Name: Kim Tracy Prince
Web Site: http://www.kimtracyprince.com/about-me/
Bio: I am a writer. Most of my material is on the web, but the best stuff is still in my journal under the bed.
Posts by ktprince:
Because I am raising my own little family far away from other relatives, I work hard to uphold holiday traditions that everyone in my house enjoys. One of them is Christmas morning breakfast – I always bake an apple puffed pancake like my mother did when I was growing up. It’s more work than pouring some cereal and milk into bowls, but the house gets filled with the aroma of baking apples and butter, and the payoff is delicious. I headed to Smart & Final to stock up on the ingredients for this recipe.
The key element is granny smith apples – and the produce at Smart & Final is always fresh and colorful. Prices are great and leave room for a little something extra to add a festive flair. I like to keep it simple because my kids are so boisterous and likely to knock over pretty things. I always forget how beautiful apples can be, and how simply they make your table look beautiful.
I usually start making breakfast right after the children open their presents – they play with their new toys while I am cooking, and then we all gather at the table, flush with Christmas morning joy. This whole project takes about 45 minutes but you can prep some items ahead of time to make it go faster.
Apple Puffed Pancake
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup flour
3 tbs sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 lb butter
2-3 tbs brown sugar
Preheat oven to 425. In a blender or large bowl, mix eggs, milk, flour, sugar, vanilla, salt and cinnamon till blended. If using a mixer, batter will remain slightly lumpy. Set aside.
Peel apples and slice them thinly. I never bother to core them. Thinner slices are better because they allow the apples to cook through.
Melt butter in a 12″ fluted porcelain quiche dish or a 13×9 baking dish in oven. Add apple slices to baking dish and stir to coat with melted butter. Return to oven until butter sizzles. Do not let brown.
Remove dish from oven and immediately pour batter over apples. Sprinkle with brown sugar.
Bake in middle of oven 20 minutes or until puffed and brown. The pancake will puff up over the edges of the dish – it will settle down by the time you get it to the table, so make sure you call the kids over to see it when you pull it out of the oven!
Serve immediately with maple syrup, crispy bacon and berries.
Store leftovers (if any) in sealed containers in the refrigerator. Pancake warms up well in the microwave and makes a great late-night snack!
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup flour
3 tbs sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 lb butter
2 apples, peeled & thinly sliced
2-3 tbs brown sugar
Preheat oven to 425. In a blender or large bowl, mix eggs, milk, flour, sugar, vanilla, salt and cinnamon till blended. If using a mixer, batter will remain slightly lumpy. Melt butter in a 12″ fluted porcelain quiche dish or a 13×9 baking dish in oven. Add apple slices to baking dish. Return to oven until butter sizzles. Do not let brown. Remove dish from oven and immediately pour batter over apples. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake in middle of oven 20 minutes or until puffed and brown.
I’m going celebrate my little life.
I’m going to be proud of trying to be a good mother. Trying to be a good housekeeper, a good wife, a good PTA president, a good member of my community, a good writer, a good daughter, sister, friend. (What else am I? I try to be good at all of those other things too.)
Here’s what I did today: PTA meeting, another PTA meeting, return ill-fitting children’s clothes at TJ Maxx, pick up flag football uniforms, send 1,000 emails, drafted a blog post, made two content creation deals, 2 loads of laundry, put out Christmas decorations, fed the kids a snack, drove the kids to flag football practice, cold-called a local bank for a PTA donation, cleaned the kitchen, made the beds.
It looks quite like any other day. Unless it’s a weekend. Then there’s much more togetherness with the kids and husband. So much more.
It’s not big. It’s not glamorous. I do get little splashes of adventure and glamor and excitement here and there, but otherwise that’s my life.
I fill out permission slips. I put the kids’ projects on my to-do list. I make sure they get to school on time, in (mostly) intact outfits. I make their lunches and drop them off at school if they forget.
I also love them very much.
