Family dinner is a fantastic thing. Unfortunately (brace yourself, I'm about to let you down) we don't sit at the table and have them very often. Um, actually never. We did for a while, but for whatever reason we haven't found a dining table set up that keeps that role. Instead it's covered in fabric or another project. Right now it's just sitting in a room that doesn't heat very well, so that room stays blocked off through the winter. I know, weird. Whatever.
But the past 2 nights we've made dinner as a family. That, my friends, makes for some spectacular fun while working the kid's brain and forcing C and I to maintain a steady and heaping helping of patience.
Some ground rules: Mabel isn't allowed to get near the stove. She's not allowed to use knives, either. She's a great helper with stirring, kneading dough, and, when all else fails, sweeping the floor. Inviting a toddler in the kitchen makes for messy cooking--none of that clean-as-you-go stuff. The extra bits of time go into engaging her young, active mind.
Sunday we spent the day being lazy and doing whatever we wanted,randomly convening in the kitchen to work on the simmering from-scratch chicken noodle soup. Mabel's job? Take the pasta dough and roll it into little balls, then help roll it out through the pasta roller.
So she's 2 and she's already helped Mama make buttermilk biscuits, egg pasta, and turned masa into tortillas. Now that's a family dinner tradition I think we can keep.