vacations, addictions, and medieval imprisonment

I took the plunge today, to sign off facebook and instagram for more than a month. Like, alllll darn summer. Lamaze breathing.

I have wanted to check 28 times today (to the power of 3, if any of you remember from what, 6th grade math?) Why is the pull of mindlessly scrolling through posts manically ‘liking’ what everyone is doing hold so much appeal to me? I can attribute it to a couple things, present at different times. Sometimes its loneliness, the need to hear/see what others are up to because the day has been too long and monotonous with the kids. Not an entirely negative thing, just a little escapism, which we can debate the merits of all day long. Sometimes I log on because I want to post things so I can feel connected and like I’m connecting. Arg! This ones trickier, and a little less healthy for me. I get pretty into my bubble sometimes and start to feel like connecting online with friends is connecting enough. In the end I’m less present in relationships, feeling like I did my part because I messaged or commented or liked, and can go back and be self centered and less giving and interact in relationships with the bare minimum of output. This is a weakness of mine, one I own, but I also know something like facebook is perfectly set up to cater to. I want to be forced to call my friends to see how their kids are, instead of absentmindedly scrolling through their photos. I want to have to invite someone over for coffee to hear what is keeping them up at night, whats on their heart, instead of feeling like I got enough of what I needed to know to keep up from a post. These are my struggles. Not everyone who uses facebook also falls prey to these same things, but I do. So it was time to go cold turkey. Rip off the banddaid. Stop comparing the lows in my life to the photo highlights in everyone elses. Hopefully this will be deeply rewarding. Right now its like a weird itch.

This weekend Tony and I went away to Suncadia, the loveliest mountain retreat of active solitude I’ve experienced in…ever. I have been struggling to pull myself from the panicky feeling of not being able to go back soon enough. Could I start selling plasma to afford it?? I told Tony today that I was sad. Now I know what that pool, those slides, those drinks are like in that heavenly mountainside. I know what I’m missing. I know that there are probably other people there right now experiencing the same bliss that I did, but I’m here at home, experiencing the invariability and flatness that can be running a home. I love my kids, so much its comical, but I think that I have been missing independence lately. Would I trade it for my family? Never in a heartbeat. But to be granted it for only a weekend felt like some freedom with my husband cut short. I heard it likened to old medieval dungeons, where prisoners were put in rooms that were built so that they could not fully sit down nor stand up. They were let out once a day so they could stretch, stand up, and experience the light of day, but that made it only that much worse when they had to back to their crouching dungeon. Thats a little bit what vacation is like….with or without children, its a freedom from your responsibility, the problems and annoyances of duty and routine. Of course I would like to go to the spa and hike and sip rum punch with my husband and play instead of deal with the routine and daily rhythm, that can have some breaks but is often the same. Dealing with coming home after a lovely getaway is always, a sobering experience.

I am so deeply thankful for my family though, who love my kids so well, and ensure they have so much fun when we’re away that they completely forget about us. I just want them to forget about us for 2 extra days next time.

bavarian bliss

Tony and I were sitting on our couch this morning and we realized that we had  n o  plans today.

Nothing that had to get done, no errands that needed to be run…and thought, what better way to end a lovely weekend but with a drive to Leavenworth? Have you ever driven there in autumn? I can’t remember a more gorgeous strip of road. So with a fresh Starbucks Americano in hand, we set off this morning and started a new family tradition.

                                    This is my favorite time of year to go enjoy the village.

                         We went out to lunch with our daughter…blissfully diet free for the day

                    We walked down to along the river, enjoying the sunshine and crisp fall air.

We took off in the late afternoon after a day of a few shops, some good food, a fun walk, and some good family time. On our drive back we realized that so often we feel that we can’t just take off because theres so much to get done at home…but really, if a late night at the grocery store, letting go of caring about the messes in our house, and realizing that we’ll all be ok if I don’t get everything ready for the week until, hrm, tomorrow morning (?) is all I have to do to enjoy a day like this with my cute little family, then I would do it every weekend. It would be a lot of gas money, but it would be worth it.

The (not quite) Joy of Cooking

I just love food. For better or for worse, I have never been someone who is disinterested in eating.

But my various misadventures in the kitchen sometimes leave me feeling glum and kind of deterred. Whenever the subject of cooking comes up if we’re having dinner with a couple or family, I feel like I grill (pun intended) whoever the respective chef is in the family about what they like to make, what recipes are good, and how they learned to cook. Especially how they learned to cook.

Often I’ll hear from friends, “Oh yeah, I didn’t know how to cook until I got married,” and then the story turns into something about how they became fantastic and can whip up souffles upside down because they watched the Food Network or something like that. Well, I’ve been married for about 6 years now, and I watch the Food Network whenever I go to the dentist, and I have to say that I still struggle in the kitchen department.

I think that I get intimidated by recipes, or I choose things that are too ambitious for a beginner. I love when a cookbook explains what a cooking term means, like “glazing” or “blanch” because it takes me twice the amount of time to walk back and forth between the kitchen and my computer to google all of the directions.

So…since I became a mom, and since I’ve been at home, I’ve thrown myself into this pursuit because we love to have people over (don’t worry, I do have a few go-recipes for company – I don’t tend to expose my experiments on my friends…yet). Over the days and weeks I’ve been home, I try new recipes and give them to Tony (my lovable lab rat). Sometimes it goes over well, and then there are days like tonight when he comes home and looks in the bowl and says, “That looks disgusting.”

In all fairness maybe it did look weird.

So, all in all, I’m still determined. Despite trying to substitute baking soda for baking powder (and figuring out that doesn’t work at all), using Tony’s stomach as my kitchen experiments melting pot, and figuring out the hard way that you sometimes really do need to read all of the directions in a recipe, I have faith that one day I might by the culinary wonder that I seek to be in the kitchen. Until that day, I’m thankful for wine (to give my husband when all else fails), and the grace of friends and family who have, and will likely, continue to endure my attempts to better my inner domestic goddess.

If you have any inspiring stories about how you learned to cook, please lift my spirits and brighten my day by leaving them here.

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