Spring.

 

Let me first say that when I started this post I was writing from the inside of a fort that we constructed from miscellaneous blankets and sheets, and then stuffed with pillows and more blankets. The kids were napping on either side of me. We’ve been on a fort kick recently, usually in the morning, right after breakfast, and sometimes in the evenings before bed. It’s absolutely amazing.

IMG_1159

IMG_1161

IMG_1186

Of course, I wasn’t able to finish before they woke up, so I am writing the rest of this from the outdoor tables at the Yardley Starbucks.

377342_711581258845_1725605347_n

Not a bad alternative 😉

There isn’t much to say in the way of new and exciting news, so I thought I’d share with you just a general overview of the types of activities we’ve been enjoying over the past week or so. A little of this…

IMG_0892

Helpers! I fins that I care very little about how much laundry actually gets folded, and mostly I just enjoy watching them feel good about “helping” me. It’s magic.

IMG_0991

Possibly the greatest food ever created.

IMG_1027

IMG_1030

We made train-shaped sugar cookie sandwiches with vegan oreo creme filling. Jack just about lost his mind.

IMG_1017

Green smoothie, green tea….green life?

…and a little of that…

IMG_1046

This is one of my favorite onesies- Beatrix Potter for GAP 🙂

IMG_0988

random lunch: hemp bagels with hummus, power greens, and Field Roast vegan sausage with snap peas!

IMG_1039

I ordered a few choice items for the kids for their spring wardrobe, and these sweatpants have been a favorite. They are so, so soft, and have buttons and flaps so you can roll them up or down. I have thought about getting him a second pair on a number of occasions, because they are so cozy and versatile.

IMG_1021

Favorite hemp bagels! We actually made a Wegman’s detour on our way home from TJ’s JUST to buy these, because they are amazing.

IMG_1040

Carolyn got fancy sandals from Old Navy- mostly because they were on sale at a great price. They are totally not sturdy enough for the playground or general everyday wear, but I thought it would be nice for her to have a cute pair of sandals for special days 🙂

 

 

IMG_1014

TOMS and a pink Lulu devotion tee. This is probably my fanciest outfit as of late. Don’t judge.

IMG_0976

Our favorite TJ’s licorice. Ally introduced me to it- delicious, naturally flavored, and vegan. Also, 99 cents. Unbeatable.

IMG_1023

Jack is becoming an incredibly kind and patient brother, even when Carolyn’s strong will gets the best of her 🙂 Also, JACK’S SWEATER! Another great find on the GAP clearance rack ($9, I think?)!

IMG_0986

GAH, groceries, the true story of my life. This is about ten days’ worth of nosh O.o

IMG_0989

BOO! Those wooden stacking/nesting blocks were an Easter gift to Carolyn. They’re very popular.

 

IMG_0992

Hist Whist!

We made a rockin’ three “cheese” vegan pizza one night, which was a hit:

IMG_0995

Homemade sauce and roasted veggies!

IMG_1002

Tofu ricotta, Daiya cheddar shreds, and sesame parmesan over six-herb dough, homemade basil sauce, spinach, and roasted peppers, onion, and broccoli.

IMG_1005

Obviously, there were no leftovers.

We made  trip into New York, and the kids got to see Eli and Abi while I met Patty. It was pretty incredible, because I was having a really challenging day, but somehow seeing Patty melted everything away and left me feeling refreshed and centered. We had a wonderful time, doing what we usually do (eating), and just being together. We got dinner at Thai Market (spring rolls, fried tofu, and pad thai), tea and macaroons at Peace Food Cafe, and then cupcakes and brownies at Babycakes. We watched the sunset from the Lower East Side, and then took the long way uptown, driving up Park Ave. through Grand Central. It was incredible, and I left feeling quite the opposite of when I had arrived.  That is the true power of a great friendship.

305864_710454886105_1972716535_n

IMG_1158

73929_710469337145_1991963347_n

68594_710484057645_1944694820_n

528223_710489726285_1246813827_n

72885_710489746245_1635416368_n

15263_710517236155_1258116973_n

Back at home, the weather has been so lovely, so the kids and I have been spending a lot of time outside.

IMG_1054

IMG_1055

I can’t even. JOY of joys 🙂

The turtle sandbox has been the highlight of their day so far.

547415_709525443715_827288844_n

We’ve also been hitting up the playground almost daily, making new friends (both kids AND Mommy!)

IMG_1244

This is the first time that Carolyn has been able to fully enjoy the playground. She learned to walk over the winter, and it was just too cold to have them outside for extended periods of time. She is loving it, and to be honest, it’s really nice to be able to put her down and let her run around. It gives my arms a much-needed break, and she gets to explore the world! The playground we usually go to is fenced in and geared especially for toddlers, so it’s pretty much the greatest thing ever for all of us.

