We’re launching right into school-year mode this week and next; Kaspar’s started his Montessori
phase-in, and, next Wednesday, my massage school classes will pick up from once a week to every morning (I’ll still head into work a few afternoons each week, and otherwise work from home). Aaron, too, just began taking a class in 3D animation-- he did the tattoo animation in the film Black Swan
-- which promises some challenging projects for the fall. I’m pretty sure it’s possible, but I can’t quite picture the logistics of how all of this will go down. I do know that we’re going to need a seriously streamlined morning routine. No tossing clothes and toys about in search of sunscreen and keys. No Eggs Benedict on a whim. No waking up whenever Kaspar does and easing into the day—no ma’am. We’re re-joining the rest of rush-hour society as contributive morning citizens.
With that in mind, I’ve realistically considered that there will most likely be days when, in getting ourselves showered, and Kaspar fed and packed for school (plus pottied—that’s starting soon, too), Aaron and I won’t have a chance to eat breakfast. And I’m a breakfast fan
. So, I’ve created this recipe for Parent-Power Bars, for powering up on the go. Ain't nothin' slowing us down! These bars are very
tasty; Aaron’s eaten a significant portion of my model-batch already. They’re also portable, which is key, and way cheaper than granola bars bought at the store. Simply wrap them or bag them, and you’re good to go. If your kids can eat nuts (Kaspar can’t), and their schools allow them, these also make for excellent, high-energy (without the crash) school-day snacks.
Power on, super moms (and dads).
Click Read More
for the recipe.
This is what a layover looks like after a 5 AM departure time, and three hours airborne (without a nap):
This is what improvised in-flight entertainment looks like (still no nap):
Plus this (nope...), plus two more hours:
This is what arriving in lush, cool New Hampshire looks like after a long, napless, and yet miraculously meltdown-free day of travel:
Did you know that I grew up here?
It's good to be back.
Traditional work environments and schedules, while fairly straight-forward in their structure and demands, give rise to… agitation in me. I’ve always been ‘good’ at the desk jobs I’ve had—much like I was always ‘good’ at school—but I’ve also had the sense that being ‘good’ at those things was 90% bullshit and 10% outsmarting the system. There’s a limit to the value that can emerge from that kind of combination. Luckily, some people foster real passion within the structure of a nine-to-five, and others (also luckily) erect some other kind of structure, and then fidget and fiddle with the pieces until things feel relatively right.
I’m now in the latter category, as is Aaron—he’s never had an office job, even as filler. I have a part-time job with a flexible schedule (slash boss), and we both do freelance work. We’ve been splitting our days and tag-teaming nights for a year, since moving to Austin, fitting work and life around each other like some kind of thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle. Juggling 100% DIY kiddo-care with work, finances, marriage and what remains of our individual selves/passions/pursuits (just kidding… sort of… the important parts do remain) we’ve landed upon a happy, sometimes stressful, but ultimately liberating chaos that has benefited us, and—most notably—our son. In exchange for frequent late work nights, which aren’t ‘all that’ at all when you’ve been up since dawn, we’ve had the opportunity to split daytime Kaspar-watch right down the middle (I do mornings, Aaron’s on in the afternoons). As a result, our relationships with him are built on strong foundations and rooted in closeness. It’s been worth it, without question, and it’s what I imagined when dreaming up our move to Austin a year ago.
Looking ahead to the coming fall, though, we realized that the time might be upon us when we introduce some childcare into the mix. Both of our schedules will kick up a notch or ten beginning in September, and while we could continue to juggle in the way that we have been, perhaps hiring a babysitter for those times when we’re both expected elsewhere, that option just isn’t very viable, or appealing, anymore. Having some portion of the day when we can both attend to the things we need to (I’ll be attending class in the mornings this fall, and Aaron will be working) will mean that we’ll be able to organize our remaining time in a much less frenetic manner. Kaspar, too, has lately been showing all signs of readiness to branch out from our foundation. He loves playdates and is fascinated with other kids, and is just Mister Interactive—he’s exploring everything within his environments, and a positive, engaging childcare setting will probably be just his speed.
So, where to start with that?
Click (Read More) for the rest of the post!