Here’s why I’m telling you this. There are many very popular blogs and other websites that celebrate the slacker parent. “We’re imperfect!” they cry. “We suck at this!” Or worse “My kids are assholes!” or “Here are a ton of pictures of kids in embarrassing situations!” And people laugh and you think it’s funny because it’s not you.
I’m kind of over it. It’s a backlash against the backlash against good parenting.
I get it – it’s irreverent and funny and if you can’t make fun of yourself you will go crazy. I’ve also made fun of the perfect photo-spread-worthy birthday parties and the Pinterest boards and the Hallmark-card-ready family stories. But that doesn’t mean I have to swing far in the other direction, smugly declaring how much of a slacker I am, to make myself feel better.
I can feel good about my pathetic attempts at crafty projects because at least I tried. I can feel good about choosing to stay home with my children instead of running a network show and juggling work/life balance. I can be proud of making dinner most nights and wanting the kids to eat more vegetables.
A few weeks ago a friend texted me. “What do you call those people who look past you when they find out you’re a stay at home mom, like you have nothing to offer to the conversation?” she asked.
“Douchebags,” I answered. I didn’t know there was a term for them. Maybe that’s the one.
A lot of us feel like we have to justify our choices or make fun of them. I’m over that too. Can’t this just be my life? Can’t I just have this, without forming an argument in support of it?
Go ahead, argue with me. I’m not even going to engage. Because that’s the experiment: I’m just being proud of who I am and what I do, instead of feeling inferior because this other woman works and is a great mom, or she runs a business and is a great mom, or she is a celebrated artist and is a great mom.
Right now that’s my gig, man. I’m a mom. And I’m doing the best I can. That’s something to be proud of. Anything else I accomplish is icing on the cake.
Because this is my little life. I know I’m not changing the world.
Or maybe I am.
She enters the room every day. Most days, she sits down and writes. Some days, when there is more activity in the house, she perches on the edge of the chair, pushes around a thing or two, and then gets up and leaves, returning after dark, after all else is quiet.
While the computer is booting up, or rebooting, she puts all the things away. Pencils and pens in their cups. Lip balm, baseball hat, rolled up socks in the bedroom. Papers in the in-box, or the receipt box, or the recycle bag. Handbags hung in the closet. Notebooks and calendars spiraled closed, stacked on the bright red bench meant for visitors, children to sit, stay a spell.
Nobody ever really stays a spell because this is her space. She turns when you enter, “What do you want?” written on her face but a softer tone in her voice.
When everything is in its place, she pops her headphones in, turns up the speaker, and dives in. One moment she’s in another world, eyes glazed over, fingers flying over the keys, tap-tapping a rhythm that her children hear as they fall asleep – the clacking forms a tuneless song and drifts on the air down the hallway. Another moment, she’s lost, resting her head in her hands, twirling her hair into clouds and tangles, listening to the music, wanting the words to be brilliant, knowing they’re not, hating them.
And then it’s back again and she’s on fire, and the words are flowing out of her, and she’s not a suburban mother of two who just got back from a sweaty last-minute trip to the grocery store because she forgot to buy the rolls for dinner. She’s a spirit on the air flying high above the world, watching what everyone in it is doing, and writing it all down.
Luxury? Ha! The working spouse is hardly putting his feet up, watching the game and drinking a beer with his buddies. Neither is the stay-at-home parent. The only luxury of having a stay-at-home-mom is felt by the children. And that’s how it should be. One dad responds to the whole “the stay-at-home spouse is a luxury to the working parent” concept, below.
Having had my kids in school – all day! – for over a year now, I’ve relaxed a bit about being super productive with every possible minute of my kid-free time. I still have the overarching sentiment that I must do things during school hours that I can’t do when they are at home. Things like writing, exercising, meeting with colleagues or friends. I save housework, for the most part, for when they are here, because I naturally do that while I am supervising homework or reading time or play dates.
You know what else I can do while my boys are at school? I can take a nap. Or see the doctor. Or get my hair done.
Yes, those things are luxuries. But it’s not like I do them every day. And if I was working full time out of the house, guess when I would do them? On the weekends, or at the expense of my work, or while a hired babysitter is with the children. There’s a tradeoff no matter when I take a moment for myself.
