Thursday, December 31, 2009

Newsflash

Hair Hat has been chosen as one of five books for Canada Reads 2010: Independently!!!! (If you want a copy to read along, contact me.)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Focus

Can't stop taking photos. Running out subjects. Maybe I'll carry the camera out tonight and record an evening edition playgroup in session. Sleepy due to late night and indulgent celebrations. Achy from the hot yoga super-poses. Mountains of laundry due to not folding on my birthday. Supper will be black beans and rice with tortillas and authentic Central American crema, and queso blanco; this might possibly be my favourite meal of all time. I should be gearing up to make new year's resolutions, or feeling more contemplative, but ... somehow, not yet. "Can you please focus!" I just heard Albus tell his sister, who is doing the camera work for their mutual movie project, which involves all the amazing Star Wars Lego ships he's built over the last week. Quite astonishing, really. He does it completely without assistance; when I tried to help, I realized that I couldn't, because the instructions were too complicated for my non-mechanically-inclined brain to follow. It's a bit like doing 3-D puzzles.
So here's what else is on, this sleepy old day: Kevin's gone to Toronto. Fooey's watching TV. CJ's napping. I'm playing. Above, some evidence.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I Have Been Informed That This Is How I Should Hold My New Camera

Thanks to everyone who made this day so truly wonderful and celebratory. Aging. It's not half bad.

Wait! Birthday So Far Revised!




So, Kev and the boys were gone when Fooey and I got home from taking AppleApple to horse camp ... gone for a walk, the note said. It did not add: to the camera store.
W.O.W.
I'm speechless.

Birthday So Far

Woke early to CJ crying a word that sounded like "puppy." Nope, another word very similar; and his diaper had worked its way off in the night. After cleanup, we had a snuggle and a nurse. Then we got AppleApple dressed and ready for a day at horse camp--my Christmas gift to her. I don't think she's wearing enough socks under her rubber boots. It's freezing out there! Took Fooey along because she wanted to see the horses. Spent the entire time at the farm listening to Fooey cry because she wasn't wearing snow pants. Spent the entire trip home with Fooey kicking the back of my seat and howling because I hadn't brought a snack for her. She did seem properly chagrined when I reminded her that it was my birthday, finally (guilt tripping Mama).
So ... it's a regular day. But here are some lovely things ahead: I requested an afternoon out of the house, without kids. I'm planning to drop in to a hot yoga class around noon, spend a generous gift certificate from my mom at a favourite clothing store uptown, and ... not sure what else. Maybe visit the bookstore or library, bring my journal. And tonight, Kevin's taking me out for supper, no children allowed.
But right now, I need to deal with an absurdly grumpy four-year-old. "You has to HELP me with the puzzle. That's what I'm trying to complain to you!"

Monday, December 28, 2009

Birthday Eve


On the eve before each birthday, I like to sit down and write, right around midnight, usually for a good hour of pouring out and thinking ahead. This is a ritual I've been observing for many years, and I always write by hand rather than type. Because I rarely write by hand anymore, the journal in which I'll write tonight is the same one I've used for several past years too. Its pages never seem to fill anymore. There was a time when I filled several paper journals each year. At one stage, I faithfully recorded my dreams upon waking. But I'm not sure what that taught me, other than how to remember my dreams. I'm not a dream-reader, though do find certain recurring themes curious, and occasionally dream vividly of people no longer in my life, who have died or are in some other way gone and inaccessible to me otherwise. There's something quite beautiful about those dreams, as if in dreaming I can find forgiveness or mercy or grace that cannot be granted while awake.
I don't know why this blog slanted in this particular direction.
My journal is leather-bound. We drove home today from our Christmas get-together with Kevin's family, and beat the snow; I was thinking about writing tonight. I know exactly where the journal is waiting for me, on top of my dresser, with last year's hopes and dreams waiting to be read and discovered, with last year's anticipation and wondering waiting there too. Where have I travelled this year? What unexpected opportunities and challenges have come my way?
It feels, at present, that life comes down to time. That at its essence, time is what life is. We can't call back lost time, and we can't know how much time is left to us. We can only spend what comes to the best of our abilities, given the limitations and possibilities of our circumstances. I am glad and grateful for how I've gotten to spend my time so far, and how I'm spending it now. This coming year, I hope to explore, discover, dream, wonder, write, deepen relationships, and fear neither transitions nor challenges.
Onward.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Morning

