Tag Archives: weight gain

First World Problems and Maintaining Friendships

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Because it's all about Bella.

Because it’s all about Bella.

I really wish this was another one of those lovely letters mummy bloggers are fond of (and I’m quite partial to as well of course). You know the ones that start with Dear Bella and continue on to talk about how our little ones are the loves of our lives. Well before reading on, lets just assume that I heartbreakingly adore my child. And while we’re at it, lets also acknowledge that I’m about to go on a First World Problem rant and that I, nor my child is ill, we have food in the cupboard and small change in a porcelain pig on the night stand, placing us in the most blessed percentile on this known earth.

However……

I’ve been in the midst of a crisis of personal circumstance for a few weeks and I don’t think “the grass is always greener” argument is going to snap me out of it. It’s actually fair to say that after I physically recovered from having Bella, I’ve pretty much been stuck in a period of adjustment ever since. I have written about this before as I have tried to desperately explain to my friends how confusing it feels to love a child that well, sometimes you simply want to palm off for a night so you can go and pretend you still know what it feels like to be totally unencumbered from the weight of responsibility you were so totally unprepared for.

I know this sounds simple and I can hear a chorus of parents that have gone before me chanting, “suck it up, you can get back on the turps in a few years” but I feel like there are a few more layers on this.

You see, quite a few of my young silly years have been consumed with illness that you could say left me rather antisocial. Unfortunately, during a few of the years I really should have been spending my pay check on frivolous weekend drives to the beach, my then boyfriend (now husband) and I were worrying about my health. Yes, there were some great years but the time after we got married was devastating. I alienated myself from all of my friends, I gained over 35 kilos and most of our romantic encounters were spent playing cards on my bed in a psychiatric hospital. Even when I was well, it was always mostly the two of us.

I recovered from this as the lucky ones do and the past few years have been lovely. As soon as I lost the majority of the weight I gained and I finished the study which served to rehabilitate me into normal routines, I was pregnant with Bella.

Which was my choice.

Which was my blessing.

Which was my life long dream.

I just had never conceived that I would feel like I lost a part of my life and for some reason, it has started rearing its ugly head now. It could be because I am smaller or it could be because you want what you can’t have but I have other suspicions.

During those years, I lost a lot of friends. My fault. My disease. But having Bella gave me the real push to rekindle these friendships with girlfriends lost and it’s been great. Unfortunately for us, we have sort of missed each other in life timings. They don’t have kids. I do.

In the beginning I think I was kind of cool about it and really tried not to talk about Bella and asked about their dates or their boyfriends or their work but eventually I’m required to talk about myself and my contributions have become increasingly desperate as I try to convey the monumental change that occurred in our house, our relationship, our whole existence when we had Bella. Inevitably, I end up saying things like, “I need to go because if Belle falls asleep here, she wont nap later and I’ll be up all night which wont work cos’ we have music class in the morning”. And then I get in the car and I literally want to drive off a cliff because I AM THAT MOTHER.

Lately though, I’ve had a few conversations with some friends and people that frankly, I don’t even know that have left me retreating. Let me just say that I have NEVER said to anyone that is childless “you say that now but just wait till you have kids”. See, I know how patronising that is. How that makes you feel small. But I tell you what makes me feel small. Comments like,

“You really should just continue on living your life and take Bella with you”, or

“You need better role models to look up to that just take their kids everywhere”, or my favourite,

“You really need more couple time…to really connect”. Deep breath.

You know what peeps, please don’t even say “date night” around me. And I don’t really want to take my 15 month old out to a beautiful restaurant mid week. You know why? It’s got nothing to do with her, she’ll love it. She’ll throw food around, sleep all the way home and then party all night. But it will be a FRIGGIN NIGHTMARE for moi. And before you be helpful and suggest some “alone time”, now that our lifestyle has changed and the Toolman works rather gastly hours, I can’t really leave her at home during the week with him at all. I love that we live in a society where I can strap her to my back and bring her everywhere. I love that my friends think she’s really cute and never seems like trouble. I love that they love her.

And she’s not trouble and she’s not a burden. She’s just a child and as much as she is my everything, I’m not sure in hindsight that I had enough time to enjoy not being a sick person.  So I’m stuck in this limbo land where I need to get over what I feel I missed out on.

