Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My weekend in "France"

Last weekend I had the incredible opportunity to house sit for some friends who didn't really need a house sitter. The stipulations for house sitting were that I come without children, that I eat their food and that I don't do any housework. I was asked to NOT make the bed. I showed up on Friday night and found a huge welcome basket waiting for me filled with yummy food and wine. I stayed up late on the first night and watched movies. Because I am a busy mom of three boys and a pastor's wife and I actually need sleep (which some mom's don't seem to need) I don't watch many movies. So pretty much any movie out there I have not seen. I watched three movies and then slept in until 7 the next morning.

Unless you are in the middle of raising kids and unless you have kids like mine who do not have volume control nor do they appreciate sleep that much, you will not fully know the value of waking up to a quiet house. I did sort of miss my family Friday night as I watched movies and I sort of missed my family when I climbed into my friend's guest bed for the night. But the confession is that I really didn't miss them at all when I woke up the next morning to a quiet house. I was able to spend some time praying beyond just the usual "Lord, help me get through today" or "Lord, give me patience to not lock my kids in their rooms" or "Lord, please give me one more year before Ben figures out how to use matches..." It was so wonderful to spend that time with the Lord and with my really strong, bad coffee (I cannot make coffee but Ryan is a barista as well as pastor so why do I need to learn?).

I had enjoyed some good bread, salami and bruschetta the night before for dinner and then on Saturday morning I headed to a crepe shop to meet up with some girlfriends for a late breakfast. After a lovely time with them ("Lovely" seems like the appropriate word after time with girlfriends eating crepes, doesn't it?), I headed to an outdoor mall to window shop.

When I was all window-shopped out I went home for a quick snack and changed for a date night with Ryan. He actually came to pick me up from the house I was staying at, and then at the end of the evening he dropped me back off there, "just as if we were back in college!" as Ryan put it. We went down to San Clemente to a little shop that specializes in flavored olive oils and balsamic vinegars - called Oliver's. We tried every one, and had them combine oils and vinegars for us, and then we were so confused that we left empty handed because they all tasted good. At least we live close. :) After Oliver's we went down to the pier to watch one of the prettier sunsets I have witnessed in a while and then to the Vine restaurant that has a decidedly French menu.

After Ryan bid me au revoir (that's french for goodbye, of course) for the evening I watched two more movies, the final movie being "Julie and Julia." I liked the movie but didn't love it. But I had just finished Julia Child's autobiography "My Life In France" which I loved and it is rare to find a movie that I like as much as the books on which they are based. I finished the movie and of course wanted to cook something but since it was midnight (about three hours past my bedtime) I hit the hay.

The next morning I looked through my friends cookbook by Julia Child - Mastering the Art of French Cooking - which of course I need to have that cookbook now. I packed up my things and made sure that the made up guest bed was just rumpled enough that my friend couldn't accuse me of making the bed, and then headed straight for our local farmer's market. I picked up two pounds of mushrooms to saute, some salad greens, some fresh fruit and a huge potted purple heather plant. After such a "french" infused weekend away I couldn't help myself and felt very urban and cool with my reusable bags, fresh produce and huge purple flowers under my arm. Not a soul noticed but I definitely had a spring in my step as I left the market.

I headed home feeling refreshed and happy. Every mom should be so lucky as to take a weekend away. And an introvert like myself needs more than a "girls retreat" - I really need time alone. It was a blessed time of eating, shopping, mindless movie watching, time with friends and hubby, praying, reading and sleeping. Ahhh.

I walked through the door of my house at 9:30 am on Sunday morning. The older the boys were playing a video game rated for teenagers which I had told them not to play. Laundry was tossed about the living room floor. Dishes were on the counter and in the sink. Two year old Ben was eating marshmallows, and Ryan was on his computer. He looked up and said "oh...I thought you wouldn't be back so soon!" Fortunately for them, I only gave them each a kiss and hug and headed to the kitchen to get some good coffee.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


People who say that having children means the end of all productivity do not know my children. Let me just use last Wednesday as an example of what I mean. Last Wednesday by 6:45 am, while I poured myself a cup of coffee, Isaac had painted a picture of a Japanese woman in front of her authentic Japanese home in acrylics. Ian had played two games of bowling and had gotten past two new levels of Indiana Jones on our Wii. While I attempted to put some clothes in the dryer, Ben climbed up on the counter and took out every vitamin, cough drop and chocolate chip from the cupboard. He also took all the candy canes off the tree and ate two, while stashing the others in some secret spot I have yet to discover - I only know it exists because he keeps showing up with candy cane sticky face at random times throughout the day. By 8 o'clock a.m. in the time it took me to use the restroom and splash my face with water, the older boys had made a pillow fort, thrown about 1000 verbal insults at one another, pushed, shoved, stuck stinky feet in each other's faces and had broken the sound barrier while telling me through the bathroom door the injustice of having brothers. Ben in that time had quietly gone outside in his feetie pajamas and had watered all the plants with his squirt bottle, getting his feet-ie pajama - clad feet all wet and muddy and had also found the time to pull some stuffing out of an old pillow in the garage and rummage through some bags to find an old piece of Easter candy from last year.

I could go on. But I am exhausted just recounting the day to you. Let me just sum up. I believe by the end of the day I had (I think I remember this correctly) gotten dressed and eaten at least one meal although most likely standing up - unless Ben was on my lap eating it off my plate before I could get a bite. The boys had continued on pace. Isaac invented a couple things, searched for gold with his metal detector, created a new Indian tribe complete with it's own language, made a tornado - sized wreck of his room, lost his shoes at least 10 times, and managed to get more food on the floor than in his mouth for all three meals, putting his 2 year old brother to shame. Ian found a way to push every single one of Isaac's buttons, played more video games than I care to write in case this would incriminate me as a bad mother (although this blog is called "confessions,,," after all and it IS Christmas break). He rode his bike and went back and forth to the neighbor boy's house every five minutes for about 5 hours and managed to suck a little bit more of my sanity while he worked his weird reverse-psychology meets manipulation- meets overly emotional and overly sensitive middle child- magic on me. Benjamin jumped on the bed where I had neatly folded and sorted the laundry just moments before, helped me wash the windows by spraying an entire bottle of windex on the kitchen french doors, spilled his hot chocolate all over the livingroom carpet, organized the cupboards next to the refrigerator where I keep anything even sort-of resembling a sweet, and had made paper airplanes out of our pile of bills on the computer table.

Like I said, our family should be proud. Three young boys in the house could mean that not a thing gets done all day long. Thankfully that is not the case around here. We are one highly productive crew.