Two-Week Recap!

Whew! Where have I been? It’s been a long few weeks- to be honest, I have been writing some intensely taxing material, and in doing so, I flooded away my desire to do much else. I spent some time ruminating and feeling sorry for myself, and then I got back with it (with some help from a few indispensable friends). So here’s what I’ve been up to that doesn’t involve sad poetry or trigonometry (or both?)…

Two Fridays ago, Maurya and I took the kids to Peace Valley Park and hung out on Lake Galena! Gorgeoussss!

That Saturday, my Mum and I took the kids to Newtown’s Market Day. I hadn’t been to Market Day in years, so it was refreshing to walk around and check out the different booths.

 

Book sale in front of the library!

Fabulous fall decor everywhere!

A booth selling little pewter figures. I so badly wish I had gotten some for J & C!

The Milk House stand, of course.

Rag rugs!

A gorgeous old loom in action!

Jack and I took a ride on the horse-drawn cart. These are the same gorgeous Belgians that were at the Grange Fair!

We had such a wonderful time! Jack was going crazy for all of the activity, and he absolutely loved the wagon ride. Doing things like this with him and Carolyn have filled my life with so much fun- I look forward to different seasons for different reasons now, because I know that there’s always something to do with J & C. Children make it so easy to love life 🙂

Sunday was, of course, CSA pickup. Included: two acorn squash, one head of cauliflower, four ears of corn, five scallions, four turnips, five carrots, a big bag of wax beans, two tomatoes, two giant beets, and three peppers. All of this has been eaten, save for the beets.

Last week I also had some fun growing my own alfalfa sprouts. I have another jar and seed packet, so I’m planning on doing a full write-up of the process (so easy), but for now I’ll give you a preview of the result:

These are so yummy stuffed inside a pita with a great glob of hummus.

This past weekend, Mum and I actually drove up to Connecticut! She had a cocktail reunion party in Norwalk, and since my night was free, the kids and I went along for the ride. We made a stop over to visit Yaya and baby Kathleen…

I know, that lead-in was a bit misleading, but it was actually really peaceful. The weather was perfect and the grounds were empty, so we were able to just sit with our memories of Yaya and appreciate the beautiful day.

We also spent some time visiting family friends and old neighbors of my grandparents. It was a short but lovely trip, and I’m looking forward to returning.

And then, of course, there was Sunday- my birthday! As I get older (although, I’m still very young), my birthday becomes less about what I do and more about who I am with. I spent most of the day with my Mum and the kids, and it was perfect!

Breakfast at C’est la Vie! Hands down, the best bakery in the area. After breakfast, I took the kids to the park up the street, and then out to Small World Coffee over in Princeton. I love to coffee shop hop, so it was really special to bounce around to my favorite cafes all day long.

Maurya, Julius, and Moms stopped by later with Babycakes cupcakes! Maurya and Julius were coming home from New York Comic-Con, and they blew me away with baked goods from my favorite bakery.

Honestly, it was one of the best birthdays I have ever had. I feel so fortunate to have such an amazing group of friends, and a supportive and inspiring family.

Next week, Mum and I are driving out to Ohio to visit R.S., and we’re stopping in Bloomsburg for dinner with James, so that’s when the family celebrations are going down. My brothers and I are all in October (James is the 2nd and R.S. is the 11th), but this year we were all in different cities and couldn’t get together on any of the birthdays, so next week is standing in as all of our birthdays, and we’ll be able to celebrate together. There has been talk of a traveling birthday cake…but more on that later 😉

 

Sunday was also CSA pickup (again!). In this week’s share: five leeks, snap peas, four peppers, a head of green cabbage, six potatoes, three jalapenos, one each of spaghetti, acorn, and butternut squash, a big bag of wax beans, a head of Romanesco broccoli, and an ear of fresh popcorn. I am super stoked about the popcorn- that’s on the menu for tomorrow afternoon.

Busy, busy! I have been so swamped with schoolwork, for a while there it felt as though I was drowning in it. This week is a bit more manageable, but only because I pulled a really late night staying up getting some work done to turn in early. It took a lot of the pressure off for this week, but now it’s back on with a heap of assignments due next Monday and Tuesday. I’m looking forward to heading west next week and seeing my brothers, and have been thinking about that each time I feel overwhelmed. I’m going to try to keep the energy up on here too, if only because I have a ton of fun things to share- just as soon as I carve out enough time. As for right now, it’s bedtime for this sleepy Momma!

Road Trip, Part Two: Canaan.

