Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving from Lebanon!

Because American Thanksgiving is not a holiday here, we celebrated this past weekend. We had dinner with friends at our house – a few families coming together – and cooked all the food ourselves (not a given here in Lebanon, I’ve come to learn). Turkey, a Butterball purchased at Spinney's, cooked to perfection, along with all the dressings, and pumpkin pie for dessert. It was great. The food was awesome, the conversation interesting and fun, and I think everyone had a good time. Almost as a holiday-caricature, half-unconscious,  after all the plates had been emptied a couple of times, we all leaned back, patted our full tummies, and moaned, unable to fit another bite, exclaiming, “Happy Holidays!”

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

11-11 somewhere down memory lane

Deep down in my memory basket I have preserved a cold, windy, dark and cloudy November day in Antwerp just about a decade and a half ago.

Just as it was getting dark, Prof. Husband and I, only young undergraduate students then, stood on the beach with a bottle of 1986 Margeaux that a friend had given us. Rough, black clouds in the distance over the English Channel threatened to launch a storm at any moment. It was too cold to drink and our fingers were almost too stiff from the freezing water the wind kept spraying at us to put our rings on, but there we were, exchanging vowels. Through sickness and health. Until death do us part.

We didn’t linger, but went to a warm, cozy local restaurant with brown wood paneling, red, thick velvet curtains, an open fireplace, warm wine and good food to celebrate the beginning of the rest of our lives.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Making cream cheese

The day before yesterday Courtney made cream cheese.

For some inexplicable reason Courtney’s very much into making things out of living bacteria for the moment - to our Jane-Buddhist maid's great horror. Following the sourdough phase, this apparently seemed like a natural continuation. We both often make yogurt, but this is slightly different, I think, in that it is a little more complicated. He’s currently working on a couple of different cheeses that take time, but the cream cheese was finished in just a couple of days (it's both great and a little disturbing to know how fast bacteria can grow in this climate). It turned out really nice, albeit a bit more sour than store-bought cream cheese.

The biggest problem we had was: what were we going to do with it? 500+ grams of full fat cream cheese. We would either need a lot of bagels, or… that’s right, we made cheese cake! Yum!

Now we just have to wait a few weeks to see how -or even if- the brie cheese turns out.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Time to catch up

So, I work a lot. I homeschool our boys, I take care of a two-year old 24/7, I manage the majority of our household duties, organization and planning, I help my husband with his work, and I work - as in; I have an actual paid job. For fun - and to keep my mind from going bonkers - I sing in a choir and in a smaller group, and I run.

I am always busy, but I don’t get overwhelmed, and I can usually manage all these things all at once. 

Yes, really. 

However lately, I haven’t been able to keep up. I don’t know if it’s the extra choir group or maybe I’ve taken on too many editing/translation jobs. It could be that my husband has been extra busy, that Abraham is getting more demanding, or that the older boys need more attention with regards to school work, social arrangements or sports. Whatever the reason, I’ve been in that perpetual state where I’m constantly playing catch-up for the past couple of weeks.

This weekend, extra long courtesy of Abraham’s faith in God, gave me a good chance to catch up. I only had one small, easy translation to do, and along with only two sports events, one administrative task and one social event, this provided me with some extra time to get things done. I didn’t go into it with an exact plan, but since I had an idea of all that had to be done, I decided I would just let urgency decide. When I woke up on Saturday morning, around 6:30 am as usual, it became clear to me what I needed to start the weekend with. I got Abraham some fruit and cereal, set him up with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and went back to bed. I slept another two hours, then I had a light breakfast and spent the next hour on the treadmill at the gym. I felt so much better. It wasn’t on any list, not even my mental running list of things that need to be taken care of, but boy was it urgent. I needed some rest and a moment to myself.

I spent the rest of the weekend more relaxed than in a long time, going through my chores with fewer sighs, and paying more attention to my family. Out of all the parenting advice I see, setting time aside for yourself is one of the most common articles, however I always look at them and think “Yeah, yeah, whatever. What parent reads this and has a revelation?” I do set time aside for myself – my scheduled music sessions every week, and exercise several times a week – but this weekend was different. I took a moment for myself, when I needed it, without working around some schedule, or putting everyone else first. 

Yeah, I know; what possessed me, right? 

I don’t know, but it sure felt good. Let me conclude this with the cliché:

This happy mother is a better mother.