We start the week’s menus off strong in our house, incorporating in-season produce into our family’s favorite recipes, as well as new dishes we’ve been wanting to try. These meals leave us feeling nourished-- as eating and living well will-- not to mention pleased with ourselves for our colorful plates and expanded bag of kitchen tricks: from shakshuka to spare ribs to artichoke soup, we do it all. Until about Thursday, when we hit the pasta-and-sauteed-veggies zone (still good, if predictable), and Friday, when we could
make grilled cheese sandwiches but usually just eat leftovers (or something delivered, if the leftovers are cold pasta, or gone). By Saturday morning the fridge is barren, a no man’s land of condiments and limp celery. No fun at all. So we pack ourselves up and head to the farmer’s market, arguably my favorite place on Earth (wherever on Earth I might happen to be: click here
to find a market near you). There, Kaspar runs around chasing his shadow and meeting other babies, and I run around buying up okra, eggplants, watermelon, and pastured meat. Aaron looks on (and helps us along), amused.
When we pile, with our bounty, back into the car, I always say something like “I love the farmer’s market!” and Aaron nods, “Mmmhmmm.” It’s not his favorite place on Earth, he says, but yeah, it’s okay, it’s a good time. I tell him all about how we’re supporting local agriculture, supporting the survival of our planet’s dwindling plant diversity, doing our bit for the local economy, sticking it to The Man. I tell him all about how the vegetables picked just that morning will be so much more nutritious, and therefore taste better than anything we might buy in a store. He smiles, Mmmhmmm. Then I explain how the animals that our meat came from spent their lives outdoors, eating what they should have been eating and feeling good, so we
won’t be eating nasty injected hormones, or even natural stress-induced hormones; we’ll be eating healthy, happy food. He nods, mmmhmm, that’s good. Then somewhere in there I say the word BACON, cuz I bought some. And with that, my man’s back in the game.
Thanks to the farmer’s market, our weekend breakfasts are truly inspired. We keep it simple, but we shoot for complete. We had a favorite brunch place
back in Brooklyn, and haven’t yet found an Austin equivalent, though one is no doubt waiting in the wings. We haven’t really had to hunt one down because we’ve beeing doing it homestyle, putting our local produce to good use. This past weekend, we cooked up the bacon, as well as some kale (with sweet peppers, garlic and fresh ginger), and layered it all—with some grated black-pepper raw milk cheddar
—onto slices of toast. Some sunny-side up eggs and steamed sweet potatoes later, and we were in weekend nom-nom heaven as we rounded the corner on noon.
We’re not strict “locavores”—we also shop at the grocery store— but eating locally in this way bonds us to our community, and involves us in something bigger than ourselves (I highly recommend this book and website
for a great story—and indispensible information—on the topic). It makes us think more creatively about the food we’re preparing, and that food really does
taste better, without question, which is a big part of the point of eating. We’re also excited to try our hands at growing vegetables ourselves when we move. I should mention that I’ve killed every plant I’ve ever owned, in less than a week, so if you have any tips on doing that, beginner-style, please pass them along.
Do you and your family eat locally to some degree? Why, how, and what’s it like for you?
We're moving to a new house in September. A brand new house; it's being built as we speak. It's been in the works for a while (houses don't go up in a day), but is only now becoming real for us. We have to pack, and then move! Again. Whereas our last move was a shot in the dark, however, this move is a definite, known, highly planned upgrade. We are stoked.
We've really made the most that could possibly have been made of our current apartment. I mentioned recently that it was 'gross' when we moved in, and that's no exaggeration. Aaron had come down here from New York for a weekend to scope out available rentals in advance of our move, and this one we’re in now-- compared to the copious far-flung, fratboy-infested highway-side complex offerings-- was, on most fronts, a total score. Location is a huge priority for us, and our apartment is centrally located in a decidedly cool neighborhood filled with much more expensive (but not gaudy… more like organic gardening, Dwell magazine, yuppy-style) homes than our own. As a result, we get good coffee shops, restaurants, and clothing boutiques nearby, and a walking-distance stretch of hip nightlife (hence our kickass anniversary dinner last week
), tattoo parlors and local businesses of all stripes. Our current apartment also has the proper number of bedrooms that we thought we needed, although we've rearranged our sleeping and working situations
from our initial layout to meet our real-time needs. Lastly, we got twice the size of our Brooklyn abode, with ample closet space, and for a fantastic price. A little too fantastic, as it turned out, to be true. (Here comes the gross part. Kind of awesomely so.) Click Read More below for the backstory on the gross, and the newness!