By Cassie Johnston
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If you and I were to sit down for a coffee date, I’d definitely order a cucumber lemonade (that’s a thing at our local coffee shop, I hope they have it on the menu at this place, too). I’m all about the cold drinks right now because it is SO HOT OUTSIDE.
Summer showed up on our doorstep last week, kicked in the door, and then punched us in the face with brass knuckles. How did you manage to ride your bike to the coffee shop without getting all sweaty? You’re like a wizard or something.
Speaking of the heat, I’d tell you that we bought a new swimming pool for Juniper’s birthday. Our old pool was getting up in years and was costing more to maintain than it was worth, plus, we really wanted to get something shallower so Juni felt more comfortable (and we did, too) while she was learning to swim. We ended up ordering this pool, and ohmygosh, it is AMAZING. I doubt it’ll last more than a few summers, but it’s just the perfect size for our little nugget.
You stop me and say, “Whoa. Wait. Juni’s birthday?” and I probably start crying while I remind you that my little, tiny, squishy baby turns TWO YEARS OLD on Monday. TWO! I know I’m a big, fat cliche, but how in the hell did that happen? Where did the time go?
Because you were such a great friend and came to Juni’s first birthday party last year (and brought an awesome gift—you’re so sweet), you’d ask what we were doing for the big 0-2. I’d tell you that we’re going party-less this year. Juni won’t care—this might be the last year that she won’t mind—and because of how her birthday falls right around Father’s Day, it would be so inconvenient for folks to come, anyway.
You’re sweet and empathetic, so you say, “awwwwww” and look me with pity because you think it’s a bummer that Juni isn’t getting a party. I assure you that it’s totally not sad at all! We actually have a fun weekend trip planned that involves children’s museums and zoos and aquariums and gifts and cake and ice cream. She’ll get to spend three straight days with her two favorite people looking at animals and eating sweets. Don’t worry, Juni will be adequately spoiled—just not in party form.
Because it seems to be the question everyone wants to ask when your kid hits two years old, you’d then ask me if we plan on having any more kids. The answer is a firm “no.” Both Craig and I have been in the one-and-done mindset since I was pregnant, and we haven’t really wavered since.
People keep telling me “you just wait, you’ll totally want more,” but it hasn’t happened yet. The thought of going through another pregnancy or having another baby in the house just doesn’t seem right for us (so much so, when friends announce they are pregnant with a second, third, fourth, etc. kid, my first thought is, “That’s surprising.” And then, “Oh wait, no it isn’t, most people have more than one kid.”).
If a surprise happens, of course we’ll be happy, but I feel like our family unit is complete just the way it is, and I would be thrilled to go through life as a mom of an only. Of course, we reserve the right to change our mind, because—hello, our business—but I really don’t see that happening.
You have the memory of an elephant and then ask me what I’m doing for my birthday. I can’t believe you remembered that my birthday is the day before Juni’s! Well, we’re going to be on our road trip, and I asked for exactly one thing for my birthday—to go on an IKEA shopping spree. Weird request? Possibly. But Mama is in desperate need of some affordably-priced storage solutions for her home office.
When you’re turning the ripe ole age of 33 years old, boring things like shopping for Swedish furniture are really a super exciting way to spend your birthday. We don’t have an IKEA nearby, so getting to go to one is like Christmas on my birthday. I’m sure there will also be beer involved in my birthday celebration (although hopefully post-IKEA—I’m on a mission and need a clear head to tackle those four floors of homegoods).
Since I’ve been rambling on for 10 straight minutes about IKEA binges, I’d then change the subject and ask you how your kids are doing. You’d tell me they were great and that one of them just started in a summer baseball league. That’s so fun! We tried Juni in a gymnastics class a few weeks ago, and it just wasn’t a great fit so we pulled her out, but I’m excited to one day see her wearing cute little sports uniforms and getting to cheer my head off on the sidelines like my parents did with me. We’ll try again when the nugget is a little older.
I’d love to come to one of your kid’s games! Maybe I can sneak in a bottle of wine and we can have a “wine date” while we cheer on your kid? Is that frowned upon? Do we care?
Okay, enough about our families, amirite? I ask you to tell me about your work. What new, fun projects have you been working on lately? Anything fun you’re doing on the side? Spill!
