For the last several months, every time our family eats a snack or a meal, someone at the table is uttering the following phrases: “This is good enough for the book!” or “I think you need to try this one again. NOT good enough for the book.” The individual saying this is almost always a young boy.
We wrote a book hoping you, fellow parents, would want to buy it (obviously). But ultimately our main motivator was to write a book for and about our children. The boys have had as much a hand in crafting this book as Matt and I and their input is all over the pages. Yes, there’s a Boring Chapter for Parents but, overall this book is to be a possession your children can feel proud to own, to be excited by and inspire them to want to be healthier.
When our book went up on Amazon it was over a week before the rest of the world knew, so we shared it with the boys that night. They were slightly ecstatic. As we went live and announced it to the world, Cole became obsessed with asking us what our “number” on Amazon was. He’s learning numbers in school and the idea that out of millions of books ours was 2,500 (THANK YOU) gave actual validity and reality of the process for him… and us.
Lots of people have asked about what it’s like to write a book. Well, it’s like having a baby. It’s overwhelming, stressful, and evennn painful sometimes. But in the end, you forget about all of that and look at this thing you’ve created and get all jolly from it.
With Matt and I, it was a bit different than most books – we truly co-wrote it, which sometimes presents problems. Honestly, it’s a testament to the strength of our marriage that we were able to work as collaboratively as we did. Like everything in our marriage, very quickly a division of labor formed on its own. Matt wrote most of the recipes, sometimes from ideas that I had. I was the photographer and worked with our designer, illustrator and friend, Amanda, with the overall vision. Both of us wrote the written sections, often passing them back and forth until both were satisfied.
It felt like every misstep or mistake or failed recipe was life and death, even if we knew that not everything could possibly work out the first time. One recipe in particular, the notorious Anytime Cookies were made by 4 or 5 different testers and about a dozen times by us. The day we made 4 failed batches in a row I actually cried. It took patience, but that final batch of perfect cookies was worth the hard work it took to get there.
It also took a lot of time. As you probably already know, I have a full-time job. The kind of job that often comes home with me. When I come home we have dinner, spend time with the kids and then put them to bed. So, that leaves between 8:30 and midnight to finish work, crank out a book, make food, set it up to photograph (usually in the morning for light) and then document what you did – while also running a blog. But no mistakes about it, we were thrilled to be doing it. Everyday we’d look at our accomplishments and say “Holy cow, we just made fruit roll-ups!” or “That Chapter is great, I think it really explains our point.”
It’s both a blessing and a curse to do this with your life partner. They become your business partner, and that’s pretty much how you live your lives for the time that you endless work on the end product. The good news is, you have someone to talk to and bounce ideas off of. You have a teammate for the physical workload; but, intimacy makes every conflict much more intense. If your marriage or relationship isn’t solid, don’t go into business together! The good news is, both of us wanted this book to be the best we could make it and that mutual desire meant we’d always end up on the same side.
The best part of making the book was doing it with the boys. They helped us make about 80% of the recipes in the book, because… well, that’s how we roll. We didn’t really leave the house on weekends for about 2 months straight while we tested and photographed recipes. We missed our friends. We missed yard sales. The farmer’s market became the one activity we did a week as a family.
As much as we missed the activities we would’ve otherwise been doing, we’ll always have those memories of doing a huge project together as a family. A project our children helped create. A project we can feel proud of and to feel like it might help someone somewhere. And that’s a feeling we wouldn’t trade for anything.
As excited as we were, we had to focus on our goals. We knew we wanted to have an illustrated story, one how-to chapter for parents and then one hundred recipes and projects in the book in order to give a good variety, but we had to also keep the length reasonable. As much as we love big honking cookbooks, we had to focus on making our book smaller, simpler and kid-friendly. No kid wants a book they can’t lift. The recipes had to be approachable and made mostly with familiar flavors. Not to mention, most of all, made with ingredients that parents would be proud to serve to their children.
So, what recipes will the book include? What are the boys’ favorite foods from it? What are their favorite lunch boxes and projects in book? Which recipes did they think up and how are they? What’s the illustrated kid’s story about? There are a lot more things we’re excited to talk about and questions we look forward to answering about the book.
We’re hoping that you can help us spread the word so that children as far as we can reach will have a book to call their own, to be excited about, and to want to cook with. Our next iteration in this making the book series will launch when we get to 75 likes on Amazon, so please help us get there if you want more questions answered and to start hearing about and seeing the inside!
For now we leave you with the answer to the following question: What was your inspiration for the aesthetics of the book?
Pictured, clockwise from upper-left, My Neighbor Totoro, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, Who Will Help Santa this Year?, Pirates Don’t Change Diapers, How Do Dinosaurs Go to School?, Woo! The Not-So-Scary Ghost