Category: Kids

Cooking Experiment with Four-Year-Old: A Further Episode in an Ongoing Series

Winter wish list: check! We are all be-mittened and be-hatted thanks to Kevin heading out solo yesterday morning to do his capitalist duty in this season of exuberant consumerism, while I hauled the children to my mom’s where she tossed together a delicious lunch of sloppy joes on very short notice. We arrived in time for Fooey to help stir the sugar cookie dough, a good start to her day of cooking; actually, perhaps her best moment. CJ participated by eating dough off the wooden spoon, while everyone else gleefully cut out shapes, then iced the baked results, and ate them on the spot.
We arrived home with a sleeping toddler, several bags of cookies, and no house keys because I was wearing my weekend pants, and weekend pants have no pockets for keys. Of course. Lucky for us, Kevin had blown through an errand list the length of his arm and was on his last stop, nearby in uptown.
Late afternoon, and it was Fooey’s turn to cook supper with Mama. Her menu: chicken noodle soup, with extra noodles on the side. And meatballs. And fried potatoes. And beans and rice. And pumpkin muffins except baked as cake. And. Whoa, whoa, whoa, stop!
In retrospect, I made several tactical errors, most critically when I failed to account for the fact that cooking with an enthusiastic four-year-old would not be the same as cooking with her older brother and sister. Who, first off, can both read. Literacy is a real help to these cooking projects. It helps with the menu planning. Reading the cookbooks. Figuring out, independently, whether ingredients are on hand. Reading the recipes out loud during the cooking process. Finding measuring spoons and cups and reading amounts, and measuring them accurately. Second of all, four-year-olds can’t use sharp knives. They might think that they can, but they can’t. Don’t let them. Thirdly, and most crucially, four-year-olds lack endurance. Excitement meets reality and wanes sharply. I knew we were in trouble when she complained–first task of the afternoon–that washing the potatoes was “really hard, Mommy.” Crumbling a quarter slice of bread into crumbs rendered her weary beyond expression. Fetching ketchup from the fridge: “I have all these things I have to keep doing!” Squishing the hamburger into meatballs and placing them on the cookie sheet was perhaps the most successful of our cooperative ventures, but even this carried certain pitfalls. “Um, did you just lick your fingers?” “No.” “Let’s not lick raw hamburger from our fingers, okay, please?” (Yup, error number four: four-year-old handling raw meat.)
Next time, I’m thinking we’ll retool the four-year-old’s cooking date. I might direct the menu just a tad more (I did nix the beans and rice, and the pumpkin muffin-cake; still, we ended up with a genuinely eccentric selection of edibles upon the tabletop. Poultry, beef, and pork, if you count the bacon fat in which the potatoes were fried).
Next time, I will lower my expectations a great deal.
Still, she was proud of the end results (I think; mostly, anyway), with the meatballs coming in as her favourite. I’m hoping the ongoing experiment will broaden her palette ever so slightly, as she’s currently our pickiest eater. And stubborn as heck. And taken to screeching in disgust at the sight of any objectionable new dish. The good news is that this role used to be filled by AppleApple, who is now willing to try anything. I live in hope.
If this weren’t already a veritable epic, and if my children were not becoming restless and desperate for attention, I might add something about last night’s fabulous debauch at our friends’ third annual Hi-Fi Christmas bash … something other than the cryptic words whiskey sour, dance fever, barefoot, cognac … forget it, those aren’t cryptic in the least. I’m already looking forward to next year. We’ll ship the kids somewhere for the whole weekend, and dance till they kick us out.

Put It All Together, and Here’s What You’ve Got

Snow overnight. Turning to damp snow by dawn. And by the time I headed up the hill, pushing laden stroller, to meet and steer the walking school bus … well, the substance falling upon us was debatable. One child suggested it was “slush.” Yup, pretty much.
Pushing up the hill through thick unmoving ice-slush? Pretty good work-out. Yet I never seemed to achieve the endorphin rush one achieves following a work-out uninhibited by wailing toddlers trapped in their wet mittens and strapped into a slow-moving stroller for close to an hour. The children were essentially soaked to the bone by the time we reached our destination.
Came home and shovelled the sidewalk. My mitts were wring-able.
Thankfully, babysitter arrived and I got some desperately needed writing time. The new site I’m writing for was supposed to launch on Monday; now it’s scheduled to launch Dec. 17th.
Wrote another book review, this time of A Coyote Solstice by Tom King, with pictures by Gary Clement.
Kevin came home for lunch. Promised that next Wednesday, he’d stay home with CJ in order to spare him the misery of the slow moving bus.
More writing during naptime. Wrote a short piece on baking with children.
Re-read the last story I’ve added to my basically-completed and much-expanded collection. Made some quick edits. I’ve got one more story to write, and then I’m sending the MS to my agent, who has agreed to read it and make a gut judgement–does she think she can sell it, or not.
Decided to drive to school. CJ kept crying “cold, cold,” despite snow suit, mittens, and hat. The wind was sharp. Discovered vehicle was on empty. Dragged pile of children (extra friend included) to gas station for fill-up. Of course, there was a traffic jam. The howls from hungry sad exhausted children were deafening. Hm, this sucks, thought I. Inspiration: send the two big boys into the gas station to buy a snack. Cookies, I suggested, since CJ and chips are a combo that equal choking hazard. They ran in, and by the time I’d filled up, returned, beaming, thrilled, a bag of chips each, and three bags of M&M candies for the others. SIGH. Well. “There weren’t any cookies, so we thought this was a good alternative!” And, really, it was. Everyone was cheered and chocolated, and quieted.
Next up: an evening out with Kevin. Which seems almost unimaginable at this stage of the day, with supper still to make, and children underfoot, and my hair … oh my hair. The soddenness of the morning has taken its toll.

