Thoughts on parenting in the U.S. + a trip to Honeysuckle Tea House

Main, North Carolina, People, Visit

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Lately it seems all the headlines I read online or in the paper sound something like: “What American parents are getting wrong” “American parenting is killing marriage” “French Kids Eat Everything” “Danish kids are the happiest in the world” and on and on.  I’ve even had articles shared with me announcing that parents these days are ruining their children, giving reasons that contradict each other. I’ve grown a bit tired of all the negativity around parenting in the U.S. and wanted to get something off my chest as I sit here looking at these photos from a rendezvous we had with one of my first “mom friends” and her adorable family. This might not be what you signed up for.  Like I’ve said more than once though, “I couldn’t help myself.”

Yes, maybe there is much to improve on, but there is one thing I believe parents in the U.S. are thriving at. From the start of your parenting journey, there is support and community in all forms and it doesn’t go away. When I had Grace two and a half years ago, I was quickly being told about “Mommy and Me” music classes, invited to baby storytimes, given pregnancy tips, added to breastfeeding support groups, baby-wearing meetups, birthing classes and basically anything baby/pregnancy/parenting related. Now, friends will even set up a meal delivery train for you so you won’t starve in those early months. This support continues well into parenting, whether it be a little comment from a stranger at a grocery store, small talk at the park or an invite to a kid’s birthday party. I hear and ask, “How are you doing?” and “How’s it going?” over and over.  Moms in this country support other moms. Even introverted moms who don’t want to get out much can find support on social media groups and have a good laugh from the endless Scary Mommy articles. Not to mention the wide range of organizations out there to help parents in need from birth and onward.

I have met, laughed and even cried a bit with moms of all ages, races, religions, sexual orientations, working, not working, older, younger, etc.  I have had some of the best conversations with moms I haven’t ever seen again, yet we happened to be at the same park that day, and we both were what each other needed, to be able to relate. I have become friends with amazing women who started out as my “mom friends” and now they are just my friends. I know that I can reach out to any one of them on any given day and they will be there, even if just to vent about something  trivial. I now look forward to getting together with them minus kids and plus lots of wine.

No job, no social status, no soul searching trip around the world, no advanced degree, no years of being a nanny and working with kids can prepare you for having your own. Some days are blissful, some are miserable. No matter what you’ve done in your life before kids, nothing will exempt you (apparently not even if you are the Duchess of Cambridge) from a teething clingy baby or an embarrassing toddler having an off day. When you have children, you are starting from ground zero and we are all in it together. You will need support whether you want to admit it or not. When they say it takes a village, it really does – parents in the U.S. get that and we take care of one another. We value the village, the tribe, and I’m glad to be raising my kids here.

Well, now that that’s off my chest, I thought I’d share a few pictures from a delightful day trip to visit the open air, seasonal Honeysuckle Tea House located in back roads Chapel Hill. If it’s any indication in the photos, we all very much enjoyed ourselves. Tea and treats for the adults, sand, swings and Locopops for the kids. I can’t even begin to describe their amazingly curated tea collection – so many I’d never even heard of before! The matcha lavender latte, the lounging in the hammocks, even with the heat and child monitoring, it all felt very Zen. It was a nice change of scenery from living smack dab in the middle of the constantly growing and developing Raleigh. Literally we are right next to a parking deck and there has been construction surrounding our neighborhood for more than a year! The Tea House on the other hand is surrounded by nature, thriving herb and flower beds, berry patches and more. They call it a pastoral oasis and it is. If you are anywhere in the Triangle area, it’s certainly worth a visit!

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Honeysuckle tea house

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Hope you enjoyed the photos! -Addie

Festive Fall Chili

Cook, Main


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What is it about the changing of the seasons, specifically fall, that feels so exciting, yet calming? Even though Grace has recently decided to go on another one of her infamous nap protests, the weather is making this a bit more bearable. We have been getting outside at every opportunity, which seems to curb both of our tiredness and allow us feeling recharged. Additionally, the windows have been open all week letting natural light in and cool air blowing through our home. Maybe that’s why for being so sleep deprived, this Grace is still as active and perky as ever.

Grace this is your mother: I actually need and enjoy a nice nap every once and a while. Plus when you nap, it allows me to do necessary things like shower.  I know… the world is too fascinating! You’re busy trying to figure out how to put your shoes on your feet and sneak over to Carly’s water bowl. You’re too determined to try to figure out how to get into the fridge and pull everything out so you can eat it. When I put you in your crib and take you away from those things, you just stand, with your little short tubby legs holding you up, peeking over in protest and curiosity. I’ve been caving more and more, telling myself you’re only a baby once. Maybe it’s teething,  or some developmental milestone. Or maybe you’re just growing up. 

