All-of-this-Mixed-Up-and-Baked-in-a-Beautiful Blueberry Galentines Pie

Happy Galentines weekend, all! (If you've never heard of Galentines, go ahead and click on the link for a tutorial and welcome to the holiday! I'm unabashedly channeling Leslie Knope in this post.)  Instead of our typical weekend gems post, I wanted to send a little love & appreciation to all of our N+L internet Gal Fridays today (or is it Gals Friday?). If I could have a weekend wish, I would have you all over on Saturday for a long chat, good laughs, and some pie.  Since that's not in the cards, I thought I'd share my favorite pie recipe and raise a fork to you across the miles.

If you've seen the 2007 dark comedy film Waitress, you might remember that Jenna (Keri Russell) bakes a series of cathartic pies that she creates and names after her emotional state at the time, things like the Marshmallow Mermaid Pie, the Falling in Love Chocolate Mousse Pie, the I Don't Want Earl's Baby Pie, Baby Screamin' Its Head Off In The Middle of the Night & Ruinin' My Life Pie, and finally the I Can't Have No Affair Because It's Wrong and I Don't Want Earl to Kill Me Pie.

In that spirit I'm calling this the She's-All-of-This-Mixed-Up-and-Baked-in-a-Beautiful Blueberry Galentines Pie. (I lifted the title directly from a song* in the new Waitress musical.) Don't get me wrong, though, this could also be whipped up on Valentines, too, and called the Blueberry Declare-Your-Love Pie. It's G's favorite pie on earth. In fact, it's one of his love languages. Feel free to choose your holiday on this one.

photo by  Mark Boughton

photo by Mark Boughton

She's All of This Mixed Up and Baked in a Beautiful Blueberry Galentines Pie
{or} Blueberry Declare-Your-Love One-Crust Pie

1 9" prebaked pie shell (I have great luck with Pioneer Woman's pie crust recipe)

4 cups blueberries, rinsed and dried (can use frozen but fresh is 100 times better)

1 cup white sugar, divided into 3/4 c. and 1/4 c 

1 cup water

3 T. cornstarch (i.e., corn flour in Australia)

1. Line baked pie shell with 3 cups of blueberries

2. Combine 1 cup blueberries, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 cup water in a medium saucepan and cook over medium high heat, boiling until soft.

3. In small bowl or mug, combine 1/4 cup sugar and 3 T cornstarch. Mix in a little (2 T or so) of the hot mixture and stir until smooth then add to pan with hot mixture.

4. Cook for a few minutes, stirring until warm and smooth and thick.

5. Cool and pour mixture onto berries in the pie shell.

6. Refrigerate for 2+ hours for pie to set. 

7. Serve with ice cream or fresh whipped cream. Go on, head back for seconds.

(A big thank you to my friend, Annette, who passed along this recipe to me many years ago.)

  • A few of those pie recipes from the movie Waitress
  • *The lovely Sara Bareilles song (from the new Waitress musical) that inspired the pie name:

Happy weekending!


We are coming to you live today from Austin, Texas. The fact that we're in the same place at the same time--actually in person together--is kind of freaky. This is only the second time we've met, can you believe that?  When we realized that a flight stopover in Dallas could be extended a day or two to make this blog retreat/boondoggle possible, we were excited to try to make this happen. And throw in some Tex-Mex in Austin? Done deal.  It's a little surreal, since usually our dailyish interactions look something like this FB conversation from November when we were trying to remember how we first crossed paths:


We are waxing poetic because we are approaching our one year blog-iversary. We started this blog with the idea of reaching out to big-kid parents to solicit advice, offer insight, and celebrate this pivotal, joyful, and sometimes frustrating phase of our lives. We're just as enthusiastic today as we brainstorm our way through the weekend and look forward to the year ahead. Personally, we've enjoyed the reflection and the conversation and we've loved hearing from so many of you in the process. The bottom line is that we're looking forward to MORE of it--more chiming in from other moms and dads about their families, more test-driving of pragmatic suggestions for life with big kids, more wondering about the big questions and the nitty gritty, more discussion, more launching, more nesting, more you.

