Bethany and her family were in town this past weekend! Besides my parents, who came out to help us settle in, they were our first overnight houseguests in our new house, and we made many happy memories here together.
I’ve shared about hospitality many times before, but I never talked about the having-overnight-houseguests kind because Bethany and Anna both do it so well and could write about it more eloquently and because I’m still holding out for Christina to come back and guest post for us on how she sets up her guestroom (I’ve stayed in three iterations in different houses, and every time, I was so inspired). But I’m feeling the need this week to convince all of you to invite old friends to come visit you (or invite yourself to stay with friends–we have a guest room!).
I really do believe that for me, road trips to visit likeminded friends (my childhood best friend and a handful of our best college friends) are what keep my husband and me energized in this single income, stay-at-home mom, homeschooling life we live that is so very different from even the other families in our church. It is not particularly convenient for people with large families and/or young children to share a small space for even a weekend, but it is still so worth it. I’ve told before how Anna and her husband and two kids came to visit us when we lived in a one bedroom apartment in grad school. It was such a sweet weekend, even though my husband and I were sleeping on an air mattress in our living room! In a pinterest-and-facebook culture, it’s so easy for us to have slightly warped views of how even our dearest friends have everything together if we’re not local and stopping by to see the little lego pieces everywhere on each other’s floors on a regular basis. The Real Housewives of E2S Project is Anna’s and my online attempt at transparency in this area; we aspire to be neat, tidy, and organized, but our lives are often anything but. When you’re in someone’s home, you see that she has legos and cheerios hiding in nooks and crannies in her house, too.
Does it sound overwhelming to have people in your home for an entire weekend? I’m an extrovert, so it appeals to me to begin with, but I’ve also taken notes from my hospitable friends and have a plan down for hosting. I always try to start off the weekend with a clean slate–everything is freshly swept, vacuumed, and toilets and bathtubs scoured. Toys are organized and put away so that when a million things are inevitably pulled out, it’s fresh chaos, not chaos on top of chaos. This is work, but it is the kind of work I should do on a weekly basis, anyway. I try to plan ahead of time to have meals (breakfast/lunch/dinner/snacks) plotted out, something I do, anyway. When Bethany’s family was here, I grocery shopped the day before, spent the next morning making a double batch of granola and fresh crockpot yogurt for easy breakfast options, baked my normal four-loaf batch of bread for PBJ sandwiches for lunches, and did my most time-intensive meal (homemade pizza) that first night. The second day, we did crockpot chicken tacos that I threw in at lunchtime so all we had to do at dinnertime was make the rice and warm up the tortillas. I assigned my husband dinner duty on the third night while Bethany and I got out by ourselves for a couple hours, and he made the yummy homemade spaghetti that we’re eating in the picture above. During the summer, he might grill out instead. That’s pretty much our set weekend-company-meal plan, tweaked if people have food allergies or whatever. Bethany’s kids, like mine, cheerfully eat tons of produce, so snacks were carrot sticks, red pepper strips, and cucumber slices in the afternoons and sliced up apples, pears, and oranges in the mornings. Easy peasy! I’d made a large batch of pizzelle cookies for a potluck last week and saved enough for us to have those for dessert one night, and I pulled cookie dough balls out of the freezer for an easy fresh cookie treat another night. Feeding 11 people can be expensive, but since all of our meals were from scratch, each meal was probably less than $1/person. A meal out would have easily been over $100 for our crew, so we didn’t go out. We ate well at home. As far as mess goes, three extra children do pull out different toys than mine would on a given day, but we also had all the extra sets of hands helping clean up every night. All the adults pitched in with cleaning up the kitchen and wrangling kids. It was a very low-key weekend, overall.
Do you host out-of-town friends in your home? Did you grow up doing that? Do you invite yourself to out-of-town friends’ homes? Do you feel comfortable doing that? Malibu is a beautiful place to visit, and did I mention we have a guest room? Just sayin’.