Most of all the point is that I have friends that for whatever reason like me and keep inviting me back and they’re the real friends you don’t often find that you can talk about horrible boils in horrible places with and not be the least bit embarrassed. I’m really lucky they’re there but unlucky they’re not there…you know, that place where you drive to each other’s house in your most glamorous track suit mid morning with a few kids in tow.

All in all, this isn’t about them, or Bella, or the Toolman. It might even be because I’m happy and in a good place I’m looking back over some of the years gone and thinking that sucked. It could even be that I have a child of my own now, I’m thinking more about myself when I was younger. That I could have been doing things that may have prepared me better for this time. Stories that I would have kept hidden from Bella; her mothers larrikin antics.

As I said, I wish I could have explained this in a loving letter but for whatever reason, I write it here instead for you all (mainly my mum lets be honest). One day she’ll understand how I struggled with early motherhood because I didn’t get drunk and silly enough in my early years.

And I’m guaranteeing that because I’ve been entrusted to raise her, that’ll make perfect sense….

The Break Up

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This year, once again I found myself beach bound with too much luggage and an incapacity to resolve in my mind the fact that I had not achieved what I set out for myself at the start of the year: to never go through a fat summer again. Imagine an overweight woman, sitting by the window, watching her family and friends outside in the Australian sun. Now watch her look down at herself, her stomach, and then back outside. She turns side on to look at her reflection in the mirror, checking no one is coming, then back outside. Looking square on in the mirror, she fluffs up her curls a little. “Right, you did this, so off you go”.

Every slim young thing that walked passed my camping site and it must be said, all those sitting at my very own table only highlighted to me how much I was still a physical disappointment, and my preoccupation with it only highlighted to me I’m a mental lightweight. I was unable to put aside the feelings of inadequacy and enjoy myself, falling further and further into a rather low state.

I must admit that for the past few months, and possibly a contributing factor accounting for my blog silence, I felt a creeping feeling of failure sneak up on me. There’s been something in the background, something I just couldn’t quite see clearly, shaking its finger at me and daring me to respond. Silencing that little voice inside*, I’ve tried to move quickly into action, keeping as busy as possible to avoid inviting over the black dog to bark at my backdoor.

As someone very talented in the art of emotional diversion, I convinced myself that the problem lay within the domain of my marriage. Namely, that I have never done anything to make my husband proud of me and therefore respect me. Such was my delusion, when watching a Grand Slam hosted in my home town, I actually wondered whether I could transform myself into a tennis-superstar-come-lately simply to impress the toolman.

Feminists put the gun down, you don’t want to waste that one bullet just yet.

On arriving home from my camping trip, I successfully humoured my gloomy disposition and opened and closed every cupboard in the house until I found a card I received from my family ten years ago before I left for Italy on a year long study trip. Along with the “Ciao Bellas” and the “Good Lucks” were more than a few messages that indicated that “the Italian boys will just love you” and one message from my mother’s dear friend that actually said, “Good Luck Darling. They’re going to love your shape”. My shape? Tucked inside the card was a photo taken of me before I left. I stared at it for a long time, wiping the tears from my eyes.

That was who was in the back of my mind. The old me, holding me hostage and incapacitating the me that lives in 2011. For the past two years, I’ve been holding up a ten year old image of myself as the picture perfect unattainable range of who I should be. And in every corner of my house was a relic that told the narrative of my disappointment and my endless consumption to compensate.

The next day, I called, booked and paid for a commercial skip to be delivered to my house. For the past week I have emptied, cleaned and purged all the things that have been terrorising me. I walked up and down the incline of my drive, sweating and puffing. After watching me all week, the two men who live next door (and who I might add have not spoken to me in five years) caught me, cottage cheese bum in the air, fishing out a pair of tiny olive pants during a bout of post-throw-dissonance.

“Are you moving?” they yelled.

My sweaty, frizz haloed head popped out from the depths of the bin. “Huh? Oh, no. I’m a Buddhist now. I don’t need stuff”. Ok, yes. I admit I’m odd but seeing as I’m quite partial to oversharing, it was the easiest way to escape unscathed.