And if there's more Tex-Mex, too, in the process? All the better. Here's to the year ahead!

Two for Flinching

Did I tell you that I took a year's leave of absence from my PhD program when we moved to Australia? I asked for three months to get us moved, unpacked, and organized but the powers-that-be said that they would only grant a leave for a year at a time so I gladly took the whole year. (I mean. Wouldn't you?) Oh, I'm so glad for that blessed year because it gave me time to think and adapt and nurture our transplanted kids and, yes, begin to incubate this blog project with Sarah.
Well--you guessed it--tomorrow it's time to strap on my student gear and go back to school one...last...time since (erm, knock on wood, please bless, fingers crossed) I plan to finish and tie it up with a bow by the end of the school year. (There, see that? I put it down for all to see.)
Since I'm in the back-to-school mindset, I've been reading through those patient, long-suffering, slightly accusatory piles of research journals and the like that have accumulated next to my desk. As I've skimmed and studied, I've thought of you Nest & Launchers so I highlighted passages I thought were relevant to mid-stage parenting or that you might find interesting. 
Photo by Vivian Maier

Photo by Vivian Maier

The study described in "Two for Flinching: Children's and Adolescents' Narrative Accounts of Harming Their Friends and Siblings" in this month's Child Development caught my eye, partly because I remember that two for flinching game, partly because I do always appreciate a catchy research article title, and also because the topic is one most of us can relate to, from both childhood and parenthood perspectives. Researcher Holly Recchia and colleagues asked 34 seven-year-olds, 33 eleven-year-olds, and 34 sixteen-year-olds to describe specific incidents where they caused harm or upset to a friend and a specific time when they caused harm or upset to a sibling. Then they compared the desciptions of harming in friendship with those between siblings to see what they could learn about the kids' experiences. Here's what they found:

In friendships:

  • Children especially show heightened moral concern for others within friendships, probably because they are relationships that are earned and can be jeopardized by harming and hurting behavior. Compared with sibling conflict, within friendships children seem more able to control both their own harming of others and their responses to others' harming of them.
  • Compared to siblings, harm or upset between friends was more often based on "relationship-centered concerns" including trust building and connectedness. The most frequent reason for harm between friends had to do with hurting feelings due to sharing (or not sharing) time together, as in something like "I think I hurt my friend when I didn't hang out with her between classes but instead played sports with another group of people."
  • Harming experiences with friends can teach children and teens that it's not always possible to anticipate what harm you may cause even if you don't intend it. 

In sibling relationships:

  • Harming (as you might expect) between siblings was more "ruthless" and "uninhibited," possibly because of the frequency of interactions and also because the nature of the relationship is given (a sister stays your sister, even if you harm her) rather than earned ( a friend might stop being your friend if you harm her). One boy said "I learned this thing from my friends, like when you make somebody flinch, you punch them twice and say "two for flinching." So I did that to her and I just kept doing it and doing it and doing it."
  • Sibling harming typically happened intentionally and was triggered by either explicitly offensive behavior like teasing or over the sharing of things and property disputes.  
  • Children described their harmful behavior as a result of anger or loss of control and was more often provoked. 
  • More often than with friends, siblings responded to being harmed with stronger, more emotionally intense reactions:  escalating behvavior, crying, anger. 
  • Children understand and recognize the cyclical pattern of escalation in harming siblings and know that these patterns are problematic.  
  • As children got older, the differences between treatment of friends and siblings because more similar as adolescents become less careful about upsetting friends and as relationships with siblings mellow. 
  • Harming in siblings interactions can give important feedback to kids and adolescents about what is and is not tolerated, especially since siblings are typically not shy about reacting to harm.  

