Wednesday, February 19, 2014

carpe diem

After an extra long weekend (with a PA day last Friday and the Family Day holiday on Monday), as our son noted, this past weekend was equally as long as our upcoming work week.   Finally, a break!

As a rule, we usually complete all of our homework right after school before we get to play.  Especially before a weekend, so we avoid the homework-scramble-the-night-before we return to school.  But this time, we deviated from our usual routine, and although the kids did most of their work, they left a few things to do for later on, and started enjoying their long break right away!

With March Break just a few weeks away, we decided to do a few low key activities and just enjoy spending time with friends, cousins and each other.  I guess we've been so accustomed to being organized and always on the go, that it felt a little out of my comfort zone to not plan anything at all and just go on a whim.  We went to restaurants we've been meaning to visit.  We took advantage of quiet skating parks.  Watched a few movies.  And to be honest, as much as we needed the rest and slow pace, a part of me was feeling a little anxious.  Nothing planned, no bookings, no rush.  This actually felt odd to me.  For once, there were no activities planned with military precision. Laundry and homework left incomplete.

Maybe I felt odd because subconsciously, I thought there were a lot of "should haves".  As in, "we should have" finished all our work before we played.  Or, maybe "we should have" taken advantage of this extra time off to go on a fabulous weekend getaway or full day ski trip.  

During our quiet ride home from a dinner night out, our son unexpectedly said "You know, we are very blessed to have parents like you.  To be able to have opportunities like trying new restaurants and having new experiences, even if the experience is just eating a meal together.  Not a lot of kids are as lucky as we are."  I think my eyes started to water right there and then.

When I think of that moment, I realize that maybe we did seize the weekend after all.  The kids learned an important lesson about work before play, as they experienced the eleventh hour panic about incomplete homework on Monday night (trust me, they won't do THAT again).  And I learned that it's okay to get out of my comfort zone of planning and organizing...and to seize the day instead of carefully planning every little detail, because sometimes you just might find even more magic in those unexpected moments.  

Looking at the impromptu twelve layer chocolate cake with ice cream, and how it made those beautiful faces smile...I guess I'll just have to practice leaving my comfort zone once in a while and say 'carpe diem'...and maybe just seek comfort in my food instead.

Herb Mashed Potatoes
Serves 8-12 people

There is nothing more comforting than mashed potatoes, especially on the cold winter nights that we've been experiencing lately.  Adding roasted garlic and oregano added more depth to the taste, and elevated this dish from your average mashed potato into something a little more fancy, served at a restaurant.

  • 5 pounds of potatoes, peeled and quartered. 
  • ½ cup of butter
  • ½ cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup of cream cheese (optional...adding the cream cheese allows the potatoes to be made ahead of time and stay creamy when reheated).
  • 1 whole garlic, roasted
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 ½ tsp. of oregano
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
  • Add potatoes and cook until tender but still firm, approximately 40 minutes.  Drain.
  • In the meantime, place the garlic in a square of tin foil, drizzle with olive oil and roast in the oven at 400degrees for approximately 30-40 minutes.
  • Add butter, parmesan, garlic, salt and oregano.
  • Mash.
  • Add cream cheese (if using), and top with a little more oregano.
Serve and enjoy.

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