IMG_1237

IMG_1232

Carolyn has discovered the slide. New favorite thing!

IMG_1230

Her flowery bubble onesie was part of their spring order. It’s really soft, and it’ll keep her cool during the later summer months, but it’s totally layer-able and comfy, so it works for spring weather too.

IMG_1224

Baby’s first Keens! Jack got his first pair last year, but he’s outgrown them so we’re scoping out a pair for him this week. They will probably each get a pair every spring- they’re so versatile, and great for play.

IMG_1223

These green shorts were another great find from the GAP. They’re really well-structured and the material is very sturdy, plus the color is so fun 🙂

IMG_1221

Jack is officially one of the big kids, now- he climbs the slides. It is an ongoing battle, though I know at some point the matter will be out of my hands and I’ll have to surrender to his boyish impulses. I’m not quite there yet.

Speaking of big kid activities…..

IMG_1134

IMG_1128

IMG_1138

IMG_1146

IMG_1152

IMG_1150

IMG_1153

 

There was a carnival at one of the local farms, and my Mum and I decided it would be a good idea to take the kids. It was a blast, Jack was ALL ABOUT IT, but in excess- he just wanted to go on ride after ride, and this monster obstacle course was the clear favorite. My legs were FEELING IT by the time we left, and so was my heart, because I swear I almost went into cardiac arrest going over the swinging bridges at the top. Jack, of course, was absolutely fearless and loved every minute of it.

IMG_1108

This is my new favorite shirt for Jack- chambray from GAP, it has convertible sleeves that roll up and down and button while rolled up, perfect for a busy toddler!

IMG_1092

IMG_1122

Carolyn’s safari shorts, another great find at Old Navy- super durable, comfy, and cute!

IMG_1068

IMG_1094

IMG_1157

It was some of the most fun I’ve had with them, and I am really looking forward to the Grange Fair this year. I can’t even imagine what Carolyn is going to think about all of the animals- she’s a big animal lover, and I think the cows are going to blow her away.

That about sums it up on the kids’ end- food, laundry, fun. What more could you want? We’re all approaching this summer with a new attitude. This fall marks some big changes for us. I’ll be commuting into Philly for school, and the kids will both be starting day programs at Rainbow Academy (Jack for PRE-SCHOOL, WHAT IS HAPPENING?!). I know that we’ll embrace these new changes as we do everything else- with a sense of adventure and excitement. But I’m also making sure that we pump this summer full of fun activities and lots of quality time together. I’m doing a bit of volunteering, and taking a solo trip out to L.A., but other than that I plan on spending the next three months soaking Jack and Carolyn up and having extraordinary adventures together.

This summer is special because I have a huge break from school. I plan on using the time to write and spend plenty of quality time with the people that matter most to me, but also to focus on myself a bit more. I really enjoy getting up before the kids in the morning and going for a run, or hitting the yoga studio at night after they’re in bed. I haven’t been as diligent about those things  because with homework keeping me up until midnight or later, it’s hard to find the time/energy.

922736_711502162355_704919416_n

I am especially looking forward to getting back into a regular running routine. I’ve been running, but only a few miles because I just don’t have time. This summer is going to be all about the long weekend runs and bike rides!

Finally, a bit of news before I sign off. This semester I was the recipient of two awards for literature at my school!

934022_710716382065_1158892723_n

539695_708565267915_1531451406_n

 

I gave one reading two Wednesdays ago, to a room of 50 or so people. It was horrifying, very scary, and I thought I was going to collapse- but I had an incredible group of people there to support me. I am very, very fortunate, and I feel that more with each passing day.

It all feels very surreal, like it’s some kind of mistake or joke. I’m trying to let it just be validating, like what I’m doing is right, and I have enough of whatever it takes to be my version of successful in this wild and crazy world. I feel hopeful- these past two years have been a huge growing experience, and I suddenly feel as if I have potential. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that before- my future always seemed this distant, foggy thing that was just floating out there somewhere. Now, it feels like I am exactly where I am supposed to be, doing what I am meant to do. I feel like a real person, a happy person.

I’ll leave you with one final thought- and it may be the most important one of all:

62638_711573030335_408069120_n

…fiddleheads. Life is so good.

Advertisements

New York, Good Friends, and Babycakes!

As I type this, I am also spoon-feeding sweet potato and kale bisque to two stuffy-nosed cuties. The kids and I are all sick with colds- so not life-threatening, but enough to make me want to cry. This has been going on since Wednesday afternoon, but today is really the high-point. Which, I suppose, means we’ll all be feeling a little bit better by tomorrow!

Yesterday I had plans to meet my friend Viki and her sister in New York, along with her friend Martina and her daughter Sophie. I wasn’t sure if we were going to go, since we were all feeling a little under the weather, but the thought of sitting at home with two sick children and nothing to do was more than I could handle. It sounds ridiculous, but it is actually easier to take them out of the house sometimes because they’ll be entertained by whatever we’re doing- as opposed to at home, where they can get bored and fussy. So at 8 yesterday morning, we were New York-bound!

