Our Walk-to-School Ritual

Toby’s school is only five blocks from our apartment, and the best part of the whole walk (by far) is…

…the Italian bakery on the way. Our new Brooklyn neighborhood—Carroll Gardens—is known for its Italian-American food, and it’s peppered with old-school Italian restaurants, butchers, gelato shops and arguably the best pizza in New York City.

But we come for the mini muffins.

The boys always devour them in record time.

For adults, by the way, if you’re feeling hedonistic, is peppery “lard bread,” packed with cubes of salami and cheese. Apparently, the bread comes from the Southern Italian baking tradition of using absolutely everything. “If you were lucky enough to have pork with your meal, you would save the leftover fat and pork scraps, and mix them into your next bread dough,” writes Serious Eats.

For our fall adventures, the boys have been wearing Old Navy basics, like cotton sweaters and puffer vests.

We even got skinny jeans for Anton. (!!!) They’re cute, comfy and sturdy.

Then we’re ready to start the day! What are your morning rituals? Do you make a warm breakfast? Listen to NPR? Get up at the last possible second? I highly recommend adding lard bread to whatever you’re currently doing:)

(Photos by Yossy Arefi for Cup of Jo. This post is sponsored by Old Navy. Thanks for supporting the brands that support Cup of Jo)

  1. Joanna,

    Even though I am now a grammy, I remember so well when my two boys were these ages. I now have a
    9 year old granddaughter and a 7 year old grandson. They are the light of my life. Thanks for sharing these special, special moments with us. It is the everyday things I remember now from forty some years ago. God Bless your beautiful family.

  2. It feels like just yesterday you gave birth to Anton and now he’s walking! Also that bread looks INCREDIBLE. Yet another reason to go New York (I’d say 90% of my reasons are food related)

  3. You must be my neighbor! Mazzola lard bread is everything. I always fling a loaf at the guys who watch football at my place with my husband on Sundays, its like feeding time at the zoo!

  4. This is adorable! Such a great way to seamlessly fit family time into the schedule :) Unfortunately, I never wake up early enough to develop a morning ritual, unless you count falling out of bed, grabbing whatever clothes I find, and then dashing out the door a ritual :P -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

  5. thanks for your sweet comments! :) made my day. the shoes are from madewell, from a few years ago. and the jeans are MiH, i think. they always have really great fits. thank you!! xo

  6. My morning ritual is that I have my Yorkshire tea with waffles and I make my daughter her Indian breakfast of idly.
    Then I let her jump on her bed while I get ready, and then we usually go out to play or do some other fun activity.

  7. *perfect baked goods

  8. STFU! When I first lived and worked in Cobble Hill (13, eek!, years ago) I worked up the block from Mazzolas. They were on Court near Bergen. So happy you’re enjoying the treats. A definite bittersweet part of moving to the Midwest. Perfect goods are are sparse, but I’ve become a better home baker. Thanks for the flashback! xoxo

  9. As always, thank you for sharing these lovely pictures!

  10. I read a magazine while eating breakfast every morning. Of course, my time to eat breakfast is pretty sparse, so I get a little bit of an article in every morning. There’s a whole pile of National Geographic and Martha Stewart Living on my kitchen table!

  11. My cousin is the baker/manager! Tell Anthony Ilardi that Elisa Ilardi loves your blog!! :) I usually eat a loaf of his lard bread in one sitting!

  12. such cute boys you have!!! also where did you get your jeans! thanks

  13. Joanna, I would love to know what jeans and top you’re wearing. You look effortlessly chic (as usual!). I want those jeans and that top. I love your shoes too, but I love my jack purcell converse too much :)

  14. This post is the sweetest! I have a little boy who just turned 2 after having a daughter for 13 years prior to having him so as much as I adore my daughter little boys currently tug at my heart strings at the moment! Everyday I drive my daughter to school with Cooper in the backseat, we talk about our dreams from the night before, big sis gets out of the car and always opens the back door to give her little brother a smooch. After we head home and my husband and I have coffee together,feed Cooper and talk about our plans for the day before my husband heads downstairs for work. It’s simple but I love our family’s routine!!

