Tuesday, June 11th, 2013
In honor of Father’s Day on Sunday, book publishers released a slew of great books written by dads. This week, I’m going to focus on a few of my favorites. Like Glad to be Dad: A Call to Fatherhood by Tim J. Meyers. He’s spent years in the trenches raising two sons and a daughter. A longtime, successful writer, he is the primary caretaker while his wife works outside of the home. He’s full of hard-won wisdom–on everything from cleaning products to kids’ snacks–and conveys practical advice in his characteristically warm and witty style. At the heart of Myers’ book, he advocates for father involvement. When dads play central roles in child-rearing, the wives and children are happier and less stressed. When I read Glad to be Dad, I thought of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In. She writes about the importance of choosing a helpful partner–someone just like Myers.
Find out more about fatherhood from Myers himself. Below, he answers questions that range from household chores to Father’s Day presents. (Hint: Get this man some peanut butter cups ASAP.)
KK: Why is it so important for dads to be involved in childcare and house chores?
TM: I think family is one of the most beautiful realities in the world, but to reach its full potential, family members have to work together. Right now, though many men are superb husbands and fathers, a lot of women are doing more than their share. Which is not only unfair, but works against that life-giving unity of the family. Children also benefit profoundly from the loving attention of their fathers–of course. And the kicker is that men grow happier and wiser too!
KK: If a dad works a lot, and he doesn’t watch the kids often, what are three ways to entice him to help more?
TM: To me it’s not a matter of “enticing,” but of growing in our understanding. One way to do that is to recognize that most men face their own pressures, especially at work. Men shouldn’t get a pass on domestic commitment because of this, but we all should respect the hard work they do (and the worry that sometimes goes with it). A second way is for husband and wife to keep talking about these issues. This is especially crucial because a lot of men don’t have good models of committed fatherhood, so it’s all new to them. Third, I think families in general should value themselves more, celebrate themselves more, which will lead everyone to appreciate being with each other. The beautiful thing is to gradually make that potential a reality!
KK: What are some household chores that males might be more likely to do?
TM: I can’t speak for all men, of course, but I don’t think it’s wise to even think this way. My wife and I agreed years ago that we would value all work that goes into the family, whether it brings in money or not, whether it’s lowly or repetitive, whatever. All the work counts–picking up far-flung socks or cleaning a toilet are as worthy as bringing home a paycheck or helping kids with homework. So everyone does everything. (Though I must admit that, out of my own ignorance, I was banned from helping our kids with math).
KK: Some husbands are very involved in the daily domestic routine. What are some nice things their wives can do to tell them thank you?
TM: Let’s see…”You are one studly love-muffin, baby!” I’m always happy to hear things along those lines. And though I’m joking, I’m partly serious too, since a guy can sometimes feel less masculine under domestic circumstances. I don’t think a man should feel that way; I can’t think of anything more masculine, for example, than a full-grown man bending to a child. But there’s a tendency to associate homelife with femininity, and I know some guys won’t mind being reminded–in whatever ways–that they’re still 100 percent male.
KK: What is/was your favorite stay-at-home dad responsibility?
TM: Being able to share the astonishing miracle of life with my children hour by hour, day by day–and giving my heart to complete partnership with the woman I love.
KK: What do you want for Father’s Day?
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TM: Buy me a power tool, and I’ll send it on to Tim Allen. But I wouldn’t mind a gift card to buy music–I’ve been eyeballing some Ben Folds CDs lately. And my family knows my desperate weakness for that quintessence of edibles, glory of all deliciousness, the peanut-butter cup. A bunch of those. A whole bunch. So yep, I’m pretty easy to please.
Father's Day, fatherhood, Glad to be Dad, Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg, stay at home dad, Tim J. Myers | Categories:
Memoirs, Mom Must Read, Must Read, Parenting Advice, Q&A With Authors
Friday, June 7th, 2013
Spring is in the air along with loads of birds. The kids and I love watching these creatures and listening to them sing. Two recent children’s picture books celebrate birds, and my kids loved both of them.