We picked Luis up first so the kids could spend some time with him before he went to work. We parked the car in the west 100’s and walked to the park to find a playground, stopping at Whole Foods along the way for some lunch and indulgent snacks.

Oh, gnosis. I am such a sucker for the Whole Foods food bars and raw chocolate that I don’t even go near either of them on normal shopping trips. Everything always looks so delicious and vegan options abound- but they are both hugely overpriced. Yesterday was a special occasion.

We noshed and played while enjoying the gorgeous weather. I am so tired of this summer’s constant oppressive heat- it was refreshing to be outside and feeling comfortable. We were all feeling a lot better being in the fresh air and sunshine.

After the playground we met up with Viki, her sister, Martina, and Sophie, and headed further into the park to find a field to lay in. Bliss!

I had met Sophie once before, while Viki was babysitting for her, but I hadn’t yet met Martina. It was sooo nice to finally meet her and Viki’s sister, catch up with Viki, and watch the kids play together! Although I spent a lot of my time digging grass out of Carolyn’s fists and mouth. Girlfriend eats EVERYTHING!

After our picnic, we said our goodbyes to Martina and Sophie and walked up to the Reservoir.

I used to run here when I lived in New York. It is one of the most beautiful places in the city. It’s funny, because the breathlessness that I feel when I look out over the reservoir is the same feeling I get driving through the farms and fields here in Pennsylvania. Two completely different places, but the same caliber of beauty in the landscape.

After a bit more strolling, we headed downtown to meet Patty for dinner and. I had a vague plan in my head for the and part of our evening, but as far as dinner, we weren’t so sure. We ended up passing a restaurant called Wild Ginger that advertised as being vegetarian, and figured it was worth a try.

Miso-mushroom soup- everything I could have ever wanted, in a bowl. The broth was light and soothing, and the mushrooms were so fresh and flavorful.

Patty got the pumpkin soup, which was equally as delicious. There were big chunks of soft, warm pumpkin sitting in a lighter peppery broth. Delish.

We also split an order of the summer rolls, which we plan on re-creating the next time Patty comes to visit. They were so light and refreshing, relying on the sauce for bold flavor- which WORKED, let me tell you. It’s a crime that these only come two to an order.

Jack got a bowl of coconut rice, which actually wasn’t very coconut-y at all, but still very good.

For my entrée, I got this delicious brown rice/veggie bowl, the name of which I can not remember. It was delightful, and simple enough that it can definitely be recreated in my own kitchen. Steamed kale, soft tofu, black seaweed, acorn squash, broccoli, carrots, and chickpeas- all over brown rice and served with a mildly spicy herb-y green dressing. Wild!

Patty got the mango salad- mango, peppers, asparagus, and sprouts all over mixed greens with a mustard dressing. The mango was perfectly ripe, and all of the greens were so fresh. These people knew what they were doing- it was vegan fare at its finest, fresh and delicious.

And now here comes the and to our evening. There is a place on Broome Street- a mythical place out of which comes some of the most delicious confections, vegan or otherwise. I hadn’t yet had an opportunity to venture down there, but when I made plans to go in yesterday, I knew there was only one person who could join me in such an experience.

My very first visit to Babycakes. It was definitely a spiritual experience- they don’t allow photographs inside the store, but I’ll tell you I spend a good few minutes taking it all in. It’s a small shop with just a few cases, but they’re filled with some of the most delicious-looking cookies, doughnuts, cupcakes, and even moonpies. It took me a while to order, but I told the girl behind the counter that it was my first time, and she was super patient and kind.

I ended up getting a gingerbread doughnut, a chocolate mint cupcake, and a cookie sandwich with chocolate chip cookies and vanilla cream. All vegan, all delicious, all gone by this morning.

Patty got a brownie and a moonpie. We shared the moonpie, the doughnut, and a cup of peppermint tea when we got back to the car. It was the perfect ending to a great day in the city.

I actually saved the cookie sandwich and the cupcake to share with Jack this morning. He was super patient waiting for me to take a picture of the cupcake (check out his little hands all folded and waiting!). He was not so patient with the cookie sandwich, so no picture of that. Whoops.

I’m so glad we went in yesterday, even though we weren’t feeling quite up to speed. I would have been so upset if Viki had gone back to L.A. and I hadn’t seen her, and spending time with Patty was like plugging myself in and recharging- I got home feeling totally wasted and sick as a dog, but better in a way. I just needed to connect for a day.

Now I’m off to wipe noses, play with Brios, and prepare for some weekend canning. I’m thinking I’ll put the huge pile of corn in my fridge to work in some sweet corn relish on Sunday 🙂