When the skip drove off on the back of a truck, I thought my work was done. But as I watched it turn the corner, I realised I was broken, that I’m not who I was born to be. So I sat down (and here’s the bit where you’ll have to reserve judgement about my sanity) and had a little talk with myself. The me I’m supposed to be has the innocence of a child, without fancy things and shiny hair, nor is she a heavily committed working woman (you want that bullet now?). She’s a fit mother, able to live her life. Able to jump in a river without hiding anything, run a little without collapsing and sit with her family without shame. And you know what else; I really don’t need any stuff to get that.

It was time to Break Up with myself!

So I did what any good woman does after a break up; I cleaned my fingers red raw. Up on ladders, down on knees, climbing on top of baths, toilets and sinks. And each day as I’ve said goodbye to another little piece of me, I’ve put less and less into my body to quieten that doubting voice. No doubt we’ll have conversations in the future, discuss some misery over some bread and cheese, but I don’t think we’ll fight.

Perhaps I’m a getting just a little bit too abstract on you here? I did a spot of cleaning, so what? A better illustration of my state of mind may be in the response I gave to a cleaning shop owner a few days ago. On my third visit during a single week his curiosity finally got the better of him and he asked,

“Let me guess. You’re a caterer? A chef? A cleaner?”

I paused ever so slightly and then responded, “Umm, I’m not too sure. I think I’m a nurse”. And with that I left, realising that I had spoken the truth; that I’m not sure where I’m going or who I’ll be at the end of this year. It could all go wrong, or bad, or right. And perhaps I am not of sound mind right now…

But give a girl a break, I have been through a break up after all.

* Note: There is no actual foreign voice inside my head. Call off the Doc’s Ma.

Knee Jerk Reaction

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I’m yet to meet an adult that doesn’t cringe with the memories of their adolescence, regardless of how enlightened their parents were in dealing with their intrapsychic conflict (yes, I’ve obviously thought about this before). I was a rather gregarious teenager when it suited me but I also I suffered from what seems to be the unavoidable feelings of inadequacy that tend to go hand in hand with the period.

I maintain fiercely that adolescence is the most horrific time in ones life, only to be remembered fondly in later years with sentimental notions of skinny dipping in creeks and innocent kisses behind sheds. In reality, what we tend to forget is the girl in the year above yelling “Mooooooo!” and we disrobe and the boy of our dreams coaxing us behind the shed to laugh an “In Your Dreams!” in our face. But don’t pull out the tissue box on my behalf, scrape back the layers a little and I assure you, they’ll be something there for you too. Or better yet, just ask a sibling – they’re programmed to remember your most embarrassing moments!

So it was all this that came flooding back to me, in an unpredictable way when I was at the gym today. Having joined for the sheer fact that I would be amongst fellow “granny-knicker” wearers, I was shocked when faced with a demographic I had not accounted for when joining…the private schoolgirl!

Having not yet successfully evolved into true womanhood, I don’t find myself always able to look on with enough distance for these girls not to bother me. Instead of looking on with a “gee, I’m glad that’s over” sentiment, I found myself today wanting to hide inside the machine I was at that time straddling.

For some reason I haven’t yet understood, I perceive the fake tans, long nails and perfectly tinted hair as a personal attack. Perhaps I’m waiting for them to pull my school dress up as I bend over to fix my shoe.

I should at this time clarify that I wasn’t a bullied schoolgirl, and shamefully probably straddled the line of the bully myself. And maybe that’s why I’m afraid of girls, because I know that if I was capable of producing a “hey you” instead of addressing someone by their name, perhaps someone with a more compromised constitution could do worse to me now.

Perhaps all this is why I hurt my back today. Within three minutes, I let a 14 years old resembling a Whippet coax me into a rather enthusiastic knee-kick-with-hip-twist scenario, fuelled by the beat of Mamma Mia playing loudly from the speakers.

As the Mamma’s and the Mia’s blared out at a steady pace, the increased panting on the station across the room, propelled me into a double beat of kicking and twisting which I’m sure resembled a chubby woman trying to simultaneously stuff herself into a too-tight pair of jeans with matching turtleneck.