Let’s Go Hugo
by Angela Dominguez
Hugo is an affable little bird guy who lives in Paris and loves to play in the park. One day he meets a cute yellow feathered friend named Lulu. She happily hangs out with him all day and then wants to go to the Eiffel Tower. The only problem–which Hugo tries to hide at first–is that he’s afraid to fly. If you have a child who’s apprehensive about anything right now, this little picture book just might make him feel better. My kids rooted for Hugo and especially loved his little French mustache.
The Eagles are Back
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by Jean Craighead George
This book covers a lot of ground. It opens with a pair of eagles who lost their baby eaglet eggs before they hatched. A little boy watches them in the field every day, and he’s very worried about the endangered American bald eagles. The story kept my kids interested even though it delivers a heady message about our nation’s great bird and protecting its environment. What reeled my readers in was the sweet story about the boy, the park ranger and the dad. The paintings–rich, emotional and timeless–expertly wrap children into this story written by the talented Jean Craighead George, a Newberry Award and Honor winner, who sadly passed away recently.
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Children's Books, Fiction, Mom Must Read, Must Read, Picture Books
Wednesday, June 5th, 2013
This morning, my kids’ elementary school canceled Field Day because our town was on black bear alert. One of these animals had been spotted at the local museum grounds. I’ve never heard of a bear attacking a tug-of-war or potato sack race, so I believe officials overreacted. Anyway, they found the poor, scared bear hiding in a tree by lunchtime. Field Day is back on for tomorrow.
A new book called Let Them Be Eaten by Bears: A Fearless Guide to Taking Our Kids into the Great Outdoors is perfect for today. I wish Montclair Public Schools would’ve consulted outdoor expert and author Peter Hoffmeister about the bear.
Hoffmeister works hard to inspire nature lovers and indoor folks alike to get more sunshine. He grew weary of hearing parents say, “With kids, we don’t get out much. It’s too hard.” So he offers well-researched reasons why families need fresh air and easy tips to get started. He says to just open the door and play in the backyard for 15 minutes, then 30 and work up to half a day. Be sure everyone—including you—takes off the shoes. “Let your kids get filthy, and get filthy yourself.” (He makes it sound so fun!) Once you’re on a regular schedule, camp out in the back yard. Or do what Hoffmeister does and take your young kids on weeks-long camping excursions in beautiful settings. His relatable writing style and first person stories—he’s also the founder of an outdoors program for high schoolers—will make you want to hop in puddles, gaze at clouds and share the wonder of nature with your children ASAP.
Thanks to his book, my kids and I have already expanded our horizons and taken local hikes. Hoffmeister is absolutely right: Children instinctively love nature. They ponder the plants and insects. And now, of course, they’re dying to spot a black bear.
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Tuesday, June 4th, 2013
Popular writer, blogger and photographer Kelle Hampton first released her beautiful memoir called Bloom last year. Recently, it came out in paperback. It’s the story of her family, including two daughters (now she has a baby boy, too), Lainey and Nella. Nella was born with Down syndrome. Kelle emphasizes the importance of not only accepting the unexpected but also embracing it as a gift. Nella is truly an inspiration to anyone who’s met her or read about her online.
I caught up with Kelle and asked her how publishing Bloom has impacted her life. She’s touched many readers through her memoir and blog. Check out what she has to say:
KK: Tell me, in three sentences, what your book is about.
KH: Bloom is the story of the first year with our daughter Nella who was born with Down syndrome. Really it’s a story about perspective–how we survive, grow and become stronger when we allow unexpected circumstances to change us. And Bloom is a reminder that sometimes it takes the most challenging events in our life to truly appreciate our families, our friendships, our own strengths and to understand how our love for our children is the most unshakeable, grounding and motivating force.
KK: You’ve received some amazing feedback from your fans. How have your readers’ reactions impacted you?
KH: I think more than anything, I’ve been really moved by the sense of community that I’ve more deeply understood through hearing from readers. Whether it’s a mom who has, like me, welcomed a child with special needs; a woman who’s faced the unexpected with other challenges such as a divorce or losing a loved one; or simply a reader who’s stepped out to say “I read your story. I cried. I know what it’s like to love your child so much it hurts,” I am constantly inspired by the way women learn from each other and support each other. There are so many ways to connect these days. Challenges can feel far less lonely than they did back in our parents’ and grandparents’ era. We’re in this together.