Our morning, so far: stockings opened and sticky rolls and homemade grape juice and sugar overload, and Christmas pajamas, and music on the radio, and a turkey in the oven, and sleepy parents, and a recycled train from the attic with new batteries that makes the most thrilling noises (if you're 2o months-old), and a bean bag chair, and enough books to fill a new shelf. Naptime, anyone? Anyone?
:::
Wishing you a merry and peaceful Christmas day!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Getting Ready

Sprinkling reindeer dust. Sticky buns set and rising in the fridge, to be baked for breakfast tomorrow. Stockings hung with care and anticipation. (AppleApple made the one on the left, especially for CJ. "I can hardly believe when I look at it that I made it!" Know what you mean, child. Know what you mean.)

Quiet

On the afternoon of the day called Christmas eve ... downtime on the couch watching: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, and Mary Poppins. Kev and I are recovering to the point of functionality following a brief but unhappy and ill-timed bout of the stomach flu, the misery also shared by several of our children. Yesterday was a yuck day all around, and included some swearing (both Kevin and I, on entirely separate occasions, used a particular word we'd taken care never to expose the children to before ... which Albus today looked up in the dictionary. Sheesh). Around twilight, I became overcome with self-pity, which sits well on no one, especially on grown adults, I find. Yuck, yuck, yuck. But it all seemed a bit too unfair: to have finished writing the exam, all systems go for delicious holiday cooking and baking and sharing with family ... and then woken at dawn to the sound of ...
Well, perhaps we have this out of our systems. And though my appetite hasn't returned, I nevertheless had the energy, today, to start a double batch of sweet rolls for tomorrow's breakfast.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Today's Cabin Fever

Today's new post on ParentDish: holiday baking with children. For those of you familiar with my blog, this may feel vaguely familiar. A little fictional non-fiction, if you will.
I will add that Cabin Fever feels like a particularly apt title today. I'm almost looking forward to this afternoon's exam so I can get out of the house and absolve myself of the responsibility (for a few hours) of directing my children in creative and non-violent play. (Because they seem to gravitate toward the opposite: wrestling, shooting games, whacking with living-room pillows, using stuffed animals as missiles, fashioning tunics out of pajama bottoms and refusing to wear actual clothes, and involving the youngest siblings in a game called "Super-Villains vs Super-Heroes," in which Mommy is the enemy. Good times, I tellya. Though they've got me now--they're playing quiet games at the table, side by side. This too shall pass).

Monday, December 21, 2009

Friendly Neighbourhood Elves

Delivering cookies. Eating cookies. So tired. So cranky. How much further? Why won't he wear his mittens? Now he's lost a boot. Oh no, everyone's escaped. This could be slow. Sloooooooooow. Hey, someone's home! Oops, pajama-time. How early in the morning is it, Mama? Hey, someone else is home! Would we like to come in and warm up? Would we like to come in! Cup of coffee for mama? Cup of coffee! Oh, yes, we brought you these treats ... that my children are now eating. For you, a second bag.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Pass the Unity Cup, Please