All the ladies writing now about motherhood and parenting and stay at home vs. working are saying the same things we said five years ago and even farther back, and I’m sure that when we wrote those posts in the Early Internet Age, we were repeating the same struggles that women who came before us did, but using more current technology. It’s the same old story.
One thing that has changed, however, is that more men are talking about it, writing about it, and discussing it amongst themselves. It’s no longer just us housewives or “working moms” who wring our hands and shake our heads in resignation – we can discuss the work/life balance conundrum with our husbands or friends or male colleagues who are fathers. In fact, it was the dad of a traditional-model family (dad works at an office, mom is in charge of the house and kids all day while he is gone, dad feel overworked and pressured, mom teeters between exasperation and extreme gratitude) who sent me the link to this article, which was a reaction to this article, and while the public’s reaction to both was off the mark, I understand what the writers’ points are. They’re new to this gig, which is a struggle. They realize that parenting is easier with a partner, one who picks up the slack where you can’t reach to catch it yourself. But you dangle the word “luxury” out in front of a readership that is supercharged for controversy over working/parenthood, and you create a lovely little internet firestorm for yourself. Well played, newcomers.
I urge readers not to take the bait. Parenting is hard no matter how you do it. The only people who are lounging around in “luxury” are the children, because that’s the whole point.
You all know how I feel about this issue: make your own choices. Find what works best for you and your family. If others criticize you, they can suck it. But I found my friend’s response, the perspective of the working dad responsible for financially supporting a family of five, refreshing, insightful, and heartwarming. He gave me permission to share it here.
Reaction to the “Luxury” Article, by Chris Tjaden:
I think what frosts Elena’s cookies the most is the notion that her sacrifices of being a stay-at-home mom in some way provides a luxury for me. That it enables me to work late when I want have to, travel when I want have to, and render her utterly powerless under the demands of my job. Or as she may question, my abilities to control my own time & my ‘desires’ to conveniently avoid coming home. All very valid questions that I want to reassure are totally not true.
- We are living far from home (and therefore family & friends support) and are constantly reminded of what we don’t have by friends who conveniently have parents come over to cover the kids on a whim. I am sure you can relate.
- We are in the throes of [caring for three] very demanding, and still dependent, children.
- We are extremely money-strapped…something that we are trying to come to grips with.
- Finally, is the issue of Elena’s dealing with some substantially extraordinary health issues.
- Time: because of all that she does, we have the luxury of our weekends. Sure there’s the growing chaos of shuttling kids to activities, but we actually can spend time together as a family (whether it’s going apple–picking, or simply being with the kids in the driveway).
- Sanity: because she stays home, we avoid the “awake at 5am so we can get ourselves and the kids out the door” phenomenon that comes with working. We avoid the evening mad dash of figuring what to make for dinner/making dinner/getting the kids in bath & bed that has to fit within the 2hr time frame of 6-8pm. And then the ensuing clean the kitchen/do the laundry/get lunches made/pull-out outfits for the next day that follows.
- Complexity: We avoid the negotiations of who can take time off when one of them is sick or needs to go to the doctor, or what to do if and when my job requires me to stay late or travel. Not to mention the lost weekends between having to squeeze in a week’s worth of chores & shopping, while trying to spend quality time with our kids, whom neither of us has seen during the course of the week. All very real issues.
- And this would go on, if I had a longer lunch break (which I rarely take)
Photo by Michal Zacharzewski
Writing is the art that I love. Obvs. I am comfortable spitting words out on a blank sheet of paper, a blank composition window, a bright white new document in word processing software. Even collections of words that are, at first, meaningless to anyone but myself. Or even meaningless to me. (There is always CTRL-Z.)
I also really love music – the music itself moves me but when there’s a particularly clever lyric well then I’m done. Stick a fork in me. I don’t spend a lot of time discovering new music much anymore but Pandora and Spotify and YouTube have helped me in that department.
