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07 July 2010

breakfasts around here

roasted apricots

Late morning, Sesame Street over, the deadlines looming but it's not time to work yet. Breakfast time.

We've been eating our breakfasts just after 9 around here. Lu points to the clock on the wall at 8 and says, "Street!" We cuddle on the couch together — the couch of cracker crumbs and pens between the cushions and comfort — my feet on Danny's lap, Lu sitting between us. She counts out the numbers as they appear on the screen, with this little lilting voice that knocks us out every time. We spent so much time wondering what her voice would sound like, and now here it is in the room.

We have to squint and tilt our heads sideways to see the tiny baby, all scrawny legs and ferocious cry, who arrived in our lives almost two years ago. Now, she climbs any surface that will stand still (including us, when we are patient). She swings from the bars on the playground, even the ones 10 feet up. She runs, with a purposeful stride. She is alive.

And every single time I hear that song on Sesame Street ("Sing, sing a song...") I grow teary thinking about her life, and lean down my head to kiss her cheek. (Even when it's Nathan Lane.)

Danny and I talk over her head sometimes, about the day, and the deadlines, the video we'll film the next day, friends coming to visit. Sometimes she jumps down from the couch to dance, and we join her, feet skipping on the floor. She asks me to read her a book during the cartoons — she only likes live action. Of course, she adores Elmo.

When Big Bird says Toodle Oo! and Lu waves and says thank you to him, we turn off the television and walk into the kitchen together. Lu says "Bake!" and demands the chair be shoved against the counter. (All kitchen activities are baking to her.) We cook the quinoa, sliver the prosciutto, or dollop out yogurt and plop in raspberries from the garden. It's one of the few times we three are all together, in the kitchen. It's lovely.

The other morning, gloomy and grey as it had been for weeks, I noticed the apricots going soft on the counter. My parents brought a big container of them from Costco, for Lu to eat. She didn't care that they weren't perfectly ripe, or in season. She loved the sweetness on her lips. Not wanting to waste them, I sliced them into halves ("Circle!" Lu pointed.), drizzled them with honey, and tossed on some fresh tarragon. Into the oven they went until they sagged and slumped against each other, juices oozing.

Later, they made the best accompaniment to a small bowl of cold yogurt I have yet eaten.

The bright color of these roasted apricots was such a comfort against the continuous grey sky, when it seemed it would never be summer.

Lucy, after picking raspberries and eating waffles

Then, yesterday, just as everyone predicted, it turned into summer. Summer in Seattle starts after the 4th of July.

Yesterday, Lu and I gathered raspberries, strawberries, and red currants from the garden, while Danny put together a waffle batter. Danny simmered the berries slowly into a compote. We moved everything onto the porch. Look at this photo. Need I say more?

Our lives aren't perfect. In fact, it has felt a little like this perpetual winter we've been having inside my brain as well. I have too much on my plate and I am full. Deadlines pile up and no matter how hard I work I can never get it all done. Emails to be answered and trips to plan, plus a look at the bank account, roam through my mind at 3 am. There are always dishes to do. No matter how many times I run the washing machine, the laundry mound still grows. (We don't have that many clothes, and most of them need replacing. Where does all this laundry come from?) As hard as I try, I can't entirely wrap my mind around the fact that the house is always going to be cluttered with a toddler here.

Yesterday, I finally had the joy of hanging out with my friend Molly, whose poise and strange sense of humor always inspire me. In the couple of hours we saw each other, Lu went into the wading pool without a swim diaper (oh, the piteous cries when I told her we had to go. "Wa wa! Wa wa!") and I didn't have any dry ones in the car. We walked through the drugstore with a sopping wet child. Poor Molly had to nestle her feet among the coffee cups on the floor of the car that Danny keeps forgetting to bring inside the house. The bag of tortilla chips I brought for us to eat tore in half and spilled on the ground at the park. Some of the broken crackers landed in the pool of white bean hummus that had erupted out of the package and onto the bottom of my purse.

Sometimes I dream of a life as clean and expansive as this photo Molly took.