I’ve been on the couch, albeit laptop on lap, since my completely one sided showdown, wondering once more how on earth I got myself into this situation. You know, the one where I have all this blubber on rather important womanly bits that just won’t seem to go. Perhaps I should just end it all, throw in the bucket and declare myself “curvaceous, womanly, with more to hang onto”. Hmmmm…

Either way, perhaps a mixed and testosterone fuelled work out environment might have been a better choice. At least then, I wouldn’t hurt myself trying to compete.

Just As It Is

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“Must write blog, must write blog” has been in the back of my mind since I returned.  Unfortunately, I’ve been must-ing my way around my home town, straight back into the groove of daily life, hanging hopelessly onto the memories of a trip now passed.

There are a few minefields one faces upon return from a holiday when re-telling their holiday adventures. Unfortunately, there is always the danger of painstakingly recounting what is to others, an utterly boring he-said she-said; there’s a risk of going on far too long about the meal you just didn’t want to miss, and of course, it’s easy to forget that those nodding appreciatively have most likely been scraping baked beans from a can while you were stuffing your face with crayfish, taking happy-snaps.

A few days ago someone asked me to see photos. I directed them to Facebook in their own time but they pressed me for a personal viewing. Filled with trepidation, I obliged. But 15 photos in, one party had walked off; the other yawned awkwardly, declared they had to go and then left the house completely. When I found myself starting a sentence of explanation and then realised that by the end of the sentence, there was no one left to make eye contact with, I knew it was over.

“See! See! This is why I didn’t want to do it”. Other people’s photos are always best viewed in private. Mainly so you can flick through the scenic shots that have no context for you, but also to reduce the awkward dilemma of trying to wind up the conversation before a yawn creeps into the back of your throat.

Most important of all, how does one having travelled to a country like Africa not reconstruct moments, people and conversations with just a touch of the clichéd? Descriptions of wildlife, mountain ranges and canyons can’t really be made without using words like majestic and splendour, both of which make my eyes water with embarrassment, so I tend to not say much at all.

The most special of moments I had were not because of the scenery or cities. They were with people I met and the conversations I had with them, resulting in a shared experience that couldn’t be easily translated. And sometimes, if you are open to it, special things can happen that you don’t want to share anyway.

Perhaps my experiences over the past few years, in a strange way, prepared me well for the trip. If you open your eyes, but close your heart just a little bit, you’ll be well equipped to see everything there is to see. And it has to be said (simply because it’s true), magical (oops!) things can happen there.

Luckily for me, my moment of fat-girl emancipation in the form of riding an African ostrich, just as my grandmother did many years ago, never occurred. I was just that bit too heavy, which means I just might have to go back some time soon!

Holidays have a sneaky way of making people see the light. ‘When I get home, some things are going to change’ is a sentiment we’ve all experienced. It’s a diet, more exercise, more time for reading, leisurely weekends…always something.

But if I learnt nothing else, I learnt to think less, smile more and yes, it has to be said, realise that even though I may choose to, changes aren’t necessary.

I’m a lucky little bugger, just as it is…

Case of the Lost Bowl

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There’s a television show currently screening on Australian television which has, as the critics say, “taken the country by storm”. Masterchef Australia fits the formula replicated around the world; contestants, judges and unsuspecting fruits and vegetables get carved up for our viewing pleasure each week night. My family and friends know that I am not a fan of the show. The judges repel my ethical sensibilities as they shovel food into their mouths, with the short bald one sweating as he does so, and I can’t help but picture the many starving around the world who would give their left leg to be so greedy. I probably wouldn’t be as offended if the judges were skinny and looked like they needed a good feed; it’s simply the excess that makes me feel uncomfortable and if I’m honest (which I usually am) the mirrored image that stares back at me…

That aside, I should admit that I do love cooking, although I rarely cook from a cookbook. The best explanation of this is that I have less interest in the actual recipe and flavours than I do with the preparing of it. As I’ve said before, I’m the third generation of good female cooks who can instinctively whip up a curry and I don’t recall my mother ever declaring as she served up my dinner, “the beef is the real hero on the plate darling”. Nor do I remember describing my food as being “eclectic” or “brave”. The thing that really tips me over the edge is when contestants describe their food as “honest”.

