Cooking Dinner with a Toddler: Integrating Sensory Play into Everyday Activities

March 2, 2015

One of the many reasons that I cook dinner with Ava is that it gives us an excellent opportunity to integrate sensory play into our everyday life. She loves washing her hands at the sink (she sits on the counter, with her feet in the sink while I hold her) and protests whenever I turn the faucet off. She loves fishing for vegetables in a pot of water. She loves crinkling the onion and garlic skin. She loves digging in the cabinets and shopping bags for treasures – last night, she crawled into a cabinet until the only thing I could see were her legs. She loves smushing the bread dough and pulling pieces off. She loves smelling the spices and her empty jar of vanilla.

I could replicate all these experiences outside the context of cooking dinner. There are amazing sensory and artistic activities online, cool toys like water and sand tables, and pricy preschools that focus on experiential learning, but I wouldn’t have the time to do this every single day if it did not fit into our routines and necessities.

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Cooking Dinner with a Toddler: The How

March 1, 2015

I cook dinner pretty much every night during the week. It’s not always easy, but there is a limit to how often we can patronize Maharaja Palace. As you might imagine, or as you might know from first-hand experience, cooking dinner with a baby or a toddler has its idiosyncracies.

I’ve learned to think about the sequence of meal preparation in a whole different way. What can I do with Ava in my arms? What can I do WITH Ava on the floor? What do I have to do by myself (or with Ava strapped to my back) at counter height? What can Ava do to entertain herself while I am chopping vegetables? When do I absolutely have to put Ava in her safe space for a minute?

This is how we do it.

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Making Dinner with a Toddler: Sweet Potato Cabbage Daal, Red Kale, Slaw & Chicken

February 26, 2015

Step 1: Go pick up our CSA! Ava can walk with me now. She loves to check out the purple lights at the bar, stop and play peek a boo through the window with patrons, and rearrange the onions and potatoes at Harlem Shambles. Mama puts all the onions and potatoes back where they belong. She helps me pull the vegetables out of our CSA box, pulls my wallet and keys out of my shopping bag, and tries to escape 5-6 times. On the way back, she experiments with sitting down and lying down on the sidewalk and I encourage her to stand up again.

Step 2: Pop the chicken legs in the oven at 400 degrees while Ava starts unloading the CSA vegetables from our shopping bag.

Step 3: Notice that Ava has already started ripping the red kale apart and get out a pot of water and the salad spinner so we can wash, dry and rip the kale together. Ava is very industrious and spends lots of time transferring kale between the pot of water, the salad spinner and the floor. I rewash kale as we go. When Ava is ready, she puts the lid on the salad spinner and spins it very vigorously. I confiscate the kale so that she can’t put it back on the floor.

Step 4: As Ava is happily ripping up and redistributing kale, and taking occasional stair climbing breaks (prompting instant attention from mama), I start peeling a sweet potato. I stop to pull Ava off the stairs, change her diaper, nurse her, show her the sweet potato, remove her from the trash can, wash her hands at the sink, clean up all the water on the floor from giving the kale a bath in step 3, change her diaper and wet clothes, nurse her, read a few books, chase her, and nurse her. Peeling this sweet potato takes a very long time.

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Ch-Ch-Ch Changes!

February 24, 2015

Since moving back to New York, I have concluded that I was and am not such a half-spouse after all. My domestic output is about the same, as is the approximate amount of time I spend doing fun stuff with my husband. It turns out that I only have so much time and energy, and that is okay.

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Two Homes, Half a Spouse

February 26, 2012

Sometimes I feel like half a spouse.

I go back and forth, forgetting to write the rent check, leaving my chores half-finished, overcompensating with homemade bread and candlelit dinners.

Sometimes I come back for a night, watch Jerry play, and then I’m gone in the morning. Jerry says it feels like a dream. I’m awake when I leave, so I remember.

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Jerry’s Album is Here!

February 14, 2012

Jerry’s album came out today, and I’m so proud of him.

Take a look, and download it. I promise that it’s awesome.

Fighting for You


Ambition Squared: The Album

December 13, 2011

I’ve been thinking about what Meg has to say about ambition squared, about how a solid partnership can give you the courage to chase your dreams and turn them into reality.

I think Jerry‘s hitting that point now. After years of piano gigging and vocal coaching and supporting everyone’s musical dreams but his own, he’s finally working on his first album. And it’s good. It’s really, really good.

He’s doing almost everything himself: songwriting, recording, laying down drum and guitar tracks, and then editing hundreds of tracks until the song coming through the speakers matches the song in his head.

Jerry would have done this on his own sooner or later, but it helps to have someone who absolutely believes in what you are doing. It’s so easy to let your own work drift to the margins.

The album’s coming out in January. It’s called Fighting for You, and it’s fucking amazing.


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