But then, I look at this photo of Lu eating breakfast on the porch, raspberries on her face and her feet on the table. And I laugh, again. I'll take the clutter, the hummus on the bottom of my purse, the imperfection and dishes to be done.

I'll accept it all, arms wide open, if breakfast looks like this.


At 1:38 PM, Blogger Jenn Sutherland said...

Mmm, yes. I think if we all took the time to have a good breakfast - together, our lives would be much better. Dinner comes at the frantic end of a day and much can go wrong (or right) between the day's beginning and end...but breakfast - that's always been my favorite meal. Anything is possible at the beginning of the day - slumping apricots and smiling toddlers with berry strewn faces. Let us all have a LOT more summer, and let the sunshine bathe us as we forget those untidy corners.

At 1:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dearest Shauna,
Take it from one who knows, someday you will be missing the chaos. I know you know that though. Thanks for posting the picture of Lu with her feet on the table. Oh my, what a wonderful kid : ) Remember to breathe.

At 1:48 PM, Blogger Megan said...

If you've not already considered it you might think of getting one of these for her

My kitchen isn't large enough for it but others that I know who own it love it.

At 2:42 PM, Blogger Cathi said...

Enjoy each moment (which I know you are) clutter and all, as they slip by so fast. My babies are 29 & 19 now and it seems like yesterday that they were Lu's age! xxoo :)

At 2:43 PM, Anonymous Lisa said...

All of a sudden your child will be in High School and you'll pine for the days when things were simpler (I know hummus in the purse does not seem simple now!). I miss naps and snacks and outings.

But on the other hand, now that my kids are older, we talk a lot about what are they going to be, real life dreams, solid friends and trips in airplanes.


P.S. love pictures of Lu...she is so adorable!!!!

At 3:10 PM, Anonymous laura said...


Well said! Thank you for this lovely post. Speaking of lingering items on the never ending to do list (you know everyone's got one), I WILL email you this week. And, speaking of breakfast, lately I've been popping amaranth like nobody's business. Fantastic.


p.s. That photo of Lucy is adorable. Simply adorable.

At 3:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a lovely family you both have. Lu is absolutely beautiful. Thank you once again for sharing with such simple grace your regular thoughts and occurrences...And those apricots have me salivating now. :)

At 4:36 PM, Anonymous Georgia Pellegrini said...

I like a similar breakfast of honey-roasted bananas, mashed into greek yogurt -- absolutely delicious and completely satisfying.

At 4:56 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Shauna-
Thank you for your post. I feel like my house is the set for the show "romper room." But my 3.5 yr. old son is the light of our lives. Toys be damned, it's really all about the joy of raising a child and not the chores. As we adopted our son at birth after years of failed tries of the medical kind, I find that each and every day I am filled with gratitude that he is in our lives. Never take ANYTHING for granted.

At 5:10 PM, Blogger I Am Gluten Free said...

Into the oven they went until they sagged and slumped against each other, juices oozing.Could your writing be more lovely? I think not.

Twenty-eight years have disappeared in front of my eyes, and now I am a grandmother. Where did it go? It's all good. Breathe it in.

At 6:03 PM, Blogger Meagan said...

I'm noticing your beautiful cast iron pan. I would love to see a post about caring for cast iron and all the stuff that goes along with it, if you'd ever care to lend your advice!

At 7:55 PM, Anonymous heather said...

You just opened a window into your home, and in such an intimate way that while reading I felt like I was eavesdropping. Thank you. Beautiful post.

At 8:08 PM, Blogger Trysha said...

I love it! It may not be a "perfect" life, but it's a life well lived.

At 8:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all, your writing is incredible. You have such a way with words! And this post comes at such an amazing time. I had a horrible day, my 4yo son and I argued and faught all day it seems, yet at the end of the day, he was full of sweetness and smiles that melt my heart everytime. Between that and your post, it makes me realize I need to stop sweating the small stuff and enjoy every little moment, because it's going to go by before I know it.