  15. I’ve recently added listening to NPR for my morning ritual!

  16. Oh, Joanna, yes please! Jeans and shoes details! I know these are your staples, and you’ve probably already said it somewhere?

  17. I kind of want to meet Anton someday. He seems like a cool dude.

  18. NPR and my husband’s delicious coffee. By the way… those cute boys! How can you NOT have another?

  19. Your boys are so adorable and I can’t get over how big Anton has gotten so quickly!
    In Dramatic Fashion

  20. this is such a “gently” sponsored post- well done.

    and please tell us more about your jeans?

  21. I love your jeans. Could you tell us who makes them?

  22. what a heart-warming post! for some reason, these are my most favorite photos of you and your sons. it’s amazing seeing how much they’ve grown, and especially the photo of you entering the store with toby standing behind you. seeing how tall he is in reference to your height shows me just how much he’s grown. he’s such a big boy now!!

    i want to take this opportunity to thank you for sharing your life with us. i really admire your candor and sincerity as you share articles and comments of your life and your experiences. i would be utterly self-contented and smug to say that I’ve not learned a some really great lessons from your blog. I most certainly have.

    all the best to you, your growing family, and cup of jo!! xx

  23. I used to live in that area. Mazzola is the best, and THAT BREAD IS AMAZING.

  24. Bravo to Yossy for the great photographs! You have a glow about you.

  25. My morning ritual is to pop out of bed before 5, throw on the running clothes i laid out the night before, and hit the roads for 5 miles of running in the nation’s capital. then i rush to get dressed and out the door by 6:10. if i’m lucky, i get to kiss my son goodbye. we have evening rituals, though (school pickup, walk home, sword fight along the way, cook supper and dine as a family every night.). i love my life!

  26. what a happy morning walk!
    i love the moment of Anton devouring a muffin and dropping the crumbs on his pants! so cute!

  27. Love it!! I live nearby in Cobble Hill. But shhhh, let’s keep our ‘little pizza place’ as secret as we can! ;)

  28. I just wanted to say that I really appreciate that you gave props to your local bakery even though this is a sponsored post. Nicely done.

  29. I love this post. Your boys look so happy and you too! it is nice to see all of you in the picture.
    I do not have kids yet so my morning ritual is about making a homemade smoothie for me and toasts for my soon-to-be. We take the same train to work and when it is nice we drive on a scooter. I like that we spend time together before we go to work.

  30. I love your shoes!!

    Such a cute ritual, and Anton’s jeans look awesome. My friend’s daughter has been in skinny jeans for a while, because she’s 6 but in clothes only age 3 (my teensy munchkin), and everything else looks babyish on her! They’re perfect for that :)

  31. Joanna, these pictures are delicious, more than the mini muffins!
    Since I am a 36 years old mom of two little girls like Toby and Anton,(mine are 3 and 3/4 years old and 13 months old) sometimes I feel soooo close to you!
    My little one is blonde like Anton and I feel a river or tenderness when I see him!
    Congratulations Joanna, you’re a big mama!
    Our mornings are a totally mess. We’re always late.
    I have to say, my husband is Italian and we have no lard bread at home.

  32. What a great morning ritual! I’m a ritual person myself! In the morning I always like to seat down for breakfast with my husband (we don’t have kids yet, still trying – fingers crossed) and I make cappucinos and toast or pancakes :)
    P.S.: I just love the color of your lipstick Joanna

  33. Lovely pics, great routine, wuality family time!!!

  34. I am one of those people that are either up really early or sleep into the last possible second! I love your walk to school ritual though! I used to do something similar with my great-grandmother when I was in elementary school!

    Also..your boys are ADORABLE!

  35. a. says...

    Oh, Joanna, I love this! Seems like such a nice ritual, and the photos are gorgeous.