After a long day of driving, we arrived in Canaan on Friday evening! My grandparents have lived there for many years, and as a child I remember driving up to visit them often. The last time I was there was in 2005, for my Grandfather’s funeral service, and that wasn’t exactly quality time with my Grandmother. My cousin had suggested earlier in the summer that we carve out a weekend to visit Grammy Austin, and bit by bit we made it happen!

Saturday we spent some time relaxing at Grammy’s. As the kids’ naptime approached, I could sense a storm coming.

They had a hard time being off of their schedules, and I thought that a drive might give them a chance to catch up on some sleep and give us a chance to explore Canaan and the surrounding areas.

 

New England is one of the most beautiful areas in the country (secondo me…), so driving around was breathtaking. Of course we passed a farm market in our travels- somehow, no matter where I go, I end up at a farm market. They had a fun chart that kept track of which veggies and fruits were in season when, so you knew what was in stock.

They also stocked my favorite balsamic! I used to buy this in bulk from the 4th Street Food Co-op in New York, and haven’t been able to find it anywhere else. It makes any other balsamic taste like water, it’s so rich and syrupy.

 

We also passed an old abandoned barn (okay, we passed a lot of old abandoned barns, but I only took pictures of this one).

I have a thing for barns- don’t ask why, they’re just plain gorgeous. The older, the better!

 

We wrapped up our Saturday back at Grammy’s with her daughter, a delicious pasta salad, and old videos of my Grandfather telling stories about his experiences in WWII. It was the quintessential visit to see my Grammy, and it was absolutely divine. I even spent some time admiring her watercolors- she is a very talented artist, and her work is on display throughout the house.

This one is my favorite. The man in the painting is actually my Grandfather- he and Grammy were sitting watching the sailboats, and Grammy was captivated by the beautiful scenery. Grandpa, however, was totally consumed with his crossword puzzles!

It’s hard to believe that our visit could have gotten any better, but then Sunday morning came, and Lisa arrived with her four children!

Though at first, some of us were still wearing our cranky pants…

…but managed to pull it together eventually.

We all enjoyed some buckwheat pancakes, fruit salad, and danish while the kids played and munched. We even wished Grammy an (early) Happy Birthday!

I have been trying to get the kids spending more time with their cousins. Growing up, my cousins were great- like siblings, except I didn’t have to live with them. It is important to me that Jack and Carolyn grow up with their cousins, especially since they’re so close in age.

Seeing all of the kids together was more fun than I can describe. I know Grammy was thrilled, and I was glad we had made the trip. Seeing her so happy, and everyone having a great time together, was absolutely priceless.

After breakfast, we moved the party outside to let the kids run around and get some fresh air. Soccer, volley ball, watermelon, dancing, flower picking, and hula-hooping ensued: all of the elements of a perfect summer day.

What an amazing way to spend a weekend. It worked out that Lisa and the kids were able to make it up to Grammy’s, too. We had a wonderful time just hanging out together enjoying the weather.

It wouldn’t be an Austin family photo without some hilarity…James picked up the slack this time around. Men’s hula-hooping for the win!

It was sad saying goodbye. I don’t know when I’ll next be able to visit Grammy, and while I hate to think it will be as far away as next summer, I don’t think I have much of an alternative because of my class schedule.

Before leaving Canaan, we made one last stop…

…and said goodbye to Grandpa. It’s hard to believe it’s been seven years.

The cemetary was so peaceful. Grandpa was buried at the top of a hill overlooking a farm, and the view of the hill in the distance with the cloud’s shadows drifting over them was so calming.

What a beautiful place to be at peace.

Having said our farewells in Canaan, we drove back down to Norwalk to give in a bit more to our relentless nostalgia.

This time, it was at Overton’s, a seafood shack we used to frequent. We would come here after a day at the beach for fried clams and onion rings, sit and eat on the dock above the water, and watch boats come in from days spent out on the water.

Just as I had remembered.

This trip was so special in so many ways- getting the chance to see my Grandmother after so many years was an amazing thing. Having it work out with Lisa and her children was even better- I don’t think people realize the impact family can have. I find that when I am with my family my heart is lighter, looser, and I laugh more.

My mother and I made a real effort to connect with family this year, and I think it’s a good jumping off point for the kids. I so badly want to see them grow up knowing their extended family, and I feel like I have begun to put the pieces in place to build a solid foundation in that regard.

It was definitely a weekend to remember, and despite the long hours in the car, I am already committed to another visit next summer. Until then, I’ll have to settle for email and Skype!