I am a Cooker Man

 

For some reason when my son refers to himself by using this sentence, I can’t help but think of the Beatles, “I am the Walrus”.

It has taken me becoming a mom to actually become a somewhat decent cook.   The kitchen was never my favorite place to be, the work was just too overwhelming, one slight screw up with a recipe and the meal was a loss, the pressure was just too much.   My husband; however, loves the kitchen.  He’s a mechanical engineer, but would love to be a chef in his own restaurant.

Davey cooking 8

On our second date, he cooked for me.   It was wonderful and he’d used no recipe.   He’s the type to open a fridge, throw a bunch of stuff together and then make the most magnificent meal you’ve ever tasted.   A few weeks later, with my room mate out of town, I decided to make a romantic dinner at home for my boyfriend (soon to be husband).  I went easy…spaghetti, but decided to make my mother’s homemade sauce which required an all day cooking.

Davey cooking 11

My husband ate the entire dinner.  It wasn’t until after, as I was cleaning the kitchen, when he asked me about the sauce.   I walked him through the entire recipe, and then he asked about the grease from the meat.   What did I do with it?   I stared at him a bit dumbfounded.   Grease?  The recipe never mentioned grease.   What was he talking about?   Basically those are the exact words I used with him.  It was then that he grabbed the pot of sauce and showed me the film over the top of it.   Oops.   From that point forward in our relationship, I stayed out of the kitchen.

DAvey cooking 6

Flash forward a few years.  I’ve left my corporate America job to stay home with our son, Davey.   Whether it be out of necessity, guilt, or a desire to be better mom and wife, I learned how to cook.   I’m no Rachel Ray or Bobby Flay.   I can’t just whip things up.  I do have to follow a recipe, but I’ve actually become somewhat decent at cooking, actually I’m probably a step above decent.

Davey cooking 10

The great thing about me learning to cook is that Davey has always been very hands on with me in the kitchen.   This year for Christmas, he received his own personal set of cooking utensils, and he knew exactly what each was to be used for.  He doesn’t like the term chef, but instead prefers to call himself Cooker Man.

Davey cooking 4

Over our past couple of years in the kitchen, I’ve observed a few things with Davey.   This is probably the one activity he focuses on the most.   It’s the one activity where he awaits instructions, doesn’t trudge ahead.   It’s the one activity where he’s very intent on the task at hand.   He follows the rules and order of the ingredients.   He’s cautious, walking through his checklist when operating the stove.   He doesn’t try to touch a knife, instead just leaving it alone.  And he has such pride in his work.   At 4 years old, he’s attempting to beautifully plate the food.   “It’s in the presentation, mom,” he once said to me.   I didn’t know that he knew what the sentence meant.

DAvey cooking 5

He questions different ingredients, asking about their tastes and then determining if they would go well together.   I literally watch as he looks off into space and contemplates the combinations of different ingredients.  I can see the wheels turning inside his brain.   Days when he becomes so inquisitive and contemplative, I find myself forgetting that he’s only 4 years old.

Davey cooking 12

A few days ago, I commented to him that I didn’t know how to make my own eggs until I was in college.   He’s already learning how to properly make an omelet, which is good because it means I’m also learning how to properly make one as well.   Our time in the kitchen has been invaluable.   We learn together, we encourage each other, and at times he manages to show me a thing or two.   I learn more about him when we’re in the kitchen.   He loves to tell stories of the day, what he did at school, who is friends are, and so forth.

Davey cooking 9

My little Cooker Man is becoming quite the pro and I’m proud of him.   Who knows?   He may be the Doser to open his own restaurant and be the head chef.

Welcome Back, Jasper

My father in law has a “thing”, I suppose you can say, about nicknames for his grandsons.   When Davey was born, he nicknamed him Jasper.   When Henry was born he nicknamed him Higgins.   Now, I know where Higgins comes from…My Fair Lady, Professor Henry Higgins.   Jasper?  Not quite so sure.

So, when Davey became old enough to start speaking, he referred to himself as Jasper when around his Guh Guh (my father-in-law).  It’s endearing for Davey and truthfully I enjoy it.   When my sister-in-law purchased an Elf on the Shelf for Davey years ago, we needed a name for the Elf and Davey immediately jumped on the name Jasper.

Jasper resting atop the miniature Elf tree.
Jasper resting atop the miniature Elf tree.

With the onset of the holiday season and my decorating, Jasper was pulled out of storage and found his way onto the top of our Christmas tree.  Last night, when the boys got back home from church, I pointed Jasper out and explained his importance.  I suppose since Davey is older, he grasps the concept and I now find myself falling prey to the whole “Elf on the Shelf” ideas for this Christmas season.

When putting the boys to bed last night, I read the story about the Elf on the Shelf, substituting in Jasper’s name where relevant.  Davey became extremely excited.  He wanted to know if Jasper would really magically fly away and come back in the morning.   I told him, “of course,” and that Jasper’s sole responsibility is to tell Santa all about how well he’s behaved.

This morning when Davey awoke, he darted off to the bathroom and while on his way excitedly asked if Jasper was in a different place.   My first thought was, “oh crap!  I was supposed to move Jasper!   Crap!  Crap! Crap!”   I told Davey that Jasper was in a new place and that he could find him AFTER he brushed his teeth and put on his clothes, thereby buying me some time to unimaginatively move Jasper.