Really? Honest? Did that chocolate pudding tell you what a dill you are then? But admittedly I am predisposed to a rant and I’m also predisposed to use psychological rhetoric which I suspect also makes me appear rather arrogant. Maybe “honest food” is the equivalent to an “anal stage of motivational development”?

What they don’t talk about on the show is the growing girth of the judges and I suspect the growing waistlines of the many fans who rush out to replicate the dishes made on the show each night. I was only too aware of my rather rolly-polly waist when the toolman and I were watching our favourite show at the moment; United States of Tara (the toolman likes to see a couple with a wife “crazier” than me I suspect).

I was happy lying at my end (as couples know, we have our ends) and was conscious of the fact I was lying on the remote. A good twenty minutes later I shot up with a gasp.

“What’s wrong baby?” the toolman got a fright, such was my exclamation.

“Omigosh…I can’t believe it….I’m humongous!”

The realization had occurred slowly. I was watching the screen when out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the remote on the coffee table. If the remote was on the coffee table, then it couldn’t be under me. Whatever it was felt quite cool against my side. Then I saw the toolman’s dessert bowl sitting next to the remote. Where was my bowl and spoon?…….And then BOOM! I realized I was lying on it, actually lying on it.

“I’m so huge I can’t even feel crockery when I am lying on it! It was stuck between my rolls! People should tell me to stand up and shake when they can’t find their car keys!” I was distraught but then I fell into giggles.

A fellow blogger and “fan” of my blog told me this week to remind myself of the good things I do each week and I think she had a point. Yes, crockery got lost in my blubber and I didn’t even realise it was there and yes, add to that the loss of actually gaining weight this week and the result looks glum. But this week, I’m going to let it ride and have a laugh about it.

Now if I was a dish on Masterchef, do you think they would call be “brave”?

Deserving The Matter

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I’ve been feeling a dull and aching rage swill around in my stomach today. As a consequence, having not yet emotionally evolved, I’ve engaged in a list of masochistic activities all afternoon.

Weigh in this morning saw me lose 700 grams (1.54 pounds) which in the context of my Hungarian feasting last weekend, was quite a relief. However, the meeting that followed left a rather bad taste in my mouth; although I’m getting used to that (Boom Tish)!

It started as normal; some whoop-whooping from the stars who had lost, and some somber faces from those who didn’t. Our meeting leader who had just returned from a tropical holiday was glowing and whilst she is certainly a great advertisement for the weight loss company, she fails to engage me on a real-girl-with-big-bum-licks-the-crumbs-out-of-her-bosom kind of way.

Even though I have experienced a spreading behind and understand the minefield I need to dodge in life because of it, I have absolutely no interest in an Alcoholic Anonymous type meeting where we pat each other on the back for making the “right food choices” between meetings.

There we sit my mum and I each week, in uncomfortable chairs, in rows like children, and subject ourselves to stories from tiny women who proclaim in the most satisfied way, “oh, you wouldn’t believe it…I was out for breakfast and ordered one poached egg with spinach on the side and my friends were telling me how little I eat…I quite simply felt sorry for them, they have no idea what they are doing to their bodies”. In short, these little tales are, as my Aunt likes to say, just Vile!

Of course your friends are annoyed you silly woman, I wanted to say. Who wants to go out to eat with someone who, consciously or not, highlights to everyone else on the table how their indulgent choices are affecting their waist lines. But then again, why does this make me angry? Why should the choices of a perfect stranger affect my own?

Luckily for me, I don’t find it difficult to reach the truth. As truth be told, in a way I’m afraid that I’ll never be like this woman. That I will never have so much control as to deny myself what is needed to keep a svelte figure. And that most of all, I will never be seen as “one of them”. As much as I resent the fact that it is demanded of me, I don’t want to stand out in a physical way. I want to be unique in many other ways, often arguing for an alternate path for the sheer sake of it, but physically, nah-ah.

Why can’t I just be me; fat, skinny or porky pie? Why does it matter? Healthy or not, our figures are much like the cars we drive, the houses we keep, the jewelry we wear and even the words we write. They say all say, “look at me, I’m like you, I’m in the right group”. I would love to fight against it but this my friends is the way it is- am I really so special that I feel I can fight against the grain? Lets face it, I’m no Germaine Greer!