After you told me all about your amazing career (you’re my hero), you’d then ask me about my work, and I’d tell you that I had to be honest—I’m a bit burnt out right now. I love my job. I literally have my dream job, but that sometimes, running your own show can get pretty heavy. I think I have too many balls in the air businesswise, and it’s starting to wear on me.
I also have a bit of wanderlust going on, and I honestly just want to play hooky and hang out with my awesome family all summer and drive around and see lots of beautiful things. I tend to get this way every summer. Readership plummets on websites in the summer because people are outside having fun, so sometimes it can be really hard to find the motivation to put my heart and soul into content when not a lot of people are tuning in.
But then I remind myself that I do what I do because I love what I do, ya heard? Not because there is an audience or money or notoriety. I love cooking healthy food. I love telling annoyingly verbose stories. I love taking pictures. I love working with brands. I love connecting with readers. I get excited when I “get” to go to work every Monday, and man, that is worth more that I could put into numbers. And beside all of that, this is all just a (literally and figurative) season. By September, folks will be cruising Pinterest for pumpkin recipes while they watch Monday Night Football, and I’ll be back in business again.
I think the fact is that everyone needs a break from time to time (even those of us who adore our gigs). I took a month off last year, and it was the best thing I ever did for my business, my family, and myself. I’ll be repeating that this year. I already have it scheduled in my planner with big, thick washi tape—so I can’t write in any appointments or deadlines. I’m excited (and nervous, because stepping away from a business for a whole month is petrifying).
You’d then ask me if I have any new cookbooks coming out soon, and I’d tell you I actually have a few things in the works (see the previous note about balls in the air). Right now, I’m working super hard to finish up a book all about healthy lunch-packing for adults. It’ll be a book with tips, tricks, recipes, printables, and TONS of sample lunches that you can either copy directly or use as inspiration. I’m excited about it!
Other projects that are in various phases: a book with healthy menus that cost less than $100 per week, a vegetarian slow cooker cookbook, and a whole, big, giant scary project that I’m hoping to launch just in time for New Year’s 2017. But first, I need to stop juggling so many damn balls. Doing a bunch of things half-ass is so much less efficient than doing one thing whole-ass. I think I need to cross-stitch that onto a pillow and put it in my desk chair.
Oh gosh, look at the time! We only have a few minutes left. Quick, give me a quick run down of how everything else in your life is going. Go. GO. GO!
Phew. Okay, my turn.
Garden: small but producing well. Chickens: super entertaining and making more eggs than we can eat. Husband: college graduate (with honors!) and as sweet, compassionate, and cute as ever. Dog: old and grumpy (but adorable). Cat: really loves being picked up by the toddler (except not). Current beverage of choice: margaritas, preferably frozen. Dinner tonight: Sesame Soba Noodles. Current state of my office: a complete disaster (follow me on Snapchat while I step you through my office remodel—it gets worse before it gets better, right?).
Alright, I gotta jet. It’s been so great catching up with you. Let’s do this again soon, k? Stay cool!
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My son turns 2 on the 20th, and no we aren’t doing a party either. He’s not going to remember it anyways, right?!
A day at the lake is probably what we will do, much more relaxed and just as fun.
btw the link for Juni’s pool brought up a different page instead of the amazon link (I’m guessing it’s supposed to go to an amazon link?)
Happy early birthday to you and your sweet girl!
Fixed the link (that was so weird!). Happy birthday to your little nugget. June 20th is a good birthday. :) I’ve always enjoyed it!
Really, really love these coffee dates. :)
Thank you! I love writing them. :)
Great post and great pictures!
And great hair, of course! I’m so bummed that my curl has gone since the beginning of my pregnancy. Would baby be stealing it? Hopefully my hair will return to normal in a few weeks.
It’s funny you mention people asking you about having other kids. My husband and I are expecting #1, and even before I got pregnant we would talk about how we thought we would be a happy family of 3 (+ a cat and eventually we would love to adopt a dog).
My pregnancy has been quite miserable (for the both of us) so we are comforted in our choice. And yet people ask us now if we want more and how soon after this one — and they react weirdly when we say no! Only child stigma, apparently.
My hair is so much less curly post-pregnancy! It hasn’t come back yet. :(
Nothing like a miserable pregnancy to reaffirm your choice that you only do it once, eh? They say that each pregnancy is different, but the thought of maybe getting a second pregnancy that was as bad as my first (or gosh, even worse), is not appealing.