Last week I started something rather foolish, for a woman whose time is maxed out. I joined NaNoWriMo and typed the first 1700 words of a novel on Saturday morning. And then I wrote about 1800 more the next day. And I have been doing that every day since. In fact I just wrote 1688 more tonight, even though when I sat down to work tonight I had no idea what I would write next.
Forcing myself to work on this, to push the story forward, to explore what the characters will do, to live in this world – it puts me into an unknown mood. I’m not used to writing fiction. It feels closest to the times when I was young and studying, immersed in learning. It’s not like getting lost in a good novel that someone else has written. This is a world I am researching but the files are inside my head.
This writing makes me contemplative and puts me in a dark mood. The story takes place in the afterlife, which I don’t even really believe in most days, and I get lost in figuring it out.
To counter the gloomy mood, I did a few things this week that I don’t normal do. Three, to be exact:
I created a painting.
I went out dancing.
I attended a poetry reading.
Only two of the three would surprise people who have known me for a long time. I love to dance. I have danced alone and with one person and with ten people and with thousands, but if you like to go out dancing you might agree that the right vibe has to be in place. Sometimes alcohol helps, and certainly the right music has to be playing. I got lucky Saturday night and joined a group of liquored-up ladies with a designated driver by my side, so I was free to indulge and get lost in the music. The excursion was an unexpected success because the nightclub was in Westlake Village, a tony suburb near where I live, not a place you’d normally find a bouncer/velvet rope/cover charge type of club. But there it was.
The surprises are the art and poetry.
I made this painting on Thursday night at a Mom’s Night Out that some of my colleagues produced for a fun event to raise awareness and collect supplies for charities that help children in hospitals. I had no idea what to expect except that there would be wine, and that was good enough for me. My friend Elizabeth came along and the two of us sat in the corner (“Nobody puts Baby in the corner,” I joked but we stayed there anyway) following directions, more or less, and the end result makes me so proud I love to look at it and show people and say “I made this!” Who knew?
And then the third event in this artistic trifecta was the poetry reading I attended yesterday. My friend and sometimes writing partner Deborah is a poet. “I don’t get poetry,” I confessed to her once, in much the same vein as I say I don’t like art, and when I say “like” I mean I don’t understand it, I just know what I think is pleasing to the eye, but I don’t always know why. But Deborah has just been published in a poetry anthology called Beyond the Lyric Moment, and I love her, so I drove across town and self-consciously took a seat in a hall attached to a church and sipped my peppermint tea and opened my mind thinking “Bring it, poets.”
And the poets brought it.
I compared the experience to a friend later. I said it was like each poet (and there were at least two dozen of them) read a poem that was a small piece of rich, nuanced fudge, so delicious that you moan with pleasure when you take a bite, or with such odd combinations of flavor that you cock your head and try to identify them – is that cinnamon? Jalapeno? And after five or six bites you are sated, filled up with rich chocolate and curious tastes, that it’s time for a cleansing glass of water or a deep inhalation of the scent coffee beans, to clear the palate and your head. Additional fudge is lost on your overstimulated tongue.
I was prepared to not get the poetry, but I was moved by the speakers’ words, their tiny stories, their emotion. Some of them had clearly practiced the cadence of poetry reading, and I had to close my eyes or look away so I would not be distracted by their subtle, or not so, theatrics. My own Deborah’s understated reading was elegant and spun a clear scene of complicated emotions and dying flowers. I was there with her, with the poet whose car crashed in a field, with the man mourning a lost friend, with the woman who planted a garden to attract angels.
I bought the book. I want to see if the words on the page move me like the performances did, or in a different way.
The bottom line is that all this art and poetry and music and movement out of my comfort zone – the one in which I am dressed in lounge pants and an oversized T-shirt, snuggled in my bed reading a novel or watching The Big Bang Theory, transported, saved for a moment from my own restless brain – this departure from what comes easily has helped me remember that I am capable of adventure, however suburban and contained it must be for now. Stories can come from infinite distances within, after all. The little tornadoes inside me can manifest through the keyboard, where I can be 21 again, jumping up and down on the dance floor without worrying that I’ll pee in my Spanx.