Monthly Archives: January 2011

Perfect Moment: A Handshake in My Sleep

Perfect Moment Monday “is about noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between.”

My kids have both been sick this week. Much sleep deprivation was had by all. Darcy let me sleep in on Saturday morning, which, bliss. At some point, my daughter climbed into our bed and fell asleep too. When I woke up, her little hand was tucked inside mine, as if we were making some sort of sleepy secret handshake. As if we were secretly agreeing to be in a club comprised of non-morning people. It was wonderful.

Please visit Lori to read more Perfect Moments.

 

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Day 29: Trying to Love (or Like?) Cooking; Making Rosti

I don’t love to cook. There, I said it. I think there’s a few reasons why this is:

  • I find even cooking scrambled eggs requires quite a bit of concentration.
  • Rowdy toddler twins don’t always allow me to concentrate. (I can hear you now: “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” Like Cuba Gooding Jr.’s teammate when he’s complaining in the locker room in Jerry Maguire.)
  • I am on my own most of the time. (Darcy works crazy hours.)
  • None of these excuses are valid, really.
  • I just don’t have the energy most of the time. Or, I’m lazy?

But, the last few times I’ve tried, it’s been enjoyable during the actual process and the food has been tasty. I guess psyching myself up for the actual cooking is the hardest part, and having Darcy around to run interference with the kids is invaluable.

I’ve been wanting to make this recipe for about a week. Finally last night, I made it.

I cut the recipe by 1/3 because I didn’t have enough hash browns, and I only had a 8×8 pan. This was probably a mistake. I think the potato mixture was too deep and the eggs took forever to “fry”. However, overcooked eggs and all it was DELICIOUS! The combination of eggs, potatoes and cheese is a wholesome tasting, throughly satisfying comfort food.

Grating the onion and the cheese took the longest time (because I grate slowly), about 10 minutes. Then I combined the thawed hash browns, butter, yougurt, salt, pepper with the onions and cheese:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I added the chives, then put the mixture in the baking pan. I cooked the mixture for 45 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I made impressions in the mixture to cook the eggs, but the whites and yolk did not get firm until 20 minutes. Again, I think that’s because the mixture was piled too high. Here’s what the end product looked like (one of the yolks broke up):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks so much to Mommy Porch for the recipe.

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Day 28: Does Adopting the Status Anxiety Philosophies Help? Part Two

As part of trying to live joyfully this year, I read and tried to put Alain de Botton’s book “Status Anxiety” into practice. The book’s main points:

  • We should resist grasping for more, and instead try to celebrate art, literature and philosophy that focuses on the mundane, the ordinary.
  • We should value goodness and virtue.
  • We should try to ignore the noise and judgement from others about how to live our lives and come up with our own idea of what makes our lives rich and happy and try to stick to that code.
  • We should opt out of the materialism game and instead appreciate what we already have.

I tried my best to work on this in the month of January, and as I mentioned, we had decided not to eat in restaurants this year, do lots of cooking, and stay home, in general try to enjoy ordinary family life, devoid of treats, vacations, and shopping sprees. I must mention that this way of living is not NEW to us. We’ve been living this way for years. I just tried to enjoy it more. Did it work?

I don’t think I’ll ever not be able to eat out, once in a while. It just means too much to me. But there were some cool facets to living this way: I really took a look at the material goods I already have and learned that the most meaningful items were, mostly, not the expensive items I owned. My grandmother’s butterfly pin, the wedding quilt my in-laws gave us and photos of my family (extended and immediate): this is the “stuff” that gives me great contentment. I didn’t read any great works of bohemian literature this month (I did read Melissa Ford’s book “Life From Scratch”, which if you haven’t read it yet, RUN to Kindle, your local bookstore, whatever, and buy it. So Fun!) but last year I read “War and Peace”, which shocked me by being super enjoyable and accessible. I couldn’t put it down. Tolstoy’s philosophy seems to fit in neatly with de Botton’s. I did join a book club, which I hope will be a nicer herd of women than the people in Geochick’s notorious group. I thought hard about cliques, tried to avoid mean people and befriend kind ones.

For the month of February, I am going to try to learn from my dad’s favorite group of thought-leaders – the Stoics – and see if any of their thousands of years old theories will help me live more joyfully. Spoiler alert: I’m pretty skeptical, I’m kind of a wuss and think I’m about as resilient as a hothouse flower, but I’m going to give it a shot. The book I’m reading is by Tom Morris, and it’s called “The Stoic Art of Living”.

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Day 27: Does Adopting the Status Anxiety Philosophies Help?