I just love these! And I love that you are taking a month off, that sounds like a wise decision but of so scary. You’ve got me thinking about how I can do it too :) Always inspiring, you are!
You can do it! You’ll come back to Q4 rested, inspired, and totally ready to kick bum. :)
These are totally my favorite posts.
Happy birthday to both you and Juni. You’re both gorgeous.
LOL, loved this post Cassie! Loved “sitting down” with you and hearing all about what’s happening in your life right now. I got to “meet” you and your blog thanks to Davida and Lee’s TBP group and I’m so happy, I love visiting your blog it always feels like I’m visiting a friend and spending a couple of hours on your porch/farm/kitchen.
Juni is so big (and cute)! Happy birthday to you two, have a blast and enjoy the summer!
ps. Loved the photos, and your hair looks great!!
New Fav drink – Starbucks (and I am not a Bucks person): Passion Ice Tea Lemonade (with no syrup added) BUT Sparkling. Obsessed with the bubbles and how refreshing.
I love that you’re happy with your 1 kid decision and feel ok speaking openly. Even worse than the one-kid shaming – having no kids. But oh well, I just tune those people out.
Enjoy your road trip – my fav way to spend time!
I LOVE BUBBLES. Oh my gosh, that sounds amazing! Maybe I’ll order one at our next coffee date. :)
And yes, totally on the no kids thing. We were married for seven years before Juni came around, and we fended a lot of “When are you having kids? Why haven’t you had kids yet?” questions. Not only is it none of your business, random lady at the grocery store, but it’s could also possibly be offensive if we were struggling with fertility issues. So, um, kindly back off, yo!
I second what Amanda says; these “Coffee Date” posts are among my favorites! Though it’s hard to choose with all of the other great content. But seriously, they brighten my day!
Hey Cassie your hair looks great! I couldn’t see any pool on the link you shared. Happy birthday to Juniper she is just adorable! I got married 2 years ago (14/06/14) and we want to have a big family if possible. He is the only child and I had a brother but he passed away. I miss my brother and I had an incredible childhood with him. Sometimes I just wish he was here to share the hard times or the responsibility when my mother gets old and will need care. My husband as the only kid is always overwhelmed caring for his mom and grandparents. We just feel on our skin how hard and lonely being an only child is it sometimes. That motivate us to have a big family. I hope to start next year so I will go through all your old posts when Juniper was just a baby! Hahaha have a good family trip!
I fixed the link to the pool (so weird that it wasn’t working!).
It’s interesting how different families have different dynamics, and everyone has to pick what works for them. Both my husband and I come from big-ish families (I have three sibllings, and my husband has two), and we love our siblings dearly, but those relationships didn’t hold much weight in our decision to only have one kid.
For us, it’s more about how we can create our best life as a family (time wise, financially, emotionally), and for us, that’s with just one kid. For others, it might mean a whole gaggle of ’em! :)
Talk to me about that picture with the purple flowers in the basket. What are those flowers and did you just take an apple basket and plant in it? I love the look. Early Happy Birthday wishes to you and your little.
It’s sage! And it wasn’t planted, that was just a harvest so I could freeze some sage. :) Our sage plant is OUT OF CONTROL this year!
I always love these posts, Cass! They remind me why you are one of the only blogs i really ‘read’ anymore.
And ignore the family protesters, as you seem to be. I know several people who were an only child or have only one child and they are happy and content. Friends and extended family make our lives just as rich as siblings. Have a lovely summer! Soak it ALL up girl!!
Thank you so much for these posts. They are such a great read and it’s so nice to get a glimpse into your life! Happy birthday to you and Juni! I am very excited about your cookbook projects especially the lunches for adults as I find myself struggling to be creative with mine.
I love reading your updates! We bought the same pool but the 10 foot size cause we live in the city and that’s most of our backyard ;) It was such a great investment- my kids have been living in it!
It’s funny about how many kids people want. I’ve always wanted a big family and after child #4 we thought we were done but something didn’t seem quite right. Now that we are expecting #5 we are definitely done. Each pregnancy has been super hard and this one has been full of complications so no more children for us.
Happy birthday to both you and your daughter and I hope that you enjoy the month off that you are planning.
I can’t wait to read your upcoming cookbooks! Love the idea of the budget friendly one. Nice “catching up” :)
Love these posts!