 

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Luckily, while Chris was glued to the television on Saturday (from the hours of 3pm to about 11pm) watching football,  I made a huge batch of chili for us and some friends to eat off of for the week. Both Grace and I have been enjoying it tremendously. Instead of just the usual beans, tomatoes and ground beef,  I love adding squash, sweet potatoes and a ton of aromatic spices, like cinnamon and cloves for a real festive flavor.  Additionally, there are some great (albeit messy) finger foods in chili so babies can eat up. To cap off the weekend, Sunday night we enjoyed this outside in the backyard next to our first fire of the season. Grace gladly shared her meal with Carly who was torn between chili and all the pecans falling from our tree. I look forward to many more relaxing Sunday evenings like this one. Enjoy the recipe and let me know if you give it a try! -Addie

Fragrant Fall Chili:

Serves: 10+

Ingredients:

  • 3 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided use
  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 1 and 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon coco
  • 1 vidalia onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 4 small sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 2-32 ounce canned diced tomatoes
  • 2-15 ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2-15 ounce can navy beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1-15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • Water to thin

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Coat cubed butternut squash in 2 tablespoons of the oil then toss with corn meal and spread out evenly on a baking sheet. This step is not mandatory but will help the squash hold its shape in the chili rather than turning to mush and getting lost in the dish. Bake squash until tender but still holding its shape, about 25-30 minutes.
  • While squash is roasting, get the chili going. Generously season the ground beef with the spices and cook in a large soup pot on medium high heat until caramelized and brown. Your kitchen will smell divine. Once cooked through remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Keep grease in pot to serve as your cooking fat.
  • Add a little olive oil to the pot if needed, then add the onion, garlic, bell peppers and sweet potatoes. Cook until sweet potatoes begin to brown, stirring occasionally, about 20-30 minutes.
  • Next, add the diced tomatoes. the beans and the tomato sauce.
  • Fill up one to two empty cans of water and add to the chili, more or less depending on your preference.
  • Add the meat back to the pot and once finished roasting, stir in the butternut.
  • Let simmer on low for 25-30 minutes (or more if you have patience), taste and adjust the seasoning. I always end up adding more spices at the end so never know exactly how much seasoning I use. For this, I was very generous with the cinnamon, chili powder and coco. Everyone was pleased.
  • Serve with corn chips or crumbled corn bread and lots of cheese.

Happy Fall!

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Raleigh Weekend Agenda + a Thankyou

Main, North Carolina, Raleigh

Dear mom,

Thank you SO much for this swing. It has turned out to be so much more than a swing to us and I am so very grateful. It has been a reminder to slow down. It’s a reminder to get outside. It’s  a fun way to keep Grace from unpacking every single drawer and cabinet in our home. And for being such a small house, we apparently have a lot of cabinets and drawers that MUST be emptied. It’s a source of laughter. It’s been a source of observation, observing the people that pass and wave, the birds the chirp and the honey bees from next door (who make their best effort to run us off.) It’s made us spruce up our porch and I have a feeling it’s going to make fall so fun. Thank you. We love you!

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While Grace and I traveled most of the summer (you can read about a few of our adventures here, here or here), I’m looking forward to staying in one place for the next few months.  North Carolina is the ideal state to be in for fall. The state just comes to life. The leaves saturate with color, and festivals around food, music, culture and more get people outside and together on a weekly basis. Everything is perfect in fall. It’s also full of plenty of company for us and a 1st birthday next month! Read on for some things happening this weekend and a few other fun links for you.

Saturday: Hallelujah, Raleigh’s gotten themselves a Seafood Festival! What’s better is that it’s at the famous, historic Pullen Park. Happening Saturday and Sunday,we will be going to this for some blue crabs, live music and park play with Grace.

Sunday: The Triangle Food Truck scene seems to be busting at the seems. Durham, Raleigh’s neighbor and named by Southern Living, “The South’s Tastiest Town,” is hosting a Food Truck Rodeo.  Another sister town, Wake Forest, is hosting a genius community event, “Wake Forest Unplugged.” People are invited to spend an entire afternoon free of electronic devices and instead get outdoors and enjoy live music in the beautiful  Caroll Joyner Park . The fantastic Lakota John & Kinn is playing. If you’re not in Raleigh, listen here.

Monday: Labor Day is the last day of the Starring North Carolina exhibit at the NC Museum of History which is located right in downtown Raleigh. I am really hoping we can make it to see this. What do Dawson’s Creek, One Tree Hill, Homeland, Dirty Dancing, Walk to Remember and Hunger Games have in common? They were all filmed here in North Carolina. According to the NC Museum of History, North Carolina is one of the country’s leading film and television production locations. For only five bucks this exhibit sounds like a must see if you’re in town!

Lastly, here’s a few links for your weekend enjoyment:

  • Season 3 of a Chef’s Life aired this week and we are so happy. Check  your local PBS channel to see if it airs in your area. It’s full of food, family, farms and fun.
  • J Crew and New Balance collaborated on these shoes that I kind of like.
  • Honest Company is launching a makeup line and you can enter here to win it all!
  • Wondering how many of Wall Street Journal’s Fall Reading List I’ll be able to get through.
  • While we are going on our annual camping trip during this, Raleigh is hosting a big Bluegrass Fest that will take over the city.
  • Grace and I made this cake yesterday and need to pay Ocracoke a visit next summer for the Fig Festival!

Until next time and thanks for reading. Thought you all might enjoy some pictures of little bit 😉

-Addie

 

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