Sometimes, with our frenetic schedules, the heavy responsibility of homeschooling and motherhood in general, it pays to be reminded of who WE really are. Starting maybe with who we were before we were Mommy.
Each year, I get that chance. The King and I get together with about 30 of our closest, oldest friends (the number depends on how many can make it in a given year) and up to 15 or so of our offspring for the better part of a week. We've been doing this for closing in on 10 years now, and before that, got together every Tuesday night for about 4 years in Pasadena, California, where we all lived. Most of us met in college and kept up with one another in our Single days, our Newlywed days, our DINK days, right on through the starting of our various families. We've stuck together through thick and thin. Slowly but surely, we made the reverse pilgrimage east and spread ourselves pretty evenly across the regions of the US and for one family, various other points of the world (there have been supplementary gatherings in Mexico, Cypress, and Kenya). So now our get togethers are only annual instead of weekly, but they are even more special. We've met in Maryville, TN, Phoenix, St. Louis, Chicago, Denver, Charlottsville, VA, and now Raleigh. Next year, we're back in St. Louis and then we aspire to do a cruise together so someone else can do the cooking.
Most of the attendees stay in the house of the host family, which can be a little stressful, but is always fun, too. Especially for the kids. Beforehand, we determine which family will be responsible for which meals (Brunch and Supper are served daily). That family submits a menu and a shopping list. The host family buys all the stuff for the meals before we even get there. The goal is always to provide the most gourmet meal plan possible and from scratch. Virtually every brunch this year included some spin on the common Mimosa and some type of quiche or souffle -- one had whole grilled beef tenderloin. Yum. The dinners were magnificent, too. This year, the host family added the feature of primarily organic ingredients and as much local produce as possible. At the end of each of these affairs, we add up all the receipts and divide it by size of family. It is a screaming deal! And there's such magic in the sheer number of hands to get any job or dish done in record time. It is a study in the value of cooperation.
It is always so very reassuring to see those people who are so similar to me on the inside and who knew me when I was so horribly young and silly, but loved me anyway. Some of you would have laughed at the conversations -- we played a game one night to see who had traveled the most and I'm pretty sure I was close to the bottom of the list. (I could count maybe 27 countries, but the winner had been to 44 countries -- the next runner up to 43 and then 42 and so on...) They had me feeling like quite the homebody.
The couple who hosted this year had a lovely and mercifully large (for all those people!) manor-style home with a European garden in the back -- tons of roses, pea gravel, a heart-shaped grassy area. The roses gave birth to a fabulous activity for the many children (all boys, save one): for every Japanese Beetle plucked from a bush, you got 1 penny. I was tempted to participate myself!! My oldest son won the championship, with some 633 Japanese Beetles whom he helped launch into another world, as he likes to say. He's enjoying his $6.33. This kept them busy for literally hours over the 5 days or so that we were there. Between this gentle, unscheduled time with plenty of chatter, reminiscing, confiding, learning from each other and the 3 days we spent at the beach the weekend before, I came home refreshed and completely ready to face my world.
I hope this will inspire you to call someone who knew you "when" and who still loves you anyway -- through thick and thin.
P.S. Here's one recipe I used for the brunch the King and I planned. It was sublime, even though we had to triple it. Make sure YOUR chilis are mild:
Egg and Chili Souffle
Oven temp 400 for 15 min. then turn down to 350.
1/4 cup flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
4 T melted butter
1 - 4 oz. can mild green chiles, chopped
1 cup small curd cottage cheese
2 cups grated pepper jack cheese
Grease and flour 9 x 9" pan. Beat eggs well until frothy. Stir in next three ingredients and add melted butter. Next, add cottage cheese and grated pepper jack cheese.
Pour into pan and bake 15 minutes at 400 then turn oven down and bake about 35 minutes at 350 or until slightly golden brown.