For better or for worse our daily lives are married to technology. Content about any topic lies at the end of our fingertips and answers to most questions are just a few quick word entries away. And while sometimes there are questions we seek answers to, there are more times that we seek to be presented with information which, in the best case, will provide food for further thought.
Like, for example, the entry in Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s Encyclopedia of An Ordinary Life in which Love is defined as, best I understand, the desire to be close and involved in another’s life. And it is true, love is the willingness to share yourself and your life with someone. But it is also the selfless, compassionate care for another(s) with the sole purpose of making their every day better. You know, that feeling that you get when someone serves you a hot, steaming, aromatic bowl of hand-made stuffed pasta? That’s love.
But besides all that, love is a clean house, empty laundry bins, and a fridge full of delicious foods that leave all the time in the world for focusing on what is truly important – family. Or maybe love is the perseverance and desire to make the above happen.
A shout out to all those parents who take on sole responsibility for household care — it is very hard work whether it’s your full time job as a stay-at-home parent or your second full-time job that you take on after “regular work”. Also this gem from a few days ago because #matchymatchy #growingupsavvy #sisters
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Today, as it turns out, is just over a year since we moved into our home. We lived in the city before moving to our home for fifteen months having rented a block away from where we currently are in Old City. This neighborhood, however, has been home to us before—before we had kids and moved away to pursue careers in the D.C., area.
The time seems apropos to evaluate what is great and what not so great about our home, the neighborhood, and the city. The commuting logistics: we live in Old City which is also where I work on N3RD street. Evan telecommutes 3-4 days a week from home. Sophia’s school and Eliza’s extra curricular classes are a 15 minute walk or a 5 minute drive from our house. We’re big supporters of public transportation; A bus that goes directly to school is a few minute walk from our place, too.
The living logistics: our dry cleaners is a 30 second walk as are no fewer than 3 coffee shops. There’s an amazing toy store a minute away and Sophia takes classes at a great studio located 5 minutes on foot from our home. Eating out is a pleasure what with having these amazing gems nearby and we remember our engagement party every time we walk by this one. Our whole family is really into the arts so having the Arden and all the galleries nearby is also a huge treat. My favorites are the Clay Studio and The Center for Art in Wood. Come summer time, we are a two blocks away from the Franklin Fountain, three blocks from what was rated the best ice cream in the world, and a mere 10 minute walk to Franklin Square complete with a carousel and a mini-golf course.
The outdoors logistics: Philadelphia is very historic and the city has designated a lot of sites and parks as public spaces. Independence Mall is just around the corner from us and Washington Square Park is a ten-fifteen minute stroll.
And so while we have a car and a garage to house it, we don’t strictly need said vehicle. There is something to be said for walking to work and one’s commute being a mere 10 minutes. However, that something is much, much, darker when its raining, snowing, or is super windy outside. I also don’t love trash days because trash days in the city mean trash piled out on the sidewalk. I wish we had more living space but I also know that more space would mean more stuff and we don’t really need any more stuff. I am certain our girls are quite confused about what one does with a back yard seeing as how they have two small decks but no back yard of their own. They are, however, very good at navigating and know their own neighborhood very well. Sophia and Eliza are comfortable taking public transportation and aren’t overwhelmed by the freneticism of a big city. Lastly and most importantly Old City has become not just a neighborhood, but our neighborhood.
So the answer to “Are we glad we stayed in the city?” is a resounding yes. Until next time, a few years from now when we take another stock of life in the city.
These two — discussing their next adventure together. These times of peace and quiet can at times (especially now) seem untenable but when they suddenly appear out of nowhere like a rainbow after a rainstorm, they’re so beautiful.
As the year is coming to a close, I can honestly say that 2016 has been eventful; we’ve moved, I’ve changed jobs, we’ve overcome a children’s surgery, and generally tried to keep afloat. There’s nothing our little family needs more than R&R.
So here’s to 2017 and I hope it is less eventful.
Our friends came for brunch on Sunday and brought an amazing rendition of snickerdoodle pie. Baking cinnamon-infused cookie dough into crispy pie crust really is a no brainer. I saved the recipe and shall have to learn how to make it very, very well by practicing often. Brunch was a simple affair and, in addition to the snickerdoodle pie, included buttermilk pancakes, turkey meatballs that the girls have dubbed amazeballs, and vanilla-bean cheesecake (all homemade). The kids played together and the adults conversed and tried to keep up with the continuous pancake, juice, and meatball requests.
That was Sunday which we kept in line with the long weekend’s theme keeping things low-key and focusing on spending time with Sophia and Eliza. Saturday we took the girls out for chocolate croissants and
coffee steamed milks, saw the Comcast Center’s Holiday Spectacular, made sour cherry hand-pies, and made a super comforting roast chicken dinner.
