Holidays in years past have been epic affairs. Thanksgiving practically required a spreadsheet to organize, and Christmas needed Swiss precision as we rushed from this place to that. All that planning and coordinating made it hard to enjoy the holiday as it unfolded.
This year, Brian and I decided to make some changes. Our Thanksgiving featured only the four of us, Brian, me, and our two girls. In typical fashion, we sat down an hour later than we’d wanted to, but it didn’t matter in the least. After dinner, we had pie, put our littlest to bed, while our older daughter got to stay up late to watch It’s a Wonderful Life with us. We had to pause a lot and explain things that don’t come up much in a 7 year-old’s life, like the difference between a building and loan and a bank, World War II, bank runs, the Charleston, and the nature of greed, but still, it was a lovely time. Right after that, our weekend spiraled out of control a little bit with sickness and the like, but nobody had to go to the hospital so we count that as a victory. read more »
In the beginning, neither Brian nor I had grand ideas for parenthood. Honestly, it was a selfish endeavor for me –– I wanted to see if I really could, you know, create another human. I also, somewhat mistakenly, saw pregnancy as a great opportunity to eat a lot of ice cream. Our daughter was an easy baby, especially once we’d made it through those first six weeks, and Brian and I settled in to parenthood rather effortlessly.
And things went along this way, with the usual ups and downs, until last year. That was when we realized that the skills required to nurture a big kid and help them become an upstanding person are pretty different from the ones you need to nurture a baby. It’s been a tough transition, with lots of instances of helping our oldest navigate her relationships with others, resolve conflicts, and right wrongs. These same things happen with littles, but the social web of interactions is so much more immediate. Also, there’s homework. read more »
When you work for yourself, when a hobby turns into a job, it’s tough to measure success. And, where the internet is concerned, it’s nearly impossible.
My friend Kelly, the talented woman behind Design Crush, has an ongoing project to share a quote a day everyday this year. I must confess to kind of hating the typical quote sharing on the internet and can guarantee that I do not follow your inspiration board on Pinterest. (It’s not you, it’s me –– if I never see the Keep Calm meme again it will be too soon.)
Kelly’s quotes are different. They move beyond the fluff and hint at the best quiet, focused, or selfish bits of driven people. They reveal truths, minus the saccharine. And occasionally, the smart words she shares stop me in my tracks. read more »
The best desserts are the simplest desserts. A few flavors, choice ingredients, and enough finesse that everything together is so much better than any of the ingredients alone.
It took me a while to really understand tarte tatin. For the longest time, it seemed to me it was just an upside down apple pie. Don’t freak out –– I’ve seen the error of my ways. A good tarte tatin is spare, with a deep caramel, pleasantly soft apples, and a dreamy puff of pastry to hold it all together. Here, I’ve swayed from tradition only slightly by adding a pinch of sea salt. And instead of store bought puff pastry, I went ahead and made my own rough puff pastry (which is, if you’re worried, fairly simple to make.) read more »
Our family of four relies heavily on a delicate balance of personalities. Brian, whether by nature or force of will, is stoic and patient almost all of the time. I strive for the same, but most days just holding it together feels like an accomplishment. If there’s one thing you don’t have a lot of as a parent of two, it’s space, both personal and mental, and I need a lot of it. I thought, now that our littlest one is in school five days a week, I’d have plenty of time to recharge and conquer the world, but it seems the more space I have, the more I need. Making up for lost time, no doubt. We had thought our girls each took after one of us –– the oldest being sensitive and prone to the same types of high highs and low lows that her mother experiences. Until recently, our youngest seemed to have inherited her father’s quiet introspection and mellow exterior. I say until recently because just a couple weeks after she turned three, something changed. All of a sudden, there were tantrums, as well the intense desires and a stubbornness that you might expect from any other toddler turned preschooler. We just really didn’t think it would happen to us. read more »
At the McCarren Park Greenmarket a few years ago, I overheard a woman getting an earful over the phone for suggesting a purchase of non-organic apple cider for a child’s party. She tried to speak up for the local orchard selling cider right there in the market, but this was in the middle of the great apple juice arsenic scare of 2011 and so she lost that battle.
Which is too bad, because the orchard in question was a low-spray orchard that takes a thoughtful approach to integrated pest management. Whatever organic juice the woman bought instead was likely trucked from the other side of the country or even farther away, which has an environmental impact just like pesticides do. And though it may have been organic, it still may not have been as responsibly grown as the cider she was forced to pass up. read more »