Today has been a kitchen day. I like kitchen days. I feel, mostly, competent in the kitchen. I feel free to experiment, to explore, to attempt. And I've got some devoted helpers, suddenly, too. Fooey's been all over the kitchen ever since last weekend's supper extravaganza. And I've been letting her help more, too. There's more mess, but so be it. She helped last night making Christmas cookies, unwrapping candy canes and smashing them with a rolling pin, then sprinkling them into our stained-glass cookies. And she helped again this morning, following along with a children's recipe, and reminding me at various points: "I can do this, because the little boy in the picture is doing it!" And she can.
:::
It was Albus's turn to plan and make supper. He chose lasagna, and was agreeable about what went inside. "Meat and cheese," he wanted, and agreed to chicken and roasted red peppers (both of which we had frozen in the freezer), and even though he'd never heard of ricotta, he went along with the suggestion. He set up "stations" at the counter. One station for resting and drinking water. Another for grating cheese. A third without a stool. He also spent a long time chopping veggies for a raw veggie platter, which I've served with great success on a couple of recent occasions. But only because I've been cheating and buying non-local sweet peppers and cucumbers which might be grown in greenhouses in Ontario, but are probably harvested by exploited migrant labour.
:::
Supper was dominated by Fooey and her kikombe cup, which she made at school and brought home with chocolates inside to share. This is what the label said, for those not familiar with the Kwanzaa celebration (like me): "This cup represents a kikombe - a unity cup used in the celebration of Kwanzaa. There is a wrapped goody for each family member in the cup. Pass the cup during the holiday celebration to symbolize your family's unity." We passed the cup as soon as Kevin got home from work on Wednesday (Fooey's last day of school before the holiday). She'd barely managed to wait for him to get home, she was so excited about it. So, the cup obviously means something special to her, and it's not just about the chocolate. Tonight, she asked me whether we could pass the cup and put chocolates in it. I said we could pass the cup and put cucumbers in it, as we were in the middle of supper. She thought that would make the cup messy (she was right), so she agreed to pass it with imaginary chocolates for everyone. But we didn't follow her rules properly, and so every attempt to pass the cup was prematurely halted by a Fooey screech: "Nooooooo!!! Now we have to start again!" "Mmmm, my favourite chocolate candy," was a verboten phrase, for example. This went on and on to the point of intense comedy, until we were all in stitches, even Fooey, who apparently could at least dimly grasp the absurdity of her demands. I'm not sure we ever successfully passed the cup. (Kevin and I both told the kids that neither of us had learned anything about the celebrations of other cultures and religions, when we'd gone to school. The kids were genuinely puzzled. "Hannukhah can be spelled at least seven different ways," AppleApple informed us.)
:::
And there she is, moments ago, fallen asleep in our bed, where we let her read till Fooey falls asleep (they disagree about whether the door should be open or closed when falling off to sleep; plus AA likes to read at length before bed--where did she get that from?).
And if you haven't guessed, yes, you are looking at a genuine Fooey-made replica of a kikombe, above.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I'll Write It Up


Today's "Cabin Fever" column is on best picture books for the holidays. This was a fun one to research and write. Like giving me candy. Hand this mama a book, and she's practically drooling.
ParentDish will be running approximately two "Cabin Fever" columns each week, plus an additional Q&A every other week with someone who is in some way creatively involved with children. My first three interviews have been with: Nicole Dueck, songwriter and musician and teacher, whose kids' CD is titled Lucky Dog; Elisabeth de Mariaffi, children's cookbook author, who writes recipes for Owl and Chickadee, and whose brightly-illustrated and easy-to-use book is called Eat It Up!; and Jirina Marton, who just won the Governor General's Award for illustration for the truly beautiful holiday book called Bella's Tree.
I am loving my conversations with these creative and thoughtful people.
Anyone know of someone who should be sought out and questioned (in the most polite way possible) for their expertise? I'm thinking an interview with a children's yoga or dance teacher would be great. Who would you want to talk to? Whose brain would you want to pick?
I plan to use my column to celebrate, explore, and suggest creative, more-with-less family activities that don't involve screen time.
(Which is ironic, because Albus is beyond desperate to play on the computer, and in fact told me last night that it had been a "bad" day because I hadn't let him do so. This, after we'd rushed to eat supper by 5, so we could go to the school concert to watch him perform as an elf--AppleApple sang, too--after which we came home famished, ate a second meal, and discovered it was already quarter to bedtime. "Albus sad," he kept muttering, reverting to baby talk, as he crouched on his floor surrounded by his oceans of Lego. Though, come to think of it, as soon as I found a spare moment to give him a snuggle, and then we all read together on the couch before bed: "Albus happy." So there you go. I'll write it up as a column.)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Wish Fulfillment