Where did Jasper end up?  On the elf tree in the kitchen.  I know, very lackluster on my part, but I can already tell I will fail miserably at this.   When the boys came downstairs, Davey immediately found Jasper, and heeding the words from the story, kept his hands behind his back, lest he be tempted to touch Jasper and force him to lose his magical abilities.   As I made breakfast, both boys sat in the floor looking at Jasper on the elf tree.  I asked what they were doing and Davey exclaimed, “seeing if we can watch some of his magic.”

Trying to spy some of Jasper's magic.
Trying to spy some of Jasper’s magic.

After school today, Davey asked me if Jasper saw how nice he was to his classmates and if Jasper would tell Santa.  Once again, I replied, “of course,” but secretly I’m already not liking Jasper.   We’re roughly six weeks away from Christmas.  That’s 42 days in which I will be required to remember to move Jasper each night when the boys go to bed.   That’s 42 days that I’ll have to despise all of you creative moms with your cute Elf on the Shelf pictures and your ability to actually remember to do this.   That’s 42 days of me constantly reassuring Davey that Jasper will not do him wrong.   That’s 42 days of pure hell as I’m frantically trying to remember and come up with great places for Jasper.

I’m only one day into our Elf on the Shelf.  One day, and I’m already despising the little flying pixie.   Stay tuned to see if I can manage to keep up the fiasco.

Kitchen Talk

In my short amount of years as a mom, I’ve learned a few things.   First, you don’t ever offer a toddler options…he’ll always choose poorly.   Second, snacks after 4 in the afternoon spell imminent doom for those of us hoping to enjoy a peaceful family dinner, and third…you learn a lot about your child when cooking together in the kitchen.

Allowing his little brother to help melt the marshmallows.
Allowing his little brother to help melt the marshmallows.

From the moment Davey was old enough to help in the kitchen, I had him with me.   I was a new and inexperienced cook at that point, eager to start a new adventure with my child.   I voraciously poured through websites, Pinterest, and our cookbooks looking for easy, yet fun and healthy things I could cook with my little one.   I wanted to create memories, to be the fun mom, to have something to do as a stay at home mom.   I wanted to document our cooking fiascos with my new camera and my insatiable desire to write.   The kitchen was my stage, my prop, the backdrop to my coolness as a stay at home mom.   What I didn’t know was how much I would learn from cooking with my son.

Adding in more marshmallows.
Adding in more marshmallows.

Before he could even speak, he was lining muffin pans, tossing cut up apples into batter, dipping his finger into icing and licking the spoon and bowl.  When I would suggest we make something, he would jump, grab his monster apron, a stool, and an eagerness greater than anything I’d ever seen.   One would think when starting in the kitchen with your littles, you would pick something easy, a Betty Crocker brownie, Pillsbury premade, precut cookies, or a Duncan Hines cupcake mix.   Me?  Well, I don’t like to start small, my goals are high and lofty, so we started with a made from scratch apple muffin recipe.   It took us nearly two hours, but we made some of the best apple muffins I’ve ever tasted and Davey was hooked.

A continual process of mixing and stirring.
A continual process of mixing and stirring.

Back then, he didn’t talk much.  These days; however, are much more different   These days, my son loves to talk about what he’s measuring, how he’s going to bake it, cook it, or grill it, how to decorate it, and who gets what.  This past week, I learned a lot more than I bargained for, especially about Davey’s fellow classmates and his teachers.

All ready to be cut out.
All ready to be cut out.

In celebration of Halloween, I decided we would make Rice Krispie treats for his class.  I decided to make them in the shapes of pumpkins and bats and decorate them with chocolate and candy eyes.   I even bought cake decorating pens to help with the faces.   As usual, Davey jumped right in, his brother even helping out, but the true fun for me didn’t really start until Henry was napping and Davey and I were left alone to decorate the treats.

The cut product.
The cut product.

For the better part of an hour, I spent the afternoon with my oldest son listening to him as he decorated the Rice Krispie treats.   He told me about the two Annas in his class, one of whom I knew from last year.   He picked out the pumpkin each one could have and told me the reasons behind giving them their pumpkins.  He told me stories of the boys in his class, how one always makes him laugh, how another one is really quiet.   He picked out bats for his two teachers and told little anecdotes about the things that he likes best about them.   I learned who he likes to sit alongside, who he plays with the most, who makes him sad and why, and what his favorite part about each person is in his class.  This was truly the first time when I wanted to put down the camera, the laptop and phone.   This was the first time in our cooking when I just wanted to totally immerse myself in the moment, the being, with my son, and savor every little morsel he wanted to share with me.

The bats.
The bats.

This was more than just a memory to be created.   This was more than just an adventure, or an excuse to write.   This was my opportunity to really get to know my son.  This was an opportunity I hope to recreate again for years to come as his love for the kitchen grows, but it was also an opportunity for a mother and son bonding experience that may one day go away as he gets older.   Needless to say, if you’ve had some sort of influence in Davey’s life, be it good or bad, then I’m likely to hear about it in the kitchen, while we cook, and dissect the events of the days.

The pumpkins that look like monsters.
The pumpkins that look like monsters.

Kitchen talk…it truly is a magical time.

***as you can see, there are no pictures from the actual cutting or decorating.   I was too wrapped up in the stories I was being told.***