Parenting Expert Reporting Live

I have not been a good blogger this week and there’s a reason. The reason is that I have started writing a parenting column twice a week for a new website that will launch in December. I’ll invite you there, when it goes live. Meantime, though there’s no direct poaching of subject matter (well, not in the columns I worked on this week), there is a general overlap between the genres. The columns are polished, obviously, and much more topically focused. But are blog-like in that I’m talking about real things that are really happening.

But I need to continue this blog, and push to find a few minutes here and there (like right now–while CJ “washes” every plastic dish in the house in our kitchen sink while standing precariously under-supervised upon a stool with a revolving seat while juggling lit matches … um, just kidding about that last thing. Please stay calm. And, yes, aren’t I eminently qualified to write a Parenting Column? I find myself muttering that on occasion since landing the gig. Hey, this is a great Parenting Column moment. Parenting Expert over here! Please, nobody look!).

Because I haven’t blogged most of the week, I’ve got an overload of topics on the brain. Such as, how has this return-to-school experiment gone? I’ll tell you. I’m not a student anymore. It’s not part of my identity. It would suck to go back to school for real. It would take some humbling. And a genuine desire to acquire the skills contained within the degree–and to get to the end. That’s the only reason I’d go back. If it felt imperative. I’ve enjoyed stretching my brain, and it’s awfully pleasant to spend a couple of hours away from home every Thursday evening, but, hey, I could accomplish that by going for a walk with a girlfriend, and get some exercise to boot. Also, though he hasn’t explicitly expressed this, I’m pretty sure Kevin is terrified that I might go back to school. This experiment (ONE CLASS THIS TERM!) has proven how hard it would be on the whole family to launch this mother into a new career. It would be a full-family project, and I wouldn’t be the only one making sacrifices. Interesting. Trot over to my Moms Are Feminists Too blog which is where I really should be venting about this subject and discovering creative solutions.

If only I weren’t so tired. Topic four. So Tired. I felt so tired this afternoon it was like being extremely hungry, except insert sleep for hunger. And CJ declined to nap. This took me way back, when, after a night spent up with two kids under two, I’d be so exhausted by mid-morning that I’d try for a brief nap on the living-room floor with Apple-Apple crawling on my head and Albus pulling open my eyelids. Good times.

Well. I have managed to rouse myself in order to cook up a delicious-smelling hamburger curry which simmers on the stove behind me now while light-as-air rice is steaming inside a clay pot in the oven while CJ tries out surfing in a giant wok on the kitchen floor (having safely descended). Some of the things mentioned in the last over-long sentence feel like achievements. Actually, they all do, even the surfing undersupervised (and entirely content) toddler. No one’s going to grade me on these accomplishments, or, likely, even say thanks, but nevertheless … the best moment yesterday was walking onto campus and remembering the warmth of the scene I’d left behind: bean/sausage/endive soup and fresh-baked bread upon the table, which one of the children had set without (major) complaint, my family sitting down to eat. (Though apparently both soup and bread struck out with the two youngest, who dined on cereal instead). Nevertheless. It’s a scene that takes constant vigilance and effort to conjure, day after day; my life. Ours.

Happy Birthday, Four-Year-Old

It’s her birthday, and I intend to upload photos from tonight’s much-anticipated party. Till then, here a few from the last couple of years, including one taken today: with birthday cake batter upon cheeks. Fooey was born when our family was transitioning between old-fashioned film and digital, and her babyhood was therefore cheated of in-depth recording. Plus, she was so incredibly cute that no photograph could truly capture her charms: the bald head, the toothless grin, the joyous spirit. She surprised us by arriving fifteen days early; we hadn’t even picked out her first name. She remains a commanding presence in our lives, chatty, vivid, opinionated, creative in her clothing choices, always colourful. She’s spent the last few days announcing, with great seriousness, to anyone who would listen: “It’s almost my birthday.” Yes, it is. Here we are. Happy birthday, youngest daughter. You are loved, loved, loved.


My today involved two (2) recitals for Apple-Apple’s day camp. It was hot, someone kept shushing the babies, and I tossed crackers non-stop at my offspring, but hey, it was worth it. Here is the link to Apple-Apple’s first piano performance (be assured, it’s short). And here is the afternoon group singing a canon that I found very moving (plus Fooey mugging for the camera; she thought I was taking a photograph and offered a variety of facial poses … umm, what am I doing to my kids by photographing them so often? Which reminds me that this afternoon, while we were eating popsicles in poetical formation on the front porch, recovering from all the bleeping lovely recitals, Apple-Apple cried, “Get your camera! You need a picture of this, Mom!” and I said, “No. I need to sit down.” And so I did. Because sometimes, sometimes, I don’t need a picture. Which is long enough, methinks, for a parenthetical aside).
And, yes, that’s a gratuitous photo of CJ completely unrelated to this post.