Cooking with Kids

I love to cook.  I love to cook for my family, my friends, and myself.  For me, cooking for you is how I show you that I care–so if you’ve been the recipient of my baked goods, that is why!  (If you haven’t, it’s probably because you don’t live near me…)

When my nieces and nephews were younger, I used to love getting them to help me with child-friendly foods.

Ale used to help me all the time too!  This was mainly because she was always underfoot–I could put her up on the counter, and she would happily play with spoons, measuring cups, and rice.  Sometimes, she would be TOO happy, and I quickly learned to be careful what was within her reach.  I

March 2015 Ale making biscuits and gravy with Mami.

When Ale was around a year and a half/ two years old, I bought her a cheap kitchen from the local store.  We put it in the kitchen with me, and she would “cook” while I cooked.  To be honest, Ale still plays with her kitchen!  She makes baby food for her dolls and pretend food for us.

This week I planned our menu before grocery shopping.  We are eating around the world: Sushi, Pizza, Tacos, Beans and Cornbread.  Last night was a pizza night, and Ale asked to help me.  Pizza is easy, right?  It’s the perfect recipe to cook with a kid!

But Kid#2 also decided to help.  She’s really selfish with Mama right now, and wants to do everything Big Sis does.

So, there I was: One kid in one chair, another kid in another chair, me in the middle and all of our pizza goodies on the table in front of us.  Ale is super careful now when she helps me, and I take that for granted.  But Jojo had holes in the dough, hands in the sauce, and stole the package of pepperoni after we put some on her pizza.

I gathered up all the ingredients and stored them as quickly as I could in the kitchen.

Not quick enough.

“Mama! Josie’s making a mess!” I heard from the other room.  Jojo had the flour, and had poured about a cup of it out onto the table.  She saw me, grinned, then began smearing her hand through it with the finesse of a window washer.

It was that moment that I realized I had two options: 1) Holler and try in vain to stop the disaster that was my table and floor OR 2) Let her have fun with the flour.

October 2017 Jojo making a mess…

I chose fun.

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A Few Monday Morning Thoughts

I woke up this morning to the news of another shooting in the United States: 50 dead and over 200 injured.  Then a friend on Facebook posted something about how the U.S. really IS helping Puerto Rico, and how you shouldn’t watch CNN.  When I arrived to school, it was to received the news of a fellow teacher who passed away last night after the most gallant fight with cancer.  He has a little girl Ale’s age, and another in fourth grade.

I can’t imagine.  I can’t imagine losing my husband.  I can’t imagine my children being without their papi.

I was thinking about Rafa last night.  I had heard last week that they had news of the cancer spreading.  He was also dealing with a lot of depression.  And last night, as I drifted to sleep, snuggled between my two perfect little bundles, I made a plan to send him some books.  Not books for him to read for his own pleasure, but books to read with his girls.  Because those little girls deserve sweet memories of being with their dad at the end of his life.

The biggest difference I can see between having kids and when I didn’t have kids is the way I look at disaster.  I look at events happening and think, what if that were my daughter.  It makes me more empathetic and way more scared to judge others.

What if it were my daughters who lost their homes in a storm?

What if it were my daughters who didn’t have clean water to drink or enough to eat?

What if it were my daughters couldn’t go back to school for weeks?

What if it were my daughters adjusting to life without electricity?

What if my daughters went to a concert and never came home?

What if my daughters were in the wrong place at the wrong time?

More than anything, I see events like those I read today (mass shootings), and I think, “Why are we moving back to that?!”  I know that Mexico is in the U.S. News often, and in an ugly light.  But (usually) when there are events of mass killings here, they are connected to drug cartels.  You don’t often read about innocent people being plowed down by home-grown terrorists.

I read about the drug issues that are rampant in East Tennessee, and I get scared.  I get scared when I hear that schools are putting “over-dose kits” in each location within Knox County.  I get scared when I hear that cops are carrying over-dose medicine in Jeff County.  I get scared when I think of the number of people who carry guns.  I get scared when I think of my little girls growing up in that environment.

I know living in fear isn’t the way to go about life either.  Fear robs us of our peace–and the Lord knows that we need peace during these crazy times!!

I don’t even know how to end this post.  Perhaps with a plea that you pray for everyone suffering today.  Because the problems that you and I deal with on an everyday basis are small and rather insignificant when you compare them to the problems all around us.