I Cannot Decide (But It’s Not My Fault)

My husband is a very patient man. Clearly, he would have to be to put with me and all my nonsense (AKA Julia’s Math)! But, I cannot take all the blame (credit?) for my behaviors, especially when it comes to decision making. My family- mainly my mother- has several bad habits when it comes to making a decision.  It doesn’t matter the size of the decision, as all decisions are treated with the same Level 10 severity. This makes Thomas, my usually patient and level headed husband, throw an Emma-style temper tantrum.

decision dice I Cannot Decide (But Its Not My Fault)

Agh! The Pressure!

I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that most families probably do not approach decision making the same way as mine does… I would guess that when a family decision needs to be reached in other people’s houses, the family gathers and has one conversation. During said conversation, they evaluate known facts, discuss possible outcomes, and reach a decision. Sometimes, someone might even make their opinion known, although most of the time this is implied within the context of the conversation and not overly proclaimed. This process usually takes all of five minutes and is done in less than ten sentences.

decision making I Cannot Decide (But Its Not My Fault)

The Normal Decision Making Process (Ironically enough this graphic is called the “Pilot’s Decision Process”!

This is how my husband’s family works.  It seems to work well… No one gets upset and things actually get done as a direct result of the decision making process.

My family, however, does not roll like that.  My family cannot even fathom this process.  Truth be told, I have been “in” Thomas’ family for almost ten years and it still amazes me… I remember walking away from his family’s discussion thinking, it can’t be this easy! Surely that was just a warm up round, or something.  It seemed impossible to me that a decision that everyone was relatively happy with could be reached so quickly and calmly!

family I Cannot Decide (But Its Not My Fault)

My family has taken the art of Non-Decision Making to new levels. Non-decision making does not imply that we do not want to reach a decision; it means that we are going to make it as difficult as possible to reach one. While similar to procrastination, it is in fact different. According to Wikipedia, in psychology, procrastination refers to the act of replacing high-priority actions with tasks of lower priority, or doing something from which one derives enjoyment, and thus putting off important tasks to a later time. Non-decision making is based on wanting to be gracious, putting others’ needs in front of one’s own.

zen I Cannot Decide (But Its Not My Fault)

In the interest of saving your sanity, I will give you some time to let this process sink in.  To me, it seems perfectly normal. Admitedly, not the quickest; but at least normal.  I have been told that to ‘normal” people (like my husband, or my father forty years ago) that is not the case. Next, I will outline a typical conversation in the art of non decision making…

Aunt Judye Cake, AKA The Best Birthday EVER

My favorite meal is cake and champagne. (Marie Antoinette might have been on to something.) More specifically, Birthday Cake and champagne.  Birthday Cake is one of those universally uniting foods, like ice cream (outside of a lactose issue, if you don’t like ice cream I suspect you are a Communist) and Chardonnay (especially at family holidays). At birthday parties, the cake is the most exciting part, especially if the crowd is under five (having attended three birthday parties this weekend, I am well versed on this).  Even those who refuse a piece of cake inevitably sneak a bite or two.  I can’t think of another food that will send one into diabetic shock as quickly as the marriage of empty, sweet carbs (cake) and sugar glue (frosting). This, of course, is a main part of the appeal of birthday cake.

mail Aunt Judye Cake, AKA The Best Birthday EVER

At some point during our dating days (I remember those days—words like spontaneous, sleeping in, out to dinner, and well rested come to mind), I attended a birthday party for a relative of my husband.  The birthday cake BLEW MY MIND.  This cake reminded me of birthday cakes that were served at my birthday parties growing up. I have found that memories can grow better with time, sometimes becoming even better than the actual event.  This birthday cake lived up to the hype of long remembered cake from my youth. As this was early in our relationship, I drew upon my inner reserves of dignity, decorum, and cotillion manners so as to not cram that cake into my mouth as fast as possible and go back for seconds, thirds, and even fourths. It was difficult, and I give all the credit entirely to my mother. Try as I might, I could not get this cake out of my mind.  I worked up my courage, and I approached his mother to inquire about the recipe.  While she was thrilled I liked it, she said it was Aunt Judye’s recipe and she did not have access to that information. I eventually had to marry into the family to get the recipe (and you were so worth it, honey!). Aunt Judye even made a wedding cake for us using her top secret recipe.