And so, in true oppositionary style, instead of doing all I could to join the in-group today, I chose to complete a list of self-deprecating activities.

  • I trailed through photo upon photo of mere acquaintances on facebook, wondering why they positioned themselves the way they did in each photo; side on, looking up, no remnant of a wobbly bit
  • I sat on my behind eating biscuits whilst looking at said photos
  • I berated myself for not studying for a rather important upcoming exam
  • I bit my nails between biscuit bites, undermining the hard work it took to grow them; and
  • Just to top it off, I chose the only spot on my six-seater couch that was clearly inhabited by my cat overnight, thus covering my own good self in her hair

Why is it so difficult for me to do what is good for me? Why would I never pay for a massage, my nails painted (although I dabbled in that for a time), or a tailored piece of clothing? Do I deserve it simply because I was born?

But then it doesn’t seem all that bad, because I remember that what I fear most is not being excluded from the in group after all; it’s being part of it and tut-tutting as the old me walks past…

“She just doesn’t realise what she’s doing to her body”…Vile!

A Newly Discovered Memory Lane

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I spent this weekend just passed in Sydney which was terrible for the waste line but satisfied almost all of my other sensibilities. The toolman is at first glance a typical Australian man; he has a bizarre but rather normal love of Australian Rules Football, he loves the most amber of beer and prefers to refer to tomato sauce as “dead ‘orse”.  He is however the son of a Hungarian immigrant mother and we spent the weekend with his very Eastern European grandmother.

Although we did none of the usual sightseeing which usually includes Sydney Harbour, the famous Bridge and Opera House, I did have an opportunity to become painfully aware of surrounding Sydney-ites. If you feel you have the most perfect of shades of blonde hair, can tie it severely in a pony tail, don some skin tight lycra and asics trainers, shout your demand of a soy latte and gloopey oats for breakfast at the poor waiter (hold the fat, the cream, the flavour) and feel inclined to laugh hysterically with your BFF as you tell each other how fabulous and interesting you are, you’ll be sure to have a riot in Syndey (I’m sure the tiny seats were there just to highlight how far my derrière really can spill over the sides). Needless to say, I would be more inclined to move to a damp cave inhabiting a grizzly bear than I would move there.

But the joy of the city is never found in its streets; it’s in a quiet apartment with a mature aged Hungarian couple who have the key to the most interesting city around.  With a “Hogy vagy” here and a sprinkling of paprika there, you will find an endless list of stories about crossing a war torn border, early immigrant Australia and tales of family history I seldom hear from the toolman.

Tales of characters with names like Monsika and Geisa are so closely tied to the toolmans’ childhood, I wonder how this man is more “fair dinkum” than “Béke veled”! Around his grandma, the toolman becomes his ‘European self’, enjoying the delights of her Hungarian cooking, the likes of which I couldn’t imagine myself replicating nor quite frankly, understanding. But the food of the toolman’s childhood brings out his playful and vulnerable side, which when it reveals itself, is magic for me to watch. As the weekend progressed, I realised that there are some things more important than calorie counting and I welcomed the food that Grandma served.

Unfortunately I never met the toolman’s mother and he rarely, for his own reasons, talks of her in detail. Any information I can gather about her is in pieces and I am often embarrassed about how little I know of her. Having never met his father either, it seems to me at times (albeit selfishly) that this man appeared in my life with the sole purpose of being my loving husband, with a fully formed personality that was created during adulthood without parental influences. Without any way to place that cheeky smile or the curvature of his hands into a context, I studied the photos Grandma showed me, trying to memorise the shape of his parents’ faces, the tilt of his mothers chin.

When the toolman brought out his use of the Hungarian language, reciting one of the few phrases he knows (Csirke halszálka which translates roughly as “chicken bones”), I was brought back to the present once more and reminded of how I love his humour, even if I’m not sure who he got it from.

When we left, it wasn’t without a tin full of cakes and sweets to take with us. With my Nanna gone from this time, I was reminded as I walked out the door, that there are few things that can beat the attention to detail that a Grandma can bring to food.

And ultimately, whoever you are, wherever you’re from, nothing can really beat Grandma’s cooking.