Wish I had time to blog. That's on today's wish list.
If I had more time, I'd write all about Sunday, which was just the best day ever. It shouldn't have been--Kevin and I were out Saturday night, till late, and should have been punished with hang-overs and early-rising rowdy children, but instead, everyone slept in. Everyone! We lazed around and dozed till late, then rose and decided to get on with our day's plans. I'd planned a baking day. So I baked: a batch of bread and granola. Also worked on some Christmas presents. Kevin took the kids--all of them!--snowboarding in what became a drizzling rain, after which they went through the McDonald's drive-through and ordered up some Happy Meals. This happens less than annually in our family, so Kevin and I thought it would be a treat, but the funny thing was, the kids didn't love the food. It felt like a treat because it was unusual, and because everyone got a toy, but Albus was famished AFTER eating his burger and fries and choc milk, and was forced to scavenge a second meal from our fridge. I felt the same way, and so did Kevin; almost as if we'd eaten nothing, or worse, that we were hungrier than when we began. Our innards are spoiled by all the legumes and fibre and veggies and whole grains we consume every day. But, still, I got a kind of lazy pleasure from the meal.
After lunch, we did ... what? I can't recall in detail, just remember that we spent the whole day together, and happily. The two eldest played Bananagrams. Fooey and CJ played together, too. Happy together.
:::
Yesterday, CJ and I spent the morning together, just the two of us, spewing our fair share of carbon as we zoomed around town running errands, snacking on gummies, swimming at kidsplash, visiting the library, efficient as all get-out. These are the days when I despair for humanity's ability to do anything productive on climate change. It is so much easier to enjoy life when I'm selfishly transporting myself and my offspring in our personal oil-burning pod. What occurs to me often, and kind of hangs over my head like a cloud, is my belief that the only way to truly effect carbon change is to live a life greatly scaled back: no waste, ever--no wasted drop of water or food (the people who live like this generally do not choose to, but do so because they have to); walking not driving, no matter the blowing sleet and howling babe; skipping kidsplash and library time because it's too hard to get there, because there's not quite enough time; all chores that must be done by hand still expend energy, it's just human energy (mine), not a machine's. And that takes time. Lots of it. Don't get me wrong, I truly and sincerely want to live a less wasteful lifestyle, and strive to do so, but on days like yesterday, I sigh inside myself, and secretly feel greedy and grateful for the advantages and undeserved privileges of this crazy, unsustainable North American lifestyle I'm living.
Um, that was a tangent. What I meant to say was: hurray for a day with CJ! Together.
:::
Now I'm all caught up. Now I've reached today, and today has been another story. Today I have labelled a "fail" day, though perhaps unfairly. Today it felt like every good intention was thwarted by circumstance. Let me give you an example. I grabbed ten minutes to whip together fresh pumpkin muffins for the kids' after-school-pre-music-lesson snack. It was after one o'clock and I'd just put CJ into his crib for a nap. Did he fall asleep, like he does every other afternoon at this hour? He did not. Instead, he screamed incessantly, while I madly poured and sifted ingredients. I knew the project would never get done if I brought him downstairs, so I just mixed as quickly as was humanly possible. And then I went to get the pumpkin, roasted last week and stored in the fridge. It was covered in mold. No kidding. That was the kind of day this it was. (Though the reason it's unfair to label this chain of events a complete fail is that in a blink I substituted applesauce, and the muffins turned out beautifully, quite possibly superior to the pumpkin variety). And no, CJ never went back to sleep. Instead, he got up and hung out all afternoon without sleep. He's still going strong, leaping up and down in his crib as I type. Though the lack of sleep may have contributed to the rather bad decision (example number two) he made to set up the art-table chairs in front of the couch, and then count, "One, two, three, JUMP!" before leaping off the couch, landing on a chair, crashing it down, and smushing his finger. Seriously. You might ask, why, Perfect Mother, did you not prevent this catastrophe from occurring? (What is that sign on the pool wall? "If you're out of arm's reach, you've gone too far!"). And I might reply that we needed to leave in two minutes to pick up the big kids for piano, and I was industriously gathering entertainment and snack items in preparation for an anticipated hellish hour of waiting in an empty hallway while entertaining three out of four children. That's why. Totally not in a defensive tone of voice.
Yes, we were late.
But hey, I did just get my wish. And I feel much much better. Today is looking a whole lot brighter on this side of things. Can I add that I laughed quite a lot (if sometimes in despair), and that the kids enjoyed my comical descriptions of all the day's tiny calamities as we burned across town, packed into our personal transportation pod, and the snow fell gently, and the roads turned to skating rinks, and we did not get into even the tiniest of fenders bender. So, it wasn't really that kind of day, after all.
From fail to fine in one little blog post.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

