One Evening With Maria S. {A Photo Essay Series}


“One Evening” is a photo essay series that provides a sneak peek into the everyday lives of the Fairfield County Moms Blog contributors. The evening routine is photographed by Anna-Liisa Nixon Photographyand words are written by each mom to tell the story behind the images. It’s a rare and intimate look into each family’s life, one evening at a time.

As a teacher, I have the ability to start dinner early…so I do! My husband works locally and keeps early hours, which also helps. Most days, especially in the summer, I start cooking dinner around 4:30 p.m., as so to have it on the table around 5/5:15 p.m. Whenever possible, we try to tire the boys (ages 3 and 7) out, playing in our backyard. We are thankful that our neighbors don’t mind the screaming, “Home Run!” or “GOAL!” depending on the season. 
Once dinner is mostly ready, or someone’s about to meltdown, we hustle the boys inside to wash up and begin the chore of dinner time. It’s safe to say that 90% of the time the boys are showered and in their pjs by 5:30 p.m. Ain’t no shame in that game!

For the most part, dinner for the boys is a rotation of chicken nuggets, hot dogs (turkey and beef), turkey burgers, grilled chicken and filet mignon. Pasta is a staple, be it at lunch or dinner…sometimes both! I try to get a fruit and a vegetable in, but if they’ve been eaten for snacks, that might slide. My husband and I try to share the same protein, but basically most nights, I’m serving 3-4 different dinners. Thank goodness for meal prep Sundays.

We often watch TV while eating, as it’s a distractor but also a motivator to get the job done. If that fails, we shut it off and put on our timer. This really helps my older son understand the urgency of time, especially if he’s interested in dessert. At some point I will sit down with my husband to eat, but usually at that point he’s done, and we switch shifts of getting the kids to eat. 

By 6:15 p.m. the tempers and emotions are running high all around the house, as bedtime is  at 7:15 p.m. for both boys. (Yes a 7:15 p.m. bedtime! They’re up by 5:30/6:00 a.m., so that’s the trade off). It’s inevitable that a push, shove, hit, or bite will happen. At that point, we usually evaluate how much has been eaten and cut our losses. Dessert and books are next on the docket. Each son gets to pick 2-3 books depending on length. Now that my older son is reading, he can practice one book, if the energy is there.

When the timer goes off at 7:00 p.m., everyone starts scrambling! Call the Nonnas! Brush your teeth! Pick up the toys! Somehow we manage to get it all done in about 15 minutes and still have our sanity. Whatever the boys haven’t picked up, my husband does while I put my sons to sleep. (My younger one still loves his mommy snuggles, and mommy loves them too). Once he’s sleeping, the kitchen sink gets cleaned and emptied, and most nights, by 9:30 p.m., my husband and I crawl into bed. 

Images for this project are captured by Anna-Liisa Nixon Photography. Anna-Liisa specializes in documentary family photography and loves capturing the real, silly, weird, and tender moments of childhood. She captures that blur of motherhood — the laughter and tears, the real moments and connections, and the unique rhythm of a family. To learn more, visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

To see all posts in the “One Evening” photo essay series view here.

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Maria Sette
Maria is a full-time mom, teacher, wife, daughter, and sister, who feels pulled in too many directions! Her older son Michael took over 24 hours to be born, and at six-months-old was diagnosed with allergies to dairy, eggs, nuts, soy, shrimp, and wheat…all after exclusively nursing because she was SO SURE that would help him be a healthy kid. Luckily at age 1, he began to outgrow some of his allergies. Fingers crossed the others will soon follow because that plus a husband who doesn’t eat any veggies and Maria always battling her weight makes for three meals to prepare every night. Luckily, Christopher, her younger son, is a cooperative eater! As someone who has always been committed to making positive change, Maria uses her privilege and position as an educator and mom to work toward a most anti-racisit, equitibile, and inclusive world. Recently, Maria has even started getting up at 5am to workout in her basement. (Thank you pandemic living!) She is addicted to reading chicklit on her Kindle app in the dark, most Trader Joe’s products, and watching TikToks.


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