 

alena cake Aunt Judye Cake, AKA The Best Birthday EVERArmed with the recipe, I set out to make new converts.  It wasn’t hard.  My girlfriends and I have a tradition of celebrating birthdays by having “lunch” at ridiculously cute and trendy girly cafes.  Every birthday girl got a birthday cake.  One of my best friends, who is a birthday cake connoisseur (if such thing exists. Outside of the under-five set at birthday parties, I have never seen anyone get so excited. It’s awesome!) She has declared mine “almost as good as Aunt Judye’s!” Naturally, every family birthday party we have, I make sure to cut a piece for Alena and stick it in the freezer. Last time my father came to visit, he saw the “Alena Stash” and demanded to get in on the action. (Daddy and Alena: please come visit. My freezer is full!)

 

Mike Bday Aunt Judye Cake, AKA The Best Birthday EVERWhile I have gotten the cake part down, I struggle with the frosting. (Frosting goes on cakes. Icing is a glaze.)  OF COURSE Aunt Judye is amazing at frosting.  Roses? Amateur Hour. Fancy script? Of course.  Multiple tiers with fancy pants decorations on the side? She’s got that. I, however, am the proud creator of the World’s Ugliest Cakes.  Even sprinkles, sparkles, and multiple attempts at script in multiple colors cannot distract from the leaning, frosting-mixed-with-crumbles, and uneven cakes I produce. Thank Goodness they live up to the taste, even the honor, of the title “Aunt Judye Birthday Cake”.

Emma candles aunt judye Aunt Judye Cake, AKA The Best Birthday EVER

Green Beans- Its what’s for dinner

 I recently outed myself—that I am in fact willing to lie to my kid. It turns out I am also totally OK with tomfoolery…. Steamed green beans are one my favorite things to eat. Not super exciting, but less fattening and more socially acceptable on the job than some of my other favorites, namely Chardonnay (as I have a company car, Chardonnay consumption is generally frowned upon during working hours). Also, quit hating.  I grew up in the Midwest, the daughter of parents from the East Coast, where vegetables taste like vegetables… What a surprise I had in store for me when I moved to the South (or God’s Country as my Georgia-born and raised husband claims)…. I knew I wasn’t in Kansas (Missouri) anymore when I attended my first F (for our last name, not anything else!) family Holiday Gathering (my in-laws have ‘gatherings’, my parents have ‘parties’. Guess who is better behaved?!) I did not recognize any of the dishes on the table, except maybe for the rolls.  Not one thing.  (I won’t go into detail here but just know that apparently it is acceptable for gravy to have HARD BOILED EGGS IN IT).  I made my way down the food table, with my then-boyfriend-now-husband whispering descriptions of what each dish was.  This system worked until we got to the green beans. Or should I say grey beans.  These beans were so cooked that the green had been cooked off of them.  Also? They were flavored with MEAT! I ask you—what is the point of eating a vegetable if it tastes like meat? If you want meat, eat meat. If you want a vegetable, eat a vegetable! Unbeknownst to me, cooking green (grey) beans like that is standard. Order green (grey) beans at any Southern style restaurant and that is what you get.  When we have my in-laws over for dinner, I call my Mother-In-Law at least a week in advance and let her know that I have started to cook her green (grey) beans.  (To be fair, they are just as horrified at my version of green beans as I am with theirs.  The crunchiness is not really a selling point to them. The first time I served green beans Julia Style, she very politely pulled me aside and expressed some concern that the green beans hadn’t been cooked enough.)
Since I love green beans. I had high hopes my 2 year-old daughter would embrace the correct way to eat a green bean (crunchy, with a little salt and garlic).   Out of the gate, things went well. She loved it when we mixed pureed green beans in her baby cereal. (Baby cereal, it turns out, is its own food, and not super soggy rice crispies as I had suspected.  Yes, I thought that is what everyone was talking about when they referenced baby cereal. One day, I asked another mother for clarification on this ‘baby cereal’, explaining that I thought it meant super super soggy grown up cereal.  Care to guess whom I asked?  My boss. That was super comfortable, let me tell you!) Back to Emma and the pureed green beans- she gobbled them up! As she moved to table food, I just knew she would love them as much as Mommy does… As it happened…not so much.  If by ‘liking’ something, one pitches a fit complete with Broadway style theatrics and emotions, then Emma LOVED THEM. So she wasn’t really digging Mommy’s favorite. (I would have settled for “Southern” green (grey) beans at that point).  One night, I was desperate. It was becoming a Battle of The Wills (anyone who knows me knows I am COMPETITIVE), so clearly I wasn’t going to lose this battle.  I thought long and hard, and then I enlisted that secret weapon that Mommies have in their arsenal—SUGAR. Yes, I did. I rolled those damn green beans in sugar and SHE ATE THEM AS FAST AS SHE COULD CRAM THEM IN. AND THEN LICKED THE PLATE. My husband was out of town, and at first didn’t believe me when I triumphantly relayed the news of my victory.  (I did come clean. He was impressed with my resourcefulness!)