And your daughter's berry covered face is adorable!

At 8:26 PM, Blogger Tara Barker said...

Oh, Shauna, that made me cry. Not sure what that says about my state of mind right now, but there you have it . . . I so admire the effort you put into writing for this site when you clearly have other pressing deadlines in your life! Thank you!

At 9:41 PM, Blogger Ellemay said...

I love the raspberry smears.

At 5:31 AM, Blogger amy said...

What fun they are and how fast they grow! Enjoy those little moments while they are so perfect.

:) + your apricots looks fabulous!

At 7:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone very important once said, "If I had it to do all over again, I'd put out the good china and good linens and I'd use them. I'd sit in the grass with my white pants on and I'd enjoy every moment." Irma Bombeck

I may not have her exact words but the meaning is there. Those chores...most will wait until tomorrow. Shauna, that photo of your precious, vivacious little one is worth everything. You'll never regret taking the time to make the memories happen.

Living life to the fullest... That's what it's all about. Thank you for such a wonderful place to go to on my computer every day.


At 8:34 AM, Blogger Paula said...

I`ve never eaten apricots for breakfast! It must be so tasty :)

At 11:00 AM, Blogger Gina Perry said...

Another beautiful post - I admit, I've never eaten an apricot. But it will be yet another thing to share with my 1.5 yr old son - firsts for both of us. We went strawberry picking for the first time too. These are joyous but messy times for all mommies. I'm wishing you a little serenity - especially at 3am, when we should all be fast asleep, preparing for our busy summer days.

At 11:46 AM, Anonymous Dana said...

Oh Shauna. So lovely as always. It is to yours and Danny's immense credit that you have so many moments of celebration with Lu. I feel as though I am trying to rush my kids through the day more often than just enjoying them. Good for you for embracing the chaos and having a sense of humor about it.

At 11:53 AM, Anonymous heather @ chiknpastry said...


At 12:11 PM, Blogger Lib Stewart said...

Saw this quote a few days ago and it seems appropriate.

Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, savour you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it will not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky, and want, more than all the world, your return.
- Mary Jean Irion

At 4:08 PM, Anonymous Melissa P. said...

Wow, your posts sounded like things I sweat too with a 4y.old daughter...always having dishes and laundry to do (we have the perpetual "clean" pile of clothes on the couch that never gets folded and to the drawers) and I don't even want to imagine the things that end up in our backseat or bottom of my purse most the time. Just to say you're not alone in this crazy world and those who have posted how fast it slips are sooo right. I noticed that just from 2 to 4--FLEW BY. Anyway, thanks for the fabulous post!

At 4:36 PM, Anonymous abbie said...

that picture is simply fabulous! feet on the table is one of my peeves, but I'd give it up to see my little ones wear that much pleasure on their faces. simply precious.

At 5:06 PM, Blogger Shae said...

Mesmerizing, poignant reflection. I'm glad your summer has started. Summer on Vashon is glorious!

At 4:42 AM, Blogger Birdie said...

lol Shauna, I can relate but I'm (all the same as you are ;-) very well aware the most important is the little one no matter how much chaos it brings with it :-) the pictures are beautiful so is your little Lu :-)

At 11:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for re-framing the pile of stuff on the floor from our camping trip last week, the dishes piled in the kitchen and on the table, the toys scattered all over the rec (wreck) room, and the crumbs and crayons and papers strewn around my car. My life is full and blessed, too. You've written yet another post that's brought tears to my eyes.

At 12:20 PM, Blogger thenewstead6 said...

