So often, when you can least afford to take a break, you actually need it the most, so you need to force yourself to drop everything and take a breath.
My extended family, here in the Seattle area, numbers 29 people. Because the family is so close-knit, we celebrate every holiday and birthday together. And, with all of those occasions to commemorate, our gatherings are frequent, large and a bit hectic. To spread the load, everyone contributes food to each event and we take turns hosting (although the grandparents take on the “big ones” – Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter).
Last weekend it was my turn, as my husband and third son were born soon after Christmas. Two other family members have birthdays close to that time, so their parents offered to pitch in, as well.
As usual, I started preparations a few days ahead: planning the menu, grocery shopping, de-cluttering the house and cooking. On Saturday, I set out the utensils and serving platters, wrapped gifts, assembled the “Dirt Cake” (every child’s favorite) and baked the foundation for a chocolate mousse cake. (I had planned to finish the cake following a dinner party that night, but after a few glasses of champagne, I opted to watch “Saturday Night Live” with my husband instead.)
On Sunday morning, I hit the ground running; I woke early to start the Bolognese sauce for the home-made lasagna, boiled the noodles and whipped up the cake’s chocolate mousse filling and white-chocolate buttercream frosting. I hoped to make a quick trip to the gym, but the cake and sauce took longer than I had imagined, and other family responsibilities kept sidetracking me.
So, when my friend Azie sent a text asking, “M:I-GP at 1:30?” my first reaction was, “Wrong day, wrong time.” Then, I reconsidered. I still had one gift to pick up at the mall, and the movie theatre was right across the street. I really wanted to see Mission: Impossible, and didn’t know when else I might squeeze it in. In the end, I replied: “Gr8! C u there.”
To read the complete story of how I made my "great escape," go to PermissionSlips (http://permissionslips.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/the-great-escape/), the blog my friend and colleague and I update each week.