Category: Food For Thought

Our kids’ caregiver came down with a terrible cold and so, like any other working parents of young children, we made the best of it. Evan and I are fortunate to both have flexible working schedules, allowing us to work after the kids go to sleep, and share parental responsibilities during the day in a pinch.

This was the first time however that childcare was only needed in the afternoons (now that the girls are both in school). While nervous as first, I quickly realized that minding a pre-schooler really just meant lunch followed by a nap and, once that was over, so were my core business hours.

However brief that lunch was, it was the sweetest thirty minutes that I can remember in quite some time. Picking up your child from school midday and walking home hand-in-hand while catching up on their day and even my own morning is extra-ordinary. We talked about science class, dance parties on rainy days, and how someone’s hair clip was confiscated because she fiddled with it. Lunch was quiet because learning at school is hard work. Last and most intoxicating is the brief but unforgettable cuddle which we shared right before nap.

I quietly patted down Eliza. Gingerly descending the stairs back to my computer, I was greeted by the emails, messages, and meeting notices it held safe and sound for me. And as I walked down to the kitchen I couldn’t help but envy any mom who has the luxury to eat lunch with her children and tuck them in for their nap, listen to them retell stories of their morning as soon as it’s over and not try to pry it out of them when they’re tired and hungry for dinner. These are luxuries that most people can’t afford and not always because they’re financially precluded from doing so. How I wonder about parents who can’t wait to ship their kids off to school — an inevitable eventuality.

That being said and smarting from the the sting of envy I remembered that, one day, when the girls are just a bit older and have their own lives making them not be available for pre-school lunch dates, I will be there in the evenings and weekends. And … and I will be me and not just “mom”. And “me” works because it fulfills my drive for making something with my own hands that improves the lives of many other people.

Food For Thought Life Motherhood

There are moments during which, upon seeing/reading/hearing, something I am forever changed. I do not mean to imply that the change is instantaneous; Rather, this kind of change is slow but powerful having resulted from being placed squarely out of my comfort zone. This Saturday was one such a time where, for two hours, I saw concrete evidence of how alive, creative, and rebellious Philadelphia was.

Evan and I joined a Street Art tour of the Spring Arts/Eraserhood neighborhood of Philadelphia with the curator of the Streets Dept. blog. The focus of the tour was on murals, graffiti, tags, and wickeds. And while I knew that Philadelphia proudly boasts more murals than any other city in the United States, I had no real understanding how much other art graced this city’s at-times-gritty streets.

Evan took these pictures while I captured these and so many more with my eyes trying to understand and process all the messages.

This isn’t an old picture — this is now, today, in a neighborhood mere blocks from ours. Many people see grit, grime, abandonment but some see a blank canvas, an opportunity for change and rebirth.

Food For Thought Life

Living in the city and being constantly surrounded by you and single people provides an insight and reminder on what life used to be like before kids, full-time jobs, and responsibility. The summer also accentuates the carefree, fun-loving side of young people looking to soak up every last ray of sun (and a beverage) on balmy and hot evenings. I realized that dating isn’t just for single people and that there’s something very charming about having not just a dinner out but rather a date out. 


Technically there’s not much of a distinction between the two but perception is king. And so, last Friday, having sent the kids to what we lovingly refer to as Camp Baba and Deda, I met Evan for drinks. We didn’t make any extensive dinner plans out, as tempting as that was, instead opting to meet at a little old-school oyster bar in the neighborhood for drinks. We also didn’t arrive there together and that was what made it so much more fun. I walked over after a fairly busy and long day. The walk, was laced with the knowledge that the weekend had begun. Having just a few minutes of solace, and the anticipation of great conversation were waiting for me, made this feel much more like a date than a way to occupy my evening.

I highly recommend switching your evening out plans for something that seems much more simpler but is so fun and refreshing. And while we are at it, if it all possible, I would pair this lovely dating-your-husband activity with a summer of grandparents who take the kids off your hands, out of the hot and frenetic city, and give them a brief allusion of those carefree summers we all had. 

Food For Thought

Time flies, kids grow, and we age. True. More than that, time flies, kids grow, and we learn. Parenting, for me, has been very different from what I imagined it to be. Actually, I am not sure I imagined anything when it came to parenting. My perception was that parenting was about ensuring that your child was fed, clean, and happy. And it is but it is also about so much more than that. Parenting is about helping your child find out who they are and providing them with the tools necessary to shine and make a difference in the world.

I found that the best way to prepare children for the real world that lies beyond the home is through instilling a basic but very important fact: the rest of the world won’t bend around you and that everyone, at times, must conform to expectations. How does one teach children to at times be defiant and at times conform? Expectations. Failure to set expectations for children to confirm to in early childhood will result in a serious shock to their emotional well-being as young adults. In our own family, we have used responsibilities, activities, and school as a means to teach about expectations.

We made, what was at that time, a difficult choice to send Sophia to pre-school. I remember doubting our choice thinking that three was really very young to end the honeymoon-like time of being a toddler at home. Besides learning baby yoga and how to papier-mâché, Sophia learned what it means to manage her own time and to function on a schedule. She learned to wake up and go to school even if she didn’t feel like it, to get dressed, and make the best of the day. Being in school and part of a larger collective means that a child has to manage themselves for a few hours each day. We are following suit with Eliza who attends a few scheduled classes a week. Looking back, I regret that we didn’t enroll Sophia into a few classes even before pre-school. Social development cannot be fully achieved solely in a home environment.

This structure and a degree of rigidity doesn’t imply that we have a stuffy environment devoid of laughter and silliness. At least one of our girls declares that “we won’t be besties” if she doesn’t get her way freely. That’s fine. I am happy to sometimes be “besties” with them and sometimes not. Responsibility and expectations may at times be quite a burden for children but it does have its rewards.

 

The here and the now (2017) ↑ and the not so distant 2014↓

Food For Thought

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Food For Thought

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.

Food For Thought

Food For Thought Life

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.

Food For Thought Life

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. 

Food For Thought Life Moments

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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.

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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.

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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. img_7438.jpg

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. 
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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.

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Thanksgiving was just as we liked it — fairly small, warm, and delicious. It was a real treat to just kick back and relax.

img_7448.jpgIn 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.

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