    Where I live in Norway, the mornings are already dark, cold and windy, it’s kind of depressing, I have to say. But even if we can’t have a nice walk outside, we try to make our mornings as pleasant as possible. When the kids wake up around 7AM, we make porridge or have some greek yogurt with granola, and we light the candles, put on some music and have a lovely morning meal together, the four of us, talking about what we’ll be doing today etc etc. The kids really love this quiet moment. But then, of course, clock is ticking, suddenly, we’re all in a rush, grab our lunch boxes and stress our ways out of the house to the kindergarden and work. Never seem to manage that part without the stress thing.
    Have a great day, I love your blog, Joanna!

  36. That bread! I want some of that!

  37. so sweet. we have biked to school nearly every day for the past 6 years. we love it, but i do miss walking and getting to hold a hand or two!

  38. I just love you. Sorry if that’s weird, but I’ve been following along for so long- watching you stumble through singlehood, fall in love with Alex… move repeatedly, change jobs, become a mama… TWICE! It’s just so nice to see you settled and beaming with joy. My affection for you has boiled-over, Joanna. Just wanted to send you some love. ♥

  39. I would love to know the name of the lipstick you are wearing. You look gorgeous. Thank you.

  40. I was actually in your neighborhood this morning. I so love it over there. But I have to disagree: the best pizza in NYC is Williamsburg Pizza, of course :)

  41. you seem like such a great mother, joanna! i have been reading your blog since way before the boys arrived and i think you figured it out and seem so natural. really a beautiful family, i love coming to this blog and reading all about it. congrats :)

  42. My mornings are timed out perfectly. I get up at the last second, and the state of my hair depends on how many times I push the snooze button. A quick small bowl of cereal, coffee in a to-go cup, pet & feed the cat, kiss the hubs, out the door I go. That bread looks amazing. Your boys are stinkin’ adorable.

  43. Gorgeous! I too would love to know where your shoes are from, as well as your lovely jeans! Thanks :) x

  44. Love old navy! Just stocked up over the weekend on some stuff for the kids! Ps. Your neighborhood looks amazing! Has it made much of a difference in your lives? Are there things to love or dislike? I’d love to hear if you care to write a post. I know a lot of people who think Manhattan and Brooklyn are hundreds of miles apart!

  45. Where are their sneakers from? So cute!

  46. How sweet! I can’t wait to build family memories like this. My mom and I had a morning playlist that we used to play on the way to school every day. It’s things like this that you remember more than the “stuff” you have as a kid.

    506 Miles: from Detroit to Nashville

  47. Lately, my morning ritual consists of nursing my two-month old daughter Lou, eating breakfast and watching Scandal – all in bed! ;)
    These photos are lovely. I could feel that fall crispness in the air just by looking at them! Love Anton’s skinnies!

  48. Also, what products do you use to make your hair so shiny? Tell us your secret!

  49. what a lovely ritual! Walks are by far one of my most enjoyable things to do with the kids.
    We have lazy mornings here in our desert oasis. My oldest is four and I’ve kept him out of preschool so we can thoroughly enjoy being the boss of our days:) We are in for a rude awakening next school year…. :)

  50. Joanna, I think every girl in america wants to be friends with you. This was the sweetest. You look effortlessly pretty and your boys!! Little studs. Happy Fall!

  51. what a fun walk to school, and delicious may I say ;)

  52. Love this post and love your shoes!, please please tell us who makes them

  53. where are your shoes from?? I love them!

  54. Iced coffee in the spring and summer, hot coffee in the fall and winter and blogs all year round. One of my fave parts of the day!

  55. Joanna!! Once upon a time, as a 14 year old working at one of the best Italian bakeries in New York, my off-the-boat Italian boss handed me a piece of bread cubed with meats and cheese, and I never knew what it was called or where it came from but I’ve dreamed of it ever since. You have no idea how happy am I to see it on your blog, know what it’s called and where to get it! Love love love. <3

  56. I’m so jealous your boys will even wear jeans. Ours have conspired to drive me crazy by demanding nothing but sweatpants. Every. Dang. Day.

  57. Since having my son almost three years ago, I’ve been able to work from home quite a bit. My kid sleeps from 10 pm until 10 or sometimes 11 am! It’s crazy. Most of our friends have accomplished so much of their day while my kid is snoozing! I wake around 7:30 or 8, get ready and catch up on emails. Once my son is up, we watch a Curious George over breakfast before I take him to my parents’ so I can get some work done.