For Nora’s first birthday, we went for a hike and had cake in the woods…and I think we’ll do that for her second, too. Maybe add in a lake where she can play in the water. She’ll have more fun there that at a party anyway. :)
Oh, and I wanted a big family, but after a baaad first trimester with this second pregnancy, I’ve let that dream go. Puking 20-30 times a day with a toddler to take care of and no family in this country to help out – no bueno.
This coffee date post was clever, well-done and very readable. My one and only graduates high school on Thursday. I didn’t go into motherhood thinking that I would have just one, but after she came along I just didn’t feel there was another place at the table to fill. She has had the benefit of attention and vacations and outings and things that if we’d had another, we may not have been able to swing. Not to mention college! Again, if we’d had another they might have each needed to take on a lot of debt. With just one, we can manage. Enjoy your birthday and your time with Juniper!
Love reading these posts!
An early happy birthday to you both (we’re 33 a couple of weeks apart!).
I totally hear ya re: feeling complete with just one. I’m an only, my mum was an only and my daughter (11 months) will also be an only. It’s right for us…as it’s right for you! I do get sick about the constant questioning about #2… *insert mega eye roll*
To give perspective from an only: it was AWESOME!! I was so blessed to have opportunities I wouldn’t have had if I’d had siblings (for financial reasons). I also have the most brilliant relationship with my parents and have always been surrounded by family and friends. I consider myself very lucky to be an only (or as I like to call it “limited edition”) and have never once wanted to change a thing :) x
Hahahahah! I LOVE calling it a “limited edition”. I’m totally stealing that!
Dude. I so wish we were friends in real life. (Does that sound creepy and stalker-ish? I hope not!)
I always enjoy the coffee date with you from thousands miles away(in Japan!) My mind travels to the cafe and have so much fun chatting with you. Love your pictures I see lots smiles and love in those. I wish I could live in the beautiful nature like you, here is concrete jungle. TOKYO! I can’t wait for your books to come!
I want to say Happy birthday to you and Juni! Have a great one!
You’re the best! So proud of all you’ve accomplished. Happy birthday to you and Juniper!
Yes, thank you for speaking out about your family’s CHOICE to have one child. My husband and I have been together for three years and every year the “when are you having kids” nonsense grows exponentially. Look, we want to have kids, just not when I’m working and going to school full-time and he’s a 60 hour/week PhD student (aside from the “none of your business and wouldn’t you feel terrible if we were TTC and struggling” aspect).
Any in the same/similar boat, feel free to use the following retorts to “When are you starting your family?”
“When we got married/committed/got our dog/when I was 10….on Sims.”
“You know what they say, practice makes perfect.”
“Oh, are there any positions you might recommend?”
“Thank you for your concern about what goes on in our bedroom.”
I completely understand being burnt out and simply wanting family QT and adventure in the summer. This year is my first time taking summer graduate courses and boy has it been a struggle! Yet again, an excellent coffee date post. Can’t wait to see all your projects come to life over the next several months. Cheers!
I love catching up with you! Thanks for your discussion on having just one child – we’re still undecided if this one is it for us, but it’s nice to hear a perspective that embraces single child-ness. As an advocate of blogging breaks, did you take a “maternity leave” from blogging when Juni was born? Any tips?
I did! I actually worked when I was pregnant to stash about 15 posts that were all ready to go, I just had to schedule them. Between those, and a few baby updates, it got me through the first few months just fine. :)
My friend is home with her son for the first time in his life – so we’re planning a pretty epic 3 year old birthday party for him… because none of us around here have been able to properly celebrate the little human, and he’s old enough and adorable enough (and humors his honorary Aunts and Uncles and actual family) to enjoy it!
Also, dude, I <3 your projects. I love that you're involving your readership in helping to develop stuff. And hey, I love you and your little family!
Longtime lurker, but thank you so much for writing about your decision to stop at 1 child. We are in the same boat, and people think we are so strange. We knew when we were pregnant too, and people almost have this reaction of treating you like your parenthood is incomplete unless you have 2 while you are still pregnant with the first. I feel good about our life now, really good, and I couldn’t imagine the thought of starting over again.
I love these coffee dates, and desperately wish we actually lived near enough to make one a reality someday. I adore you, pretty lady. Thanks for continuing to plug away, even when the job stress gets to you. We’re glad to have you and your content!
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