July 23, 2014

Making Mondays

Lola has been loving to help me "make" stuff in the kitchen lately, so I thought I'd be planful about the two of us doing at least one cooking or baking project together each Monday. Because then we can use alliteration. And call it Making Mondays.

(Side note: Mondays are really no good for this other than for the alliteration part. My house is clean-ish on Mondays. Later in the week would be more ideal and help me be cool(er) with the mess.)


This week, we kicked off Making Mondays with strawberry cucumber lemonade popsicles. Not too complex, plus it was a bazillion degrees out on Monday. So, during her nap, I prepped our ingredients: strawberries that we had picked a few weeks ago that were in the freezer, cucumbers, and lemonade. I've found that prepping everything ahead is key because once we start, Lola just wants to keep adding and doing "MORE!" She has no patience for me peeling cucumbers or trying to open a new jug of lemonade.

When she woke up, I laid out a dishtowel on the floor and put her equipment on it (a plastic immersion blender cup, a spoon, and her first ingredient). Our kitchen is way too small for a learning tower or whatever they call those things. I think she'd love one. But working on the floor works better in our house. And it cracks me up watching her get comfortable to do her work.

She started by happily transporting the cucumbers into the cup with the spoon.

Then did the same with the strawberries, which she proved to enjoy just as much and take just as seriously as the cucumbers. Me? I tried to not care about the juicy strawberries falling onto my mostly white dishtowel during transportation. These making adventures are a real test in patience and letting go for me. But I'm trying my best, and I didn't say anything about the spillage. Because after all, this kid is 2. And her little hand helping hold the strawberries onto the spoon was too freaking cute.

She poured (rather, quickly dumped) the lemonade in, gave everything a good old stir, and then wanted to pour the whole mixture back into the glass measuring cup that had made its way to her work space.

But that wasn't how I was going to do it!

Without thinking, without restraint, I said "Oh, we're done with this part. Now Mommy has to blend it up."

Ha. Right. Lola wasn't done.

I let her pour this whole concoction back and forth between the two vessels for a while, and eventually couldn't take it anymore.

So, I confiscated our popsicle mixture.

I averted crisis and allowed Making Monday to continue by quickly giving her some water, extra cucumber, and chopped scallions to play around with. And Lola created her own making project. And I happily finished the freezing portion of our project.

Thanks to Zoku, we were eating our pops within 5 minutes.

I'm loving that Lola seemingly loves something that I love, and I'm excited to try to foster it. While getting lots of practice in relinquishing control. :)

Good luck, Sarah.

July 13, 2014

Expectations and a Trip to the A to Z Pizza Farm

I get these grand visions in my head of how things will go down. I like to plan fun excursions. Then I envision perfect weather, only cooperation from the other members of my clan (particularly from my two year old), and general smooth sailing.

Things don't always go the way I envision.

Like last weekend, when we went strawberry picking. I'd been looking forward to it for a while, and thought it would be a super fun family outing. I envisioned the three of us driving out to the country, riding a tractor to the fields, and all happily picking strawberries together.

Well, we ended up driving out to the country. We also rode a tractor, but had to bribe Lola with iPhone videos to sit there before it even left the loading area. We got to the fields, were assigned our row to pick, and then I was left standing there alone while Lola decided the pipe that ran along the field was most interesting. I was left there alone, with my pregnant belly, to pick EIGHT pounds of strawberries. On the ground. On my hands and knees. In the hot sun. By myself.

Because Lola had shown signs of trouble on the tractor ride (and because I have to pee every half hour right now), I felt a huge sense of urgency to get those berries picked as quickly as possible. So I scrambled. And tried to stay ahead of Lola, who kept swiping from my stash. (Mo staw-bees?)

I persevered, Lola ate about 100 strawberries, and Zach managed to get some good photos of the whole thing. It actually ended up being a good outing and we avoided any major meltdowns, but it didn't go exactly as I had envisioned it would. Because I have a two year old, obvi. I forget this sometimes. (How two year olds are, not that I have one.)

So, this week we had planned to go to the A to Z Pizza Farm in Stockholm, WI. Coming off of the strawberry picking trip, I had reigned in my expectations a bit.

The pizza farm excursion required some careful planning and impeccable execution. They're only open on Tuesdays. It's a good 1:45 drive from Minneapolis. And you have to get there early to avoid waiting 2 hours for your pizza, according to their website. (This required Zach to leave work early which was a huge hurdle in itself.) But we all got in the car on time. Lola hung in there for the drive. We only made one wrong turn and quickly corrected our course. We got there before there were swarms of people.

And from there out, the excursion not only lived up to my expectations, but exceeded them. Whoa.

Sometimes, everything actually goes perfectly.

The weather was fantastic--warm but not hot, clear, dry.

And it's beautiful out there--have you been?

The pizza wait was only 30 minutes, which we easily killed by watching the cows and making sure Lola didn't touch any electrical fences.

There were enough people to make it feel really festive, but not too many that it felt crowded.

There were no bugs. (How?)

The strawberry shortcake I made and brought along was divine.

And Lola nicely sat on the picnic blanket the whole time we ate. (Again, how?)

It was complete perfection. And I wish we could go every Tuesday. So does Lola. She just asked today after lunch about the "peet-a arm."

Details: A to Z Pizza Farm. Only Tuesdays, through the Fall, from 4:30-8. Stockholm, WI (about 1 hr 45 from SW Mpls). BYO everything except pizza and alcohol, which you can get there. Take all of your garbage home. Cash or check.