick the meals you find most appealing and then make those your ‘nights out.’ That way you get a break from cooking/cleaning and you get the meal you enjoy most from the selection offered, and if you only go occasionally, the crowds/noise/parking won’t bother you too much. I bet Amy will like all the activity to look at, as well.
    It is a nice benefit to have, for once in a while, I think!

  3. Oh Sandi, I know. You know, I find paper a great way to start sorting things out — it’s one of those things you learn as an English teacher: you don’t know what you’re trying to say until you’ve finished the first draft. Maybe you could get a journal especially for working through the stuff about your mom, and write bits and pieces as the time and inclination hits.

    As for demand / scheduling, attachment / whatever the opposite is, we’ve done the combination that seems to fit all three of us best, and, like you said, I wouldn’t expect any other family to do the exact same things.

  4. We can definitely relate to your go out to eat problem. Since we get our food from a local CSA, another local farmer who sells us meat and eggs, and the rest from Greenlife Grocery (which carries lots of healthy and locally-grown no-pesticide, no-steroid, stuff), and our homemade meals are very tasty and, we know, not filled with all sorts of artificial chemical junk, many times when we go out to eat end up like yours – we could have had better in all ways at home. But since we do eat better at home for most meals, we had to come to the point of knowing we would eat out:

    1. If the shcedule necessitated it
    2. If we (or just one of us) needed to get out of the house
    3. If we had no food in the house

    There may be some restaurants near us that serve good quality (read non-agribusiness corporate) food, and we’re seeking them out, but so far, either they have been very expensive for what you get (even if it is good quality), or the food just isn’t very tasty.

    Good luck with it on your end.

    I know I could never be a school teacher.

    A good church is hard to find. May God guide you and give you wisdom concerning a church to attend.

    And may you find some functional, real-life-related exercise soon. I don’t like walking or running just to do it to get exercise, either. I’d rather park further from the store to walk more to get to it, or something. Where we’ve moved, we can get to many things by walking or riding our bikes. I need to do that more. I do, however, do some exercises that help me loosen up my back muscles. One thing that makes it different for me to do these is knowing that it makes all the difference in the world to my back, and whether or not it hurts. As long as I do the exercises, I do well. Good incentive.

  5. Marcy,
    Marcy I have eaten at your house, and the problem is that you are too good of a cook!!!! Speaking as someone who is something short of lousy in culinary skills, I would much rather eat out, or at least bring in “pre-fab” 7 days a week. When I shop, I do so buying the healthiest pre-fab that I can, and that’s it. If you enjoy cooking, time in the kitchen is grand. But if you make it, and it is nothing but edible-in other words, doesn’t really taste good… I hate the stress and expense of Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving meals. It costs so much less to eat out when you have no basic ingredients to cook a meal, not to mention that holidays are supposed to be joyful, and there isn’t anything joyful about 9 hours in a kitchen, hoping someone will eat, and worse yet, knowing yourself, that it really isn’t any good. Just for the record, I could rant and rave about this topic, but I doubt anyone is interested. I will add however, that one of the award winning items I can cook, is a German Chocolate style cheesecake. And, Oh Joy, this Thursday is Dana’s 16th birthday, and she wants Williard Scotts Favorite Red Velvet Cake. I have received specific instructions that if I buy a red velvet cake mix, it is not acceptable. (Of course, Dana can cook.)

    As to writing about foreigners, would you like to try a different topic? If it’s something I can write on, I would love to. Horrific cooking stories or related topics come to mind: How many fire extinguishers do you keep in your kitchen to put out cooking fires…How many times have you given your husband Salmonella poisoning feeding him spoiled chicken…Is it really possible to explode boiling potatoes on the stove top…Does sausage left cooking on high while you take a shower set your parents kitchen on fire…Do stoves really die the night your husbands commanding officer joins you for Easter dinner in a foreign land… I can adequately address those queries. I hope no one else out there can. I’m done….If anyone out there wants my fail-safe, NO COOK chili meal that I actually get compliments on, or my award winning cheesecake, let me know.

    My love to Amy…remember, she only had bottles from me, no real food….

  6. Rick,

    We can’t go as far as you do to buy healthy food, but maybe someday. Meanwhile we do the best we can at the regular (only) grocery. Hope you find the good restaurants out there!


    You could get your Red Velvet cake at a bakery, or even a wedding cake baker — they might be willing to make one small enough for you. Personally, I don’t see the appeal of painting a food — if it was some (significant) ingredient that made it red, fine, but otherwise, nah.

    Yikes on your cooking stories! The foreigners topic was just one I was curious to see what other people might have to say about… I don’t have any other curiosities at the moment but perhaps I’ll try again some other time.

    I think those big holiday meals are awful if one person is responsible for everything. But they can be fun if the kitchen is a gathering place and everyone pitches in on something.

  7. Yeah, I was just saying we understand your predicament in finding a place to go out to eat. 😉 It is a good “problem” to have, though – that the food at home is so good you have a hard time finding somewhere else that’s as good. Not everyone has that “problem”.

  8. y’all are killing me with the food thing. Let me tell ya, its a problem when you know you can cook because that means you can just walk into the kitchen, whip a cake together and have it in no time flat. Do you know my pain? No, no you don’t. Right now if I wanted I could go out in the kitchen and make a number of pastries from scratch. It hurts okay….it hurts my figure. My waste line has suffered so. Brownies, cakes, pies, fresh rolls, anything but cookies I can make. Oh the pain…make the rich, homemade pain stop.

    I went to Culinary School and that’s a burden I’ll have to carry with me for the rest of my life. That means most sauces are possible, most soups, baked goods and everything else in between (save cookies). I have suffered so. Do you know how many calories are in homemade Hollandaise sauce compared to store bought? Do you?

    My cookies are so bad that baking them has been considered an act of terrorism. Homeland Security has asked me to stop baking cookies. My freedom depends on it. It’s that bad I tell ya, really bad.


  9. I wouldn’t say the food at home is really all that great. Come on, sometimes I make mac and cheese from a box and cook hamburger with garlic powder (what! not real garlic!) and things like that. I’m not a gourmet like Ms. Austin here.

    And oh yes, Austin, anytime you want to invite me over for dinner and dessert, you just go ahead. Good thing you don’t live close enough for me to do that!

    Since I started various steps toward healthier eating, it’s the baked goods that especially get to me. I simply cannot make anything with sugar, and I can only make something with white flour if it has an equal or greater share of oats or whole wheat flour. My (very occasional) apple and pumpkin pies are very good for this change, but I haven’t made cookies in ages and can hardly stand the thought of making a cake.

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