Take away messages for parents:

  • Handling situations of harm or upset actually may be an important part of children's moral development; it's certainly not something to seek out but when it happens, it can be framed and used for learning. The relationship settings--either between friends or siblings--can provide different and complementary lessons.
  • The feedback that children and adolescents receive from their siblings and parents is particularly helpful in helping them form moral judgment and understand the negative consequences of behavior.
  • Parents can help children process the situations--and understand the intense feelings of anger that provoked the behavior as well as the remorse or regret that can accompany times where the harm is more harsh, ruthless, or intentional. 
  • It gets better, typically. As children age, the sibling conflict mellows. For example, 16-year-olds were more likely to refer to their siblings' sadness than that of their friends, whereas for 7-year-olds the reverse was true. 

What do you think?

p.s. And, come on, how could I resist this especially illustrative description by the Deschanel sisters?


Guest Post: Being new in town

We've got a treat for you this week! Since Sarah and I are both traveling along the trail of tears (i.e., each launching a daughter into the big wide world), we're featuring a guest writer on Nest & Launch this week.  If you're the kind of soul who clicks on the links in posts you may already be familiar with my friend Christie, since she is the wonder woman who is my friend-making guru and who inspired my long-delayed picture hanging. She's also one of my true, move-a-body friends and I'm so happy she agreed to fill in this week in our absence. You're going to love her:

At the end of May, our family moved from St. Louis to Dallas.  For months, we talked about it with our three kids (ages 15, 13, and 11).  How great it would be, how much they would like it, and how easily they would make new friends.


A few weeks in, and we had a handful of potential friends.

A few months has now come and gone and we all realize one thing:  Mom and Dad were big, fat liars.

It has been okay, they don’t love it (yet), and it’s definitely not been easy.

But we have learned a lot of lessons that I definitely think could help other mid-stage parents out there who find themselves on the early side of a move.

The first thing we did was dive in and get involved.

Within two weeks of arriving here, I had enrolled all three of my kids in summer camps at their respective schools.  This was a scary prospect for a teen/tween – showing up to camp and not knowing a soul. 

For the boys, it became a new and exciting endeavor.  They took this opportunity as a chance to reinvent themselves and are both trying a new sport.  Happily, they are finding that they really like it.  Football is king here in Texas, and they are embracing that mentality wholeheartedly.   Something, I am sure, they would not have tried in our old school.

For my daughter, it was both a hit and a miss.  One camp was fantastic.  A sport she had never tried plus patient coaches left her feeling confident and eager.  The other camp was full of girls who have played the sport in club for years.  She came home sobbing and dejected.  Painful lessons, but great life experience nonetheless.

Secondly, we threw a party for about 20 families in our neighborhood within a week of moving here.  Yes, there were boxes that needed unpacking still.  Yes, we didn’t know any of the neighbors.  And, HOLY MESS, our house was not remotely put together the way I would have liked.  But it introduced us to families we otherwise wouldn’t have met that first week.  They fell all over themselves praising us for our outgoing attitudes, never knowing just how scared we all were to do it.  Bonus:  It motivated the Husband to get all my pictures hung up on the walls.

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Third, do not underestimate the power of the “mom card.”  I have seen these from the time my kids were little, and always thought they were a great idea, but never bothered to get some.  Having a box of them ready to go with our move has been invaluable.   Whenever we have met someone new, I have pulled one out of my purse and instantly provided our names, address, and phone numbers.  It’s a tangible reminder for new friends to keep you on the radar, too.

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Fourth, we have asked our kids to look in their church classes for someone they think they would like to know better.  Then, I’ve picked up the phone and invited that family over for dinner or dessert.  People have the best intentions, but life gets busy.  You cannot sit around and wait for people to come to you.  Put yourself out there and be proactive. 

Lastly, and most important, just keep trying.  Attend any and all church, school, or community activities, even if you don’t want to.  I have attended a book club I might not otherwise, a community fundraiser, and a “mommy & me pool group” that was definitely geared to mothers of little kids.  But all have proved to be a great place to connect with other women and, at this point, we’ll take all the connections we can get.

