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Now that summer vacation is here, just call me “Ooh-Mommy Girl.” Say it loudly enough, and I might even be able to hear you over the roaring cacophony of little voices. Some thoughts on work-life balance from inside the belly of the beast.

Work Life Balance Addie with Duck 780 | Umami Girl
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Things no one tells you: the work-life balance skills you’re building now will make you an absolute superhero when the life side of things calms down a bit.

NOT consecutively

One of the first bits of wisdom I read today was a friend’s status update on Facebook: “Tara was able to work out for nine minutes this morning. NOT consecutively.” Tara, as you may have guessed, is a mom. She is also an award-winning runner.

All bets are off

I read her update with the baby literally strapped to my chest, about to head out to drop off the preschooler for the last day of sanity, known to some as the last day of school. Although I went on to deposit the baby at the excellent gym daycare facility, thereby scoring an entire hour of narcissism for myself, the power of Tara’s message did not dissipate in the slightest. If I’ve learned one thing this past year, it’s that all bets are off when you’re outnumbered by your children.

Cuteness, but mostly chaos

Further, subverting logic (or at least my sometimes tenuous grasp of it), while the amount of disruption created bears a direct relationship to the number of children involved (and thus the total aggregate body mass of the children), it has — if anything — an inverse relationship with the body mass of each individual child. That is, the more but the smaller the babies, the bigger the impact. In a word, it’s chaos. Cuteness, to be sure, but mostly chaos.


Lest you think I exaggerate, consider the fact that, amidst a wave of new words and sounds these past few weeks, the baby has taken to calling me “bitch.” Or possibly “bletch.” Either way, it’s pretty jarring — although she seems to take it in stride.

Joined at the hip for generations

Many of the preschooler’s friends, namely those with smart, organized parents, are off to full-day camps this summer. As for our own family — well, that’s not really how we roll. Not that I would’ve had any choice in the matter, since the preschooler has informed me on multiple occasions that she does not intend to ride a bus without me. Not anywhere. Not ever.

I can’t much blame her, since she’s only four — the age at which, when informed by my own mother that she would like some privacy in the bathroom, I obediently entered the room and closed the door.

All about babies

So. For better and, at times, for worse, tomorrow begins the season that is All About the Babies.

In times like these, a girl needs a lot from her food. She needs it to keep her strength up, certainly. And in equal measure, she also needs it to comfort.

All about farro

People in Italy must have been feeling this way for many centuries, because tucked away among numerous examples of their cultural superiority, they have hidden a little, semi-pearled coping mechanism called farro.

Formerly only available for purchase in this country at Medicare offices in Italian-American neighborhoods (that’s my theory, at least), farro, also known as emmer wheat, is now fairly widely sold.

It is a kinder, gentler grain, particularly in the semi-pearled form you’ll typically find here. I can’t think of a better way to fuel your body for crawling around on the floor picking small bits of rug fiber out of a baby’s mouth while “negotiating” a TV-watching schedule with a four-year-old.

It’s not everything, but I’ll take it.

Talk to you soon.

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Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

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  1. MomVee, I don’t know about that CSA of yours. Eight pea-sized peas and no beets or carrots? That’s a little how we feel about the meat CSA so far. Man, those three bites of lamb chop were delicious. How are you handling it with your family of six? Cooking short ribs, lamb burgers and pork chops all on the same night?

    Kalyn, we need more farro fans in this world. Let’s get the word out.

    Maggie, thanks! You’re not the only one. The entire nation of France agrees with you, from what I’ve heard. They sell their beets roasted and vacuum packed. Whole Foods does now, too.

  2. Your photos make healthful, hearty meals look pretty glamorous….am I the only one who doesn’t have the patience to roast beets? I just hate turning on the oven, using gas, etc for a few little guys…maybe i should do a big batch and eat them for awhile. Sometimes I just chop them up raw and saute…