Ways to be Happy, Part One

Stone Crabs

I’ve always gobbled up articles on ways to be happy and so I read, with interest, an article in the Sunday Miami HeraldTry One of These Suggestions to make you SMILE. I made a note of the ones I thought I could easily accomplish- drink peppermint tea, go outside, color in a coloring book, say hello to a stranger, choose one drawer to empty, dance to a favorite song, phone a friend, paint your nails.

Tamales make me happy!

These served with scrambled eggs, black beans and sliced tomatoes.

There were other suggestions that were more difficult- Do What You Dread (I’m awful at this, but it feels really good), Forgive Someone, Click Unfollow (ie. Get off Social Media). The suggestion to “find a good knock-knock joke” made me think of Wyatt, as he’s at that age where knock-knock jokes are big. As are farts and boogers, but I digress.

Anyway, while I’ve always looked for ways to be happy, I’m really trying to be especially prepared for this big avalanche of sadness that I fear will descend on me in June, when A.J. and her family leave. I’m trying to prepare, but is it really possible? And A.J. is preparing too, going through stuff she has at our house to pack or give away before she moves. But she has a big adventure to look forward to and I will have an empty house.

I have toys in almost every room of my house. The biggest pile is in the breakfast/dining area, where a big basket sits where I usually am with the kids, but there’s also a bucket of trucks and board games in the Family room and other toys, books and stuffed animals in my bedroom, where they sometimes sleep.

My bathtub is adorned with J & J’s Lavender Kid’s Bubble Bath, a yellow rubber duck (with HOT on the bottom to tell the water temp) and a variety of squeeze toys of marine animals. I have a little bathrobe hanging there that says “Slugger” that was my Dad’s, then mine and my siblings, my kids and now my grandkids. I wrap them in this after they emerge from the tub and then rub lavender lotion on their little bodies before bed. I can remember my grandmother giving me a bath and scrubbing behind my ears (which apparently I never did on my own) before wrapping me in this same bathrobe.

I’ve already thought about moving all the toys into one room, maybe the upstairs bedroom that’s been Brad, Christopher and A.J.’s room over the 18 years we’ve lived in this house. Still, I am sad and well-meaning people have told me “St. Augustine’s not that far away” (Liam is in Tallahassee), which is true, but it’s just not going to be the same.

I won’t be picking up Wyatt from school once a week for tennis or reading him Charlotte’s Web on my bed. I won’t be making him chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast (with three syrups!) before I drive him to school, which is right down the street, or watching our favorite show- Bluey– on T.V. We won’t have snuggle sessions where he says “I love you Gigi” right before he goes to sleep, like he did this Friday, after we went to a U.M. Baseball game. How I will miss that.

I won’t have Phoenix squealing “Gigi!” before running into my arms when he comes over, or seeing his sweet little face light up when I give him a “bunny” (his word for little candies). And I will miss hearing the adorable way he says “Baby Shark”, in person, not on Face Time.

Baby Shark. He was saying Mama Shark and Dada Shark but, of course, didn’t when I recorded him. And then he coughed.

I moved away from Miami to Tallahassee when I was 35, taking my children A.J. and Christopher with me; My Dad was devastated. Kelley and John had moved there four years before and my parents had a going away party for them (with a Green Acres theme). It wasn’t at all the same for me, as their’s had been a move for work and ours was because we thought Tallahassee was a better place to raise our kids. My Dad didn’t handle it very well and now I’m coming to understand his point of view.

When I asked A.J., who was packing in the upstairs bedroom, if there were a lot of memories there, she shrugged and said: “It’s all a little hazy” and that she was too busy to think about it. One of the reasons I wanted to move away almost 30 years ago was because I wanted to separate from my family and have my own life, which I believe is what A.J. wants as well. I get it, I get it and I’m happy for her. It’s what our children do, what they are supposed to do, right? Give them wings to fly and all that Kahlil Gibran crap.

And, at any rate, I have my own new adventures ahead. Our trip to Alaska is less than a month away! It’s the last state, of the 50 states I’ve seen, for me to visit, so a big deal. And there’s another exciting, “bucket-list” trip coming up that I’m afraid to mention, as I don’t want to jinx it. Fingers crossed.

We had our last meal of Stone Crabs (courtesy of John Schild and his stone crab traps in the Keys) on Sunday. The claws weren’t very big, but they were sweet and delicious. I think the smaller claws are actually sweeter than the Jumbos or Colossals. I served them with mustard sauce, a lower-calorie version of Joe’s Tomatoes and air-fried Steak Fries, which turned out very good. Stone Crab Season lasts until May 1st, so get ’em while you can!

I found a show to cheer me up called Somebody Feed Phil. In this series, on Netflix, it follows Phil Rosenthal (creator of Everyone Loves Raymond) around the globe, as he eats the local cuisine and meets the people there. It is virtually impossible to be sad while watching this show, as Phil is a bubbly, energetic person who has an ever-present smile and does actual happy dances when he eats something he likes. Instead of Everyone Loves Raymond, it’s like Phil Loves Everyone. I wonder how anyone can be this happy? The show ends with a famous comedian on Zoom telling jokes.

There are six seasons of Somebody Feed Phil, so at least I’ll be happy while this show lasts.

Knock Knock

Who’s there?


Boo hoo?

Don’t cry, it’s just a joke!

Up Next: Spring Peanutty Dumpling Salad

Published by gleeguilford

Born and raised in Miami, the daughter of a pilot and stay-at-home Mom, I love food in all forms. My great grandfather opened the first Italian restaurant in Miami in the 20's, The Boathouse on the Miami river. I love exploring my heritage and linking food and recipes to personal stories. I've been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love and wrote restaurant reviews and news as the Miami Dining Examiner for three years. I love exploring Miami's latest hot spots, hole in the walls and institutions. I'm always looking for innovative ways to use the plethora of tropical fruits and vegetables South Florida offers, especially from my own garden.

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