Be patient.  Planting new roots is a slow, laborious process.  It doesn’t happen overnight.  But when enough time has passed, and those roots are secure, you will wonder why you ever felt at home anywhere else.

You can find Christie at her blog Stie's Thoughts, where she's been keeping track of her family's adventures and hilarious sagas since 2006. She and her family have lived in Utah, Minnesota, Seattle, Boston (where our paths thankfully crossed), San Diego, St. Louis, and now lucky Dallas gets them for the foreseeable future. She knows how to find a posse of fantastic friends faster than anyone I know.

Launching friendship

Series by  Yumi Sakugawa , via Maria Popova's  Explore . 

Series by Yumi Sakugawa, via Maria Popova's Explore

When we made our other-side-of-the-world move almost a year ago, I knew I'd need to find a new doctor, dentist, hair stylist, and mechanic but what really put a pit in my stomach was the notion of starting all over again building close friendships at this stage. It's daunting! While of course I'm planning on maintaining (albeit from a distance) the terrific friendships I've made over the years, there's something to be said for an in-person friend who can meet you for lunch or a movie, advise you on which dress to buy for that wedding, or be the person you'd call to help you move a body*.

Sociologist Rebecca Adams says there are three conditions crucial to making close friendships: proximity, repeated & unplanned interactions, and a setting that encourages trust and confiding. It makes sense, then, that most close friendships are forged in the earlier decades when there's simply more time to put into it. The years of early parenthood are notoriously fertile ground for forming lasting friendships. The neighborhood play groups. The park meet-ups. The preschool co-ops. The mutual, shared bewilderment as you navigate the new world of sleep schedules, tantrums, and preschool enrollment. You find your people, settle in, and watch the kids grow. 

But these mid-stage years when the kids are in elementary school and up? It's a tougher time to start new friendships, with all three elements of friendshipping on the decline and, on top of that, a scarcity of time. Plus most people have already found their people (see above). What's a gal to do?

My friends Christie and Ellen are both impressive friend-makers so I've tried to channel them in my new setting (ladies, feel free to chime in with your sage advice):  Saying hi and introducing myself at church and school gatherings. Inviting people to meet for lunch or to come over for dinner. Hosting parties. Volunteering to help with projects that come up.  I've been lucky to get to know lots of wonderful people so far and--who knows?--maybe some of them will turn out to be move-a-body friends*.

What about you? Have you moved and started from scratch at this stage? When was the last time you made a new, close friend? Do you tend to socialize with longstanding friends or do you mix it up with new people?   

. . . 

Speaking of friends... 

  • Brene Brown's description of a move-a-body friend has always stuck with me. It's spot on. You can also watch her describe it on the video here.
  • Yumi Sakugawa's endearing series of cartoons (like the one featured above) on friendshipping made me smile.
  • Over the weekend I finished the novel Attachments pretty much in one sitting--I couldn't stop myself. It's a fun rom-com-style read (like a literary version of You've Got Mail) that features a workplace friendship told, in part, through the witty banter of their emails. Perfect for a long plane ride or a day at the beach. 
  • When the kids and I had to go to Sydney to renew their passports last week, we listened to the YA novel Code Name Verity. It's so good--I especially recommend listening to it--and it had each one of us enthralled for all six hours of the roundtrip. It portrays the close friendship between two brave young women in WW2 Britain, with a great deal of intrigue and humor and suspense in the mix. (A few instances of rough language and war violence throughout.)


A few thoughts on girls camp

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Last week I went with the girls from my congregation to our annual Girls Camp. I was in charge of our small band of 22 girls (accompanied by other super-helpful moms) in a camp of a over 200 girls -- ranging in ages from 12-18.  Unlike past years of air conditioned cabins, this year we were really roughing it. The locale was a real-life Girl Scout camp with canvas tents on wooden platforms, a lake for canoeing, and a giant pool to ease the Texas summer heat. 