Friday, for a real treat, we took the girls to the Please Touch Museum for a morning of play and discovery. We were there shortly after the museum opened and the girls didn’t skip a beat heading downstairs to the grocery store and hospital exhibits.
Before Friday, there was Thanksgiving which we spent with my family in Wilmington, Delaware having contributed a home-made cranberry pie with a streusel topping. The pie featured a home-made crust of which I am very proud of having gone as far as to blind bake it.
I had plenty of little fingers to help me measure out all the ingredients, stir the cranberries in the pot, and decorate the top with streusel.
Thanksgiving was just as we liked it — fairly small, warm, and delicious. It was a real treat to just kick back and relax.
In the end, even after all the other pictures featuring mouthwatering pies and glossy berries, this one (see above) is my favorite. It was taken using my phone and isn’t particularly well-framed but it conveys the very essence what our daily life is about — developing and nurturing a bond between Sophia and Eliza. Here is Sophia helping Eliza zip up her coat. She did this without us prompting simply because she wanted to help and to be the big sister. This Thanksgiving break was epic.
Sophia drew portraits of me and Evan at school. Someone said that I (on blue paper) take up the whole paper and am bigger than life; I couldn’t agree more and this is probably just how Sophia feels! I am all grown up and my mom is still everything and bigger than life to me, too! #growingupsavvy #moments #kidsart #sisters #sisterlove❤️ #motherhood
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These days our lives are much like this merry go round; round and round they go. Events, birthdays, parties, and family gatherings keep popping up on our calendar and while it would be nice to have a few weekends or weekend days to ourselves, we press on and try our best to make it to every single one. Family and friendships are very important to us and we do our best to maintain them by joining in special celebrations.
I feel like in this day and age and especially at this stage in our lives, as parents of young children, it would be too easy to drift apart from our circle of friends. But the support and diversion that our friends and family provide from the at times deep-trench warfare that is parenthood is immeasurable. And so, at times beaten by dress-related battles and toddler tantrums, we press on to the next birthday bash and outing. In doing so we are teaching the girls that family and friends are relationships that must be maintained, honored, and cherished.
Years ago, eight in fact, Evan’s best man spoke at our wedding. Among other things, he spoke about all the time and adventures they had shared over the years since meeting one another in kindergarten. Kindergarten, I must remind you, was a long, long time ago.
Many years have passed since grade school and while their lives have taken them to different geographical places, these lifelong friends make time for each other when it matters. This past weekend my in-laws hosted a most lovely reunion for Evan and his friend. He and his little boy, were visiting his parents who also joined.
Our Saturday morning play-date was special because this was the first time Evan and his friend both spent time together as fathers. And seeing them catching up, the kids toddling around, made me realize how fleeting life’s moments are.
Time is the most precious gift and that is exactly what these two people with full lives gave each other — a few hours to catch up. No matter how busy their lives have gotten, they have always made time for one another and, I am sure, so it will always be.
It has lately been too hot to go outside in the evening after dinner. Maybe not too hot, but too balmy and humid. Last night, we’d all had enough of this and finally decided to brave the dog days of Philadelphia’s summer and go for a walk after dinner. Dinner was, by the way, a sake and ginger poached chicken breast served with basmati rice and peas. The girls love it and the poached chicken works beautifully in green salad for lunch the next day, too. But I digress.
Walks, I have discovered, are a wonderful way to talk to your kids. I rarely if ever take the stroller and we instead hold hands and stroll. We stroll at the girls’ pace and are sure to discover every nook we come upon. We stopped by the Girard Fountain Park yesterday because the water feature there is so lovely and one almost instantly feels cooler from the sound of running water in the heat of the summer. Trying to keep cool in the heat is why the Moors placed such importance on fountains in their gardens in the south of Spain.
In addition to discovery and exploration on the girls’ part, there is discovery on my part. I get a chance to hear the stories from their day and find out what Sophia and Eliza are interested in, what they did today, and answer questions they may have. Every parent has their shtick, that which they find of utmost importance or the principal that they parent by. Conversations and explanations are mine. I firmly believe that, and I have long preached this on this blog, children should be conversed with as adults. That children deserve and need explanations and not edicts. This may take time, but you are teaching your kids communications skills, vocabulary, logic, and reasoning, and you are also getting to know your children at the very same time.
Some will disagree and say that an explanation is just too many extra words or that a two year old will not understand the reasoning behind this. An explanation is extra words, extra effort, and a two year old may not always understand, but a child will learn. Moreover, the saying that “mom knows best” is true except it is not just mom, but mom and dad. We are, after all, an egalitarian household. As such, when others offer advice and feel that they know better, always listen to their suggestions and reasons, but remember that they’ve had their chance at parenting.