Robert was absent from dinner tonight. Usually, this means that I throw some chicken strips in the oven and pair them with a vegetable and some yogurt. Getting creative with dinner when the only people around to appreciate it are single-digits, is usually unfulfilling. I have one little boy who is a picky eater, and a little girl who does whatever her brother does. Trying out a new recipe on them often results in me adding peanut butter crackers to the menu in the middle of the meal just to fill their little bellies.
Tonight, though, I was feeling a little depressed that Robert was having to leave us in the middle of a Saturday (you have no idea how much I look forward to our family weekends) and decided that I needed to do something different to cheer myself up. So, I decided that the kids and I would make pizza together. The whole adventure went very well, even though Nolan lost interest after the dough was spread out on the pan. He was feeling torn between making pizza and playing 'policeman'. In the end, 'policeman' won.
1. Provide stools for the cooks with short legs. I got these at Ikea and I LOVE them! I really just wanted an excuse to post a picture of them. I love how simple they look and they are the best stools for the kids! Both Abby and Nolan use them numerous times a day, usually to reach the sink, but occasionally to get into things that they aren't supposed to touch or put in their mouths (like two whole pieces of gum that someone irresponsibly left sitting on the counter).
2. Prepare all of the ingredients beforehand. Kids have short attention spans and won't want to wait for you to dig for the salt in your unorganized spice cabinet or search the toy box for your 1/2 cup measuring cup.
3. Provide miniature aprons. In the end, you do this only because it's so darn cute. Their clothes are going to be covered in flour and tomato sauce when it's time to put the food in the oven, with or without aprons.
4. Forget the rules and let them do things like sit on the counter. It will be more fun for them if they feel like they're getting to do something that they aren't usually allowed to do.
5. Sing songs while waiting for the yeast to do it's magic. Five minutes is a long time to people 32 and under.
6. Identify the best part of the recipe process and let go of your control issues. If the cooks are the only ones eating the finished product, who cares if six hands are handling the dough?
7. Regain your control issues when your son asks if he can throw the dough because it looks like a ball.
8. Take many moments to practice being present. It's so easy to get caught up in the 'how it's supposed to go' aspects of these kind of projects that we sometimes forget to have any fun!
9. Laugh at the mess, because there will be one, and it will likely be big. Everything can be cleaned up.
10. If you're making pizza, like we did, make sure your kid doesn't clump all of the cheese and ham in the middle of the pizza. When they tell you to stop moving the cheese and ham that they so meticulously placed on their little piece of art, just ignore them and do it anyway.
11. Force the kid that lost interest to come back for a picture before you put the food in the oven. Ignore the fact that he's wearing a different shirt because the other one was covered in flour.
12. Take a picture of the enormous mess. Kick yourself for not getting the floor, or the flour covered stools in the picture.
13. Enjoy the finished product together!
14. Tell your kids to close their eyes when they take a bite. Who eats pizza with their eyes open?!
Thank you to Carl and Maureen for the kiwi seen on the table! Nolan especially loved it! It's one of his favorite fruits!