I learned a ton of things during my stay at Girls Camp.  Some of these relate only to my own person, like . . . I can, if forced, live without air conditioning. And, if I was forced to live without airconditioning for an extended period of time, I'd cut my hair boy short. One thing I already knew about myself is that without climate control, a blow dryer, straightener, and really, good hair product, my hair is a giant, frizzy ball of curls. It looks REAL bad.

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But, no one comes to this site to hear of my hair woes (and they are lengthy and semi-tragic). What I can tell you is a few of my observances of the inner-working of the GIRL in a social setting. I watched the speciman, THE GIRL,  very carefully while at camp. She's not so mysterious as some might think. 

Here's what I know: 

  • Girls are not wimpy. Some of the tents were CRAWLING with bugs. It was in the mid-nineties every day with uber-high humidity. We were sweaty and nasty every second, except for 5 minutes after you showered (before you started sweating again). We used stinky latrines. We even hauled our own firewood one night. And there was very little complaining -- just the occasional "Boy is it hot!"  I tried my best to point out how exceptionally strong and tolerant they were. "You girls don't even need air conditioning!" Or "You found enough firewood for two HUGE fires!" And they would act kind of surprised. Like, hey, yeah, I did that.
  • What you see on the outside of a adolescent/teenage girl may have absolutely no correlation to what's happening on the inside of that girl. They are illusive creatures. Finding out what's on the inside can be tricky and mostly requires your presence. I don't think I quite became anyone's confidant, but I was privy to the secret crushes of a number of the girls. I just waited quietly. Joked with them a bit. They really wanted to tell.
  • The real talking happens late at night. I've read any number of places that teenagers often will only open up late at night -- that you have to place yourself at the intersection of their comings and goings to get a bead on them. I've been pretty lucky so far in that my girls tell me a ton of stuff at any time of the day (except early morning). But these girls at camp? They really came out of their shell sometime after 10:30 PM. 
  • Each girl handles social situations a bit differently, and that's okay. Some of the girls were boisterous, some were funny, some were quirky, some were quiet, some were observant. Some were attention-seeking, and we tried to meet that need. But mostly, left to their own devices, the girls interacted without much drama or unhappiness. I did see a number of acts of kindness -- a girl waited for another who was lagging behind, someone left a group to go on an errand with one who was a little lonely. There were plenty of examples of plain, old human kindness. Sometimes girls get a bad rap for cattiness. But there was plenty of compassion and consideration as well.
  • Some girls really needed a friend. Towards the end I saw girls wishing they were included in certain groups.  Other girls wanted to claim a best friend for their very own. What it really boils down to is wanting to belong. Shoot, we all want that. I don't have a magic bullet for this one. (If I did I'd definitely have been invited to be on an Oprah special.) But here's what I say to my girls when they are in a difficult "friend" situation:

Two things -- One. Do your best to truly like people. Admittedly, this can be really hard -- especially when folks are being mean. However, most of the time, when my girls say they don't like someone . . . it's because they think that person doesn't like them. On the flip side, I've also heard them say things like this, "Yeah, that girl can be grouchy, but she thinks I'm really funny so I like her!" It's a simple rule: people like people who like them. Stitch that on a pillow.

And second, I tell my girls to work on understanding what it means to be a friend. And with that, figure out who your real friends are. Without doubt, this takes time and experience to sort through. And I know (I KNOW) this can be painful, and lonely, and downright discouraging. I tell my girls that a good friend rejoices in her friends' successes and mourns their disappointments. A good friend listens. A good friend lets the unimportant stuff slide. I could go on. And, by no means do I have this topic sewn up. I'm still working on it myself. But I do think modeling straightforward, honest friendship is essential. Also, learning to say "I'm sorry" -- those two words can heal a boat-load of hurt.

All in all I was blown away by my 22 girls. They are smart, responsible, chipper, and ardent. They are kind and want to do good. Yes, they are young and sometimes lose sight of the important things, but this upcoming generation? They are doing just fine.