KK: Since the publication of Bloom you’ve had a third child. How have the lessons you’ve learned from raising Nella changed your perspective on parenting?
KH: I’ve learned to let go of ideal expectations and redefine perfection, that’s for sure. I think as parents, we don’t even realize how much we expect of our kids and often those expectations are based on our own hopes and dreams. We want our little guys to be great football players, and we imagine Mini Me’s for daughters. You can’t help but begin imagining who your child will be the moment you find out you’re pregnant. But I am continually learning to let go, to let my children show me who they are and what they love. What makes each of my children unique is what makes them perfect.
KK: Have you read any parts of Bloom to your children? What do you hope that someday they will take out of your poignant memoir?
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KH: The girls have looked through the book and pointed at pictures. I’ve told them it’s a love story and that I will read it to them someday. Lainey knows the book is dedicated to her because of how beautifully she welcomed her sister, and that’s about it for now. I dream of the day I will read it to them though. I hope through the story, they will know how much I love them and how strong and capable they are as women to face challenges. And for Nella? That will be an incredibly cathartic experience–reading Bloom to her when she’s ready. But I know that she will understand just how much of a gift her life is–how she changed me.
Thursday, May 30th, 2013
Benno and Leo Batali have grown up eating their dad, Mario’s, fine food. It’s no surprise that these two kids know their way around a kitchen and have already co-written their first food tome, The Batali Brothers Cookbook. I’m sharing it with my first grade twins who love to eat and to help. They can easily make the boys’ recipes such as Cinnamon Swirl French Toast (see the whole thing below), Sloppy Sloppy Joe’s and Blue Cheese Pocket Burgers. Mario steps in for the second half of the book to add signature family dishes like Lamb Shanks with Leeks and Grapes and Apple Fritters.
See what Benno and Leo had to say about having Mario Batali for a dad below. Scroll down a litter further for a recipe you can do with your kids tomorrow morning.
KK: How old were you when your parents let you start cooking in the kitchen? What was/were the very first dish you prepared?
BB: We’ve always cooked withour dad.
KK: A lot of moms (like me!) are hesitant to let their kids start cooking. Why is it important to stop worrying and get our children started? I know mine really want to.
BB: Once you allow kids in the kitchen, then it’s always part of the game. Our living room is our kitchen and our kitchen is our living room. It’s only natural that we help out with the cooking. Keep the knives out of reach, but otherwise, it’s goot to get them involved.
KK: If you had to choose, what’s your absolute favorite recipe in your new book?
BB: Pocket Burgers. Hands down. It’s a simple adaptation of a classic recipe. We change what’s in the pocket depending on what we find at the farmer’s market.
KK: So tell us, what’s it like having a famous chef for a father?
BB: It’s cook that Jimmy Fallon’s been to our house for Super Bowl Sunday.
Cinnamon Swirl French Toast
This is our favorite breakfast dish to eat on the weekend because it reminds us that we should be relaxing and doing what we want. When we were younger we used to eat it every weekend, but now we only have it on special occasions, so it is a real treat for us. Makes 10 slices of French toast
1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
10 slices cinnamon bread
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, plus more as needed
Maple syrup and butter, for serving
1. In a bowl, beat together the eggs, milk, cinnamon, vanilla extract and nutmeg.
2. Set a cast-iron or nonstick sauté pan over medium heat.
3. Put a couple of slices of bread in the mix. Coat each side of the bread and let it sit for half a minute to soak up the egg.
4. Put 1 tablespoon of the butter in the pan and let it melt. Put the bread into the pan and cook for 3 minutes on each side or until browned and cooked to your liking.
5. Cook the rest of the bread the same way, adding butter to the pan each time.
6. Serve hot, with maple syrup and butter.
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Benno Batali, cinnamon swirl French toast, cooking with kids, Leo Batali, Mario Batali, pocket burger, sloppy joes, The Batali Brothers Cookbook | Categories:
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