Yep, that pretty much sums it up - I can sooo relate! This evening I planned a lovely French inspired meal based around gluten free buckwheat pancakes. However I scalded the milk because I had to run the length of the house to sit a 3 year old who has just potty trained on the pot before he did a No 2 everywhere. Then I dropped a fresh egg on the living room floor (carpet) when I rushed back in to wipe his bottom as he was by then prancing around the room... still, finally, the batter got made - too late for dinner but it is in the fridge ready to be used as a wrapping for garlic mushrooms (with parmesan) for supper once the 4 kids are all in bed. It is all, on balance, worth it. The same 3 year old whose face lit up and spluttered with a full mouth "this is YUMMY mummy" when I made him a fresh lunch of sauted onion, garlic, bacon, fresh tomatoes, and cream and served on new potatoes straight from the garden. Every morning he wakes me up "good morning mummy" at 5am when he climbs in bed - and goes straight back to sleep of course, whilst I lay there and think of all the things I could be getting on with if only I got up... it's all good! (especially with hindsight!)

At 7:23 AM, Anonymous molly said...

Oh, Shauna. I was so drunk on the idea of those apricots, I almost didn't click through. But as always, there's so much more on the other end. Life with kids is such an imperfect, upside, other-worldly existence. It's never done, there's always more work, and it doesn't get any better. I'm sure of it. Hang in there, Molly

At 9:10 AM, Anonymous Sho said...


Do you realize that your writing style is addictive? I am awaiting a novel from you.

You know, I am wondering how many people are relocating to Vashon from reading about it on your blog.

Take care,


At 5:51 PM, Blogger SKIP TO MALOU said...

Savor these moments as time flies so fast. Your words are so descriptive I could imagine you three in your living room... and yeah this post reminded me that today at the park, I was watching a young mom with her tots and wishing my kids are that young all over again. My husband came to me and said: "don't worry will have grandkids soon" then I realized that my oldest daughter is now 22 y/o and yeah he's right sooner or later we will have grandkids soon...

mmm being in my early forties, yeah ill be the coolest grandma, LOL!

Thanks for giving us a peek into your lives... it always makes me feel that LIFE is indeed BEAUTIFUL!

At 10:16 PM, Anonymous Melissa@The Hard Times Kitchen said...

Mmmmm, roasted apricots! I would never have thought of that, but it sounds soooo good. I think I will try roasting some fruit to mix into my breakfast yogurt this week.

It's so very easy to be overwhelmed with our busy lives. I do it all of the time lately. I was reminded of a beautiful quote today that sums it all up for me: "Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life." -Omar Khayyam

So true - it just doesn't get any better than this!

At 11:02 PM, Blogger Reese said...

I love hearing you talk about your daughter... I also have a 2 1/2 year old girl, complete with crumbs in the couch cover and dancing feet. I agree the most amazing thing is watching them grow.

The apricots sound DIVINE btw

At 6:52 AM, Anonymous carol said...

lu looks berrylicious!!! love that shot of her, feet on the table in absolute bliss...and those apricots! only these could make something *sagging* sound so good & appealing!! ;-) love how your share life, its what it is & how wonderful that you guys live it so richly... cheers!

At 11:17 AM, Blogger BadKitty said...

Just wanted to let you know, I really appreciate all your posts over here in Michigan. So thank you for spending the time to write and share. You were the first book I read regarding this new life, and found you to be funny, honest, and real. Both myself and my 16 month old need to be gluten free. you have made both our lives more enjoyable and practicle. Thanks for letting us invite you into our family. Bravo, and thank you for your funny honesty and a chance to look into your life!

At 3:12 PM, Blogger Cove Girl said...

I'm wondering what I did wrong, because last night I decided to try and do the same thing with my apricots, but instead they turned out sour (think apricot War Head). While that might be a fun and interesting new flavor for the candy it wasn't so much for what i wanted to be my desert for last night. Any help you could offer would be appreciated so I can avoid this the next time around.

At 4:43 PM, Blogger Wendy Sue Swanson said...

Delicious. Breakfast with little ones really is heaven (feet on the table, messy hands to boot). Especially when framed by fruit. Thanks for the sweet and open post. And to getting ourselves to that big, clean, open place amidst the chaos of raising kids...

At 8:16 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I agree with Meagan--I would love to see more done with your cast iron pan! Lately it seems like all my friends are throwing out their non-stick pans in favor of cast iron, but they're not sure how to care for them. The best tutorial I found was "Using a cast iron skillet ain't so hard!" at


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