    I think all the time about the rude awakening we’re all going to have when he starts school! I joke often about wishing they had night kindergarten and elementary school!

  58. our weekday mornings usually consist of my 16 month old son “helping” dad make a fire in the wood stove while I make breakfast, and then we all sit down at the table for oatmeal or eggs… or whatever i can get together more quickly on the days where it’s far more hectic! We’re usually pretty good through breakfast and then it becomes a panicky rush to get ready and out the door in time, and with everything we need…

  59. You are a genius at incorporating sponsors in a natural way. In other blogs it totally takes away from the feel, but you do it so naturally. Just one more reason why I’m addicted to your blog.

    Thank god I live nowhere near that lard bread, my BMI would go off the charts.

  60. Oh yay! I’ve munched outside that bakery before. And my husband got the absolute worst haircut from the olde fashioned barber just up the block! Like Jack Nicholson from The Shining, hehe. :)

  61. b says...

    You must live mere seconds from me. The best thing about Mazzola is if you walk by at night, after they are closed, you can knock on the bakery door and for a dollar or two they will sell you whatever is fresh out of the oven.

    Our Sunday ritual is their chocolate croissants, mmmm.

  62. I am a girl from long island moved up to Rochester,NY. #1 I love NYC and miss it,so. #2 I love old school Italian places. And #3 I wish I could walk to destinations. Awesome.

  63. Thank you for the cuteness overload today:). So welcome.

  64. Your children are adorable!!! :) I would love to have such a ritual for my mornings before school :P xx

  65. these pics are sooooo cute!!!!!!! angie

  66. your shoes!!!!!!!

  67. You’ve got this Mom thing down! Tell me about your jeans! You look so easy breezy.

  68. i want to know about YOUR jeans!

    we walk to preschool too…no italian bakeries but nice to take in our surroundings :)

  69. Toby is getting so tall!! And Anton’s serious expressions crack me up. Something tells me baby Anton and little old man Anton won’t look all that dissimilar :)

  70. Ha! I’d LOVE to add some lard bread to my daily rituals:)
    Thanks for sharing your morning ritual. I love my morning walk to school with my sweet kiddies. They’re just so cute at this age (4yrs and nearly 6yrs). They either walk holding hands or race each other. My daughter nearly always “hides” in the exact same spot everyday.
    Mondays are probably my favorite (I’m actually serious!). I drop the kids off in my sweats. I litterally roll out of bed and get the kids ready and just throw my hair up in a pony-tail and sweat band. Then, once the kids are in their class rooms and as all the other moms and dads head off to the office, I plug my earphones in and head out for a jog around the Vondelpark. Best way to start the week!!

  71. My favorite weekday morning ritual is sneaking a few quiet moments staring at my boys, asleep, snug in their beds before heading for work. Weekend morning ritual is the family gathered in one big bed, having a tickle fest, telling jokes or just some cuddle time.

  72. Cyrus has that blue and red striped shirt too! It was funny, at 3 1/2 months I held up that one and the green one to let him choose. His eyes always went to the blue and red one, no matter where I held them. Was so fun to see his little baby self having an opinion on clothes!

  73. Aww! The boys are so cute I can barley handle it. Skinny jeans for little Anton? Haha! Too. Cute.

    Lard bread? That basically contains everything I love in life. Thanks for letting us know such wonderful things exist.


  74. Your boys are adorable!

  75. Have u been to Lucali yet. I’m such a big fan of that place. We recently went for dinner with my friend’s 4 year old and they were so nice to here. She got to roll her own pie and they baked it all for her. So much fun!!

  76. I wouldn’t personally eat bread with lard, or even anything with lard in it. Other than that, this looks fun!

  77. These pics are so cute! I love their little velcro shoes :) Carroll Gardens is a great area. I miss the neighborhood feel of Brooklyn, especially this time of year with cooler weather and leaves falling everywhere! <3