Back to Living Joyfully…

This month I decided to try to adopt the philosophy of Alain de Botton to try to live more happily. In a nutshell, this means trying to let go of keeping up with the materialism of the Jones and living a life where you are more appreciative of what you have.

I guess I’m kind of shallow, because I have to admit this has been really, really hard. It’s not that I have a need to consume, per say (although I wouldn’t say no to a trip to Anthropologie right now). But I’m having massive issues with eating.

My brother told me a story today. He and his wife are on a frugal kick right now as well. He was at school today and my SIL called and asked if he wanted to go get lunch with her. He said yes, of course. When she picked him up he asked where she wanted to go out to eat. “Home!” she said and neatly turned the car in the direction of their condo. My brother said his heart sank.

I laughed in appreciation. I’ve detailed my own love of eating in restaurants. This month, although we were supposed to eat out exactly zero times, we ate out twice. Those meals were the highlight of January, so far! I’ve realized that it doesn’t matter if it’s Chez Panisse or IHOP. I just like the experience of making a choice of what I want to eat, having someone bring it to me and not having to clean the mess. I also think it’s better for us as a family. Dinner is so hectic at home, the kids have a million requests and it’s just not very enjoyable any of us.

So I’ve learned that eating out is important.

Part two: what I did like about “Status Anxiety” – tomorrow

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The Bravest Woman in the World

WARNING: Extremely graphic content dealing with suicide, violent imagery and death.


Some of you might have heard of Lori. She’s a mummy blogger in Australia whose breezy, clever writing made her stand out. Before. Before her husband suffered a psychotic break and committed suicide in front of her a few weeks ago. Lori’s incredibly courageous, stark and most of all completely honest blogging of the event and the aftermath may save lives.

Her latest blog post is quite possibly the most brutal, disturbing piece of writing I have ever read in my life. She has titled it “Ugly”. And it is. I felt as if I might vomit as I read it, and I cried uncontrollably after I finished it.

America, 1987. A family of four sits down at a battered mahogany dining room table, and the father begins to say grace. The father is a stern yet gentle man, his wife possesses the rosy cheeks and cheerful disposition of an ideal midwesterner, his pre-teen daughter is all knees and elbows and his son, a toddler, throws a carrot on the floor in a typical ploy to hold the attention of them all. The father’s “Amen” is drowned out by a scream so vivid, so tortured, so extreme that it had never been heard before and has never been heard since by any of the family during waking hours. But they hear it at night. In their dreams, for years to come.

“Oh my God!” the mother says. This is a measure of how serious the situation is: she normally says things like golly or gosh. She jumps to her feet and sprints through the front door. The rest of the family watch through the leaded glass dining room window as a young twenty-something woman, the daughter of the family who lives next door, grabs the mother by her denim jumper. “He’s dead! He’s DEAD!,” the family hears her wail, she’s screaming to the mother, she’s right in her face. “He SHOT himself!” He’s DEAD!” She collapses into the mother’s arms, as if she suddenly weighs nothing, as if she is a used kleenex. “He’s DEAD! I saw him! He shot himself in the HEAD!”.

The father and daughter realize that she is speaking of her brother, the gentle teenager who they knew well, who always smiled and said hi to the gawky tween (secretly making her day). He only wore black and a gifted pianist, he always played The Beatles on the piano next door, providing a soothing soundtrack. After today, none of the family will ever listen to The Beatles again.

I can’t even tell this story in the first person, it’s so painful. But tell it I want to, because I owe that to Lori. And I owe it to her to to republish the speech she gave at her husband’s funeral, in the hopes that if there’s anyone in my slender readership who needs to read these words (and I sincerely hope no one does), they will.

I don’t know what to say up here. I don’t know what i’m doing here. But I spoke at our wedding, and I must speak now.

I was going to tell you all what a great bloke Tony was, what a great father he was, but you all already know that, or you’ll hear it today. What I can tell you is that Tony was such a great husband. He loved me, and our kids, so much. He took care of us. And he was big, and strong, and protected us.

And we loved being married. We loved being husband and wife. A lot of people say it’s just a piece of paper, but it’s not. We were so happy to be together like that. I am so proud that he chose me to be his wife.

Tony took care of everyone. all the time. He was so busy taking care of everyone else, he didn’t speak out when something was wrong.

And this is what you can do for me, for Tony, when you leave here today. All you men, you big men. When you walk away from here, you speak. If something is wrong, if something hurts, then you talk about it. Tony was so busy taking care of everyone else, he didn’t care take of himself. So after this, you speak.

Please speak, if you need to.

xoxoxo

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