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.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Cold Weather Wish List

Warm waterproof mittens for everyone. Neck warmers for school-going children. Thick warm socks. Long-underwear for those who will deign to wear it (ie. me!). Hats that fit. A new winter coat (me, again).
Last night, after supper, the children and Kevin all went outside and played in the bitter cold, sledding down our tiny hill in the dark. Later, I went out for a walk and was reminded how much there is to enjoy about winter, especially after nightfall. The crunch of snow underfoot, the crisp clean-tasting air, the hush. The world is muted. The mind travels inward.
But if you lack the right protective gear, winter is deeply uncomfortable at best, deadly at worst. Keeps a person humble.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"I Told You It Was Winter, Mama!"

One child crashed on couch. Apparently he needs an afternoon nap, after all. Three children making roads in the backyard. Minus 10 degrees Celsius. Loads of blowing snow. I'm glad it's a paradise for some of us.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

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.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sunday Cooking Experiment with Eldest Daughter

I wasn't sure we were up for it. But it was on the calendar: AppleApple's turn to make supper. We'd scheduled it for yesterday, on Sunday, because Kevin was away and working from Thursday night through Saturday evening, and this cooking experiment requires a second parent on hand to entertain those children whose turn it is not. We started with bread dough in the morning. AppleApple agreed to help. Truthfully, I was so lethargic and unfocused after that time alone with the kids, I wouldn't have managed to bake bread otherwise--and that's my new weekend goal: bake bread and bake cookies.
AppleApple is amazing at bread-baking. Has all kinds of opinions about what extras we should add in to make this batch different than the last one. When I told her that some people wouldn't believe that a seven-year-old could bake bread that looks and tastes like her bread, she was flabbergasted. It seems so easy. Measure, mix, knead. (With help from mama). This bread has rye flakes, and sunflower and flax seeds. It rose up beautifully, and we made four loaves for the week.
While the bread was rising, I took Albus shopping for winter boots. We had to drive around a bit, and he ended up, at the second store, deciding that the only boot in the store that was in his size would do (seriously! And the first store had precisely zero boots in his size). We were home in time for me to deliver Fooey to her first friend birthday party, which had her thrilled with excitement for days leading up to the big event. While she was out, I baked piles of oatmeal choc chip cookies. Kev went to pick up Fooey with Albus and CJ, and Fooey ran through our front door shouting that her little friend "has a daddy! And he's really nice!" I got all the details at bedtime: musical chairs, a treasure hunt, what her friend's basement playroom looked like, and on and on. She has no difficulty separating from us and doing her own thing.
AppleApple and I started on our cooking around 3pm, and worked till almost 6. I finished the cookie-baking while she started prepping ingredients. She chose a seasonal menu that did not require us to leave the house to find ingredients. She used the Simply In Season Children's Cookbook. On the menu: Tater Soup, Granny Apple Rice, and Secret Chocolate Cake. "Tatter soup," was how she pronounced it. That required scraping and cleaning nine smallish potatoes and four large carrots (we doubled the recipe). I appreciated how straightforward she was about her desire and ability to do certain tasks: for example, she told me that she didn't feel confident chopping some of the vegetables. She worked very hard. She scrapped and cleaned two large beets for the secret chocolate cake. She peeled four apples for the rice. It was all very labour-intensive, but I noticed something: I didn't mind using extra pots and pans and kitchen implements with someone else around to appreciate and enjoy the labours, and I didn't feel impatient at all.
Which I note because I'd felt very impatient when I was in the vehicle running errands that morning (not with Albus, mind you, but with the situation of sitting in the vehicle, waiting at stoplights, having to drive across town, etc.).
But as we worked together, and talked and planned, and measured and made decisions, it felt like we had all the time in the world at our disposal.
The meal was delicious. The soup was creamy and smooth. The rice was sweet and savoury. The bread was tall and chewy. The dessert was decadent.
Next up: Fooey. It will be interesting to see what my four-year-old brings to the table (literally as well as metaphorically). She says she's already got her menu planned. I wonder whether it will resemble her favourite outfits, when she picks out her clothes in the morning: a skirt, a dress, a shirt, a, sweater, tights, and socks.