It was a nutty, crazy, zooey, and in all other ways chaotic weekend in our house, mainly due to the fact that my Saturday was swallowed up by rehearsals and performances. (And, I must admit, a late-night outing with some pals, something I haven’t done in so long that I had to dig into the back of my closet to find my sense of fun and adventure.) Obviously, I didn’t have a lot of time this weekend for lots of creativity in the kitchen, nor major kid-and-food revelations, or anything else of that ilk. Life moved along, I got some stuff done, some cookies were baked, everyone got fed. At some point, I managed to mop the floors. I drank a lot of coffee. I didn’t get enough sleep.
Now Monday has dawned and it’s time to get back to the blog. I’m still sleepy. I didn’t get to do anything fabulous, food-wise, that’s worth writing about. But as always, life presented me with wonderful moments when I wasn’t looking for them, and this morning I celebrate those things by crafting the following list of The Weekend’s Top Ten Kids and Food Moments (in no particular order).
10. Friday night: lack of fend, again (my family is eating a lot more than they used to). Chicken quesadillas, salsa, and fruit made it to the table in a hurry. Despite my internal fretting (“is it enough? There’s no good vegetable! Why didn’t I plan better?”), it was probably the best dinner of the whole week — calm, unhurried, with two kids who cheerfully cleaned their plates and asked for more. We listened to Christmas music and stayed at the table longer than usual. P. entertained us all with funny faces. Clean-up was a breeze. I remembered to breathe.
9. We bought eggnog this weekend, for the first time this season. I know it’s terrible, but I can’t make it through Christmas without a little eggnog in my life (or in my coffee). P., on tasting his first sip: “Mmm. MMMMM. More!?!?!?!?!” He then ran to the refrigerator, tried to wrench it open (hilariously, he can’t even reach the handle), and when I opened it and picked him up, he grabbed for the eggnog carton. “That! That!” I had the giggles for about ten minutes, watching him run around like he was on some sort of eggnog bender.
8. Eggnog redux: L. loves the stuff and is allowed a small amount as a treat. He had some on Sunday. Later in the day, he saw J. drinking a cupful and asked for more. I braced myself for the whining onslaught as I explained that eggnog isn’t good for our bodies, but is nice to enjoy once in a while; my sage little boy surprised me by nodding. “I will have some again another time,” he said, and hopped down from his chair to play.
7. I’m always nervous about how meals will go when I’m not home, not because I don’t trust J. (who’s one of the world’s most excellent fathers), but because we’re so accustomed to eating our meals as a family that the boys sometimes get whiny and overwrought when one or the other parent is missing from the dinner table. On Sunday morning, I noticed that there was only a very, very small portion of barbecued pork in the refrigerator. I asked J., “Is that all that’s left from last night?” and he reported that he and the boys had 1) loved the dinner; and 2) eaten tremendously. Full tummies, happy faces, good night. Mommy relief.
6. When L. and I were preparing to make Christmas cookies yesterday afternoon, P. wandered into the kitchen. He observed me setting out the mixing bowls and ingredients, as L. pushed a stool up to the counter. We hadn’t said a word about our intentions in front of him, but P.’s a sharp little person. He grinned at me. “Ohhh. Too-ties!”
5. Cookie-baking, part 2: It was the first time that both of my boys have “helped” me bake. With L. on his stool and P. perched on the counter next to me, we made both a spectacular mess and a gorgeous batch of oatmeal raisin.
4. Cookie testing: The boys each got to taste one of their creations before we packed the cookies up and stashed them in the freezer for Christmas. My mom called in the midst of the taste test; when she asked L. if the cookies were any good, he shoved half of his into his mouth and nodded at the phone. (Apparently, he’s still unaware that Gramma can’t hear his brains rattling.) “L.,” she persisted, “Are they delicious, or what?” L. swallowed. “No, Gramma,” he said. “Just delicious.”
3. Cookie testing, Part 2: P. must be genetically programmed to dunk cookies in milk. It’s a trick I’ve never shown him, but yesterday, he insisted on having an OPEN cup of milk (as opposed to a sippy cup), and as soon as I presented it to him, he shoved his cookie wrist-deep into the milk and went to town.
2. We’ve got a dipper. Not only did P. dip his cookie into his milk (and lately, he’s taken to asking for things like ketchup and guacamole whenever they’re available), but he saw me eating some multigrain chips and salsa and immediately clambered into my lap. Within seconds, he had a chip in his hand and was plunging it into the organic hot salsa in my dish. He very helpfully polished off quite a bit of my snack for me.
1. Last night’s dinner…lovely, complete, colorful, and normal. After a couple of hectic days, it’s always nice to sit down around the table with everyone and look down at a plate of fresh, homemade food. Parmesan chicken cutlets, ditalini with homemade pesto, and sauteed spinach with grape tomatoes made me, J. and both boys happy — even if P.’s major occupation, throughout the meal, was trying to thread the ditalini onto the tines of a fork like stringing beads. Sunday dinner always restores harmony and balance to our little kingdom.
With two weeks left until Christmas, I know so many of us are going to be experiencing more and more chaos and increasingly hectic schedules as we try to cram in all the things that need doing before the holidays. I hope we all remember to take time to notice these small moments along the way and give them the importance they’re due. Too often, the little things get lost in the excitement and stress, but this is the stuff we’re really celebrating, after all.