Their First Meal

December 31, 2009


Yesterday was a big day. A big big day

No one lost any teeth, or rode a bike for the first time. No one hit a home run or learned to read. No, this was even better.

My boys, start to finish, decked out in all their culinary finest, cooked a meal start to finish.

Oh a mama’s pride.

Chicken stew was the menu, and there was so much excitement in the air that you would have thought that they were going to Disney World for the first time.


They rinsed the vegetables, peeled the carrots, chopped the celery and onions (Jacob apparently did not realize that they make your eyes water, so that put a slight delay in the process), and put it all into the pan.


They sauteed, and spiced, which was a huge thrill. They knew that they were big boys who had proved themselves in the kitchen when mama let them stand in front of the stove to stir their meal.

They poured the liquid in, and spent the rest of the day enjoying the smells of their hard work. Once their task was finished, they promptly announced that they would like for me to make them a puffy chef hat, and could I please do it quickly. I hadn’t realized that they had ever seen one, but this is apparently a very big deal, so I suppose that I will have to whip out Meg’s new book and put one together for each of them.

The boys also reassured their dad and I that if we are ever sick at the same time, that all we have to do is ask, and they will make us our favorite chicken stew. I tell you, I am not sure how much luckier we could be.


The past week has also been wonderful for me to witness just how much my boy’s have fallen into a rhythm with their own hand work. I felt like the boring gift giver when I presented them each with a wooden peg loom for Christmas (please explain to me how anyone can compete with getting skis?). I thought that it would go into a corner, and would have to wait until the novelty of the “cooler” gifts wore off. So, I was surprised when the day after Christmas, I found Jacob on the sofa trying to string his loom for the first time.

He has worked on it every day since, and Elwood as well. The ways that the yarns weave in and out, the patterns that they make, and I think the feel in their hands is a real joy. One thing that I love about handwork, and the reason I find it to be so important in the kids lives, is that it brings about a quiet attention. You can tell that there is no one around when the boys are working on their projects. It is just them, in their own world, creating what they want to see and exploring the possibilities.


When I first became involved in Waldorf education, I knew that I liked the idea of my children learning cooking and handwork, but I am not sure that I understood the value of it. Now, it is not about the method of education, but more about what learning those things brings to their lives. I think that I see now, it is the attention to the detail, to the finer points in their world, that makes these types of experiences so valuable. It is not just they can do it, or that is stimulates a particular side of their brain. It really is just that it roots them deep into themselves, and what they are capable of.

And if nothing else, it gives me reassurance that someone will be there to make me chicken soup if I should ever need it.

Happy New Year my friends.

{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

bright and blithe December 31, 2009 at 1:40 pm

Our daughter is just beginning to delve into the world of imaginative play and it does my heart good to see the world unfolding before her. In a way, I feel like childhood has revisited me, as well.

That tool does look like a handy one. I'm intrigued. I'll be checking back to see if you get an answer.

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Lise December 31, 2009 at 1:58 pm

Congratulations on the first meal!

I think it's called a crinkle cutter.

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Brooke December 31, 2009 at 2:17 pm

It would be chicken stew for a week for me! How wonderful that they are so interested in cooking and doing the things their mama does!
I need to get a crinkle cutter! Looks like a crowd pleaser.

Happy New Year, Heather!

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Maeghan December 31, 2009 at 2:19 pm

I love my crinkle cutter. I will have my neighbors check for the package. We decided to extend our stay in Georgia until tomorrow. We should be home on Saturday night. Happy New Year Sweetie!

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sowabisabi December 31, 2009 at 2:39 pm

jude loves to cut with his crinkle cutter too…very practical tool to have. I think it is wonderful to offer your children activities that allow them to quiet their mind and be mindful…we need more of this in our world!

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wesleyjeanne December 31, 2009 at 2:45 pm

I remember vividly the first meal I ever cooked for my family. I was so proud. What a great gift you have given your children.
My five-year-old loves to help me in the kitchen. She often will make her own dish alongside me as I cook dinner. And every Saturday she and her Dad make pancakes for us all. It gives her such confidence and a great connection to our family.

Happy New Year to your beautiful family.

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Linda December 31, 2009 at 2:46 pm

How wonderful for your boys to cook a whole meal from start to finish! I have just received my copy of Meg's book and it is fantastic!
Wishing you a wonderful New Year :)

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Kelly December 31, 2009 at 2:49 pm

Where did you get the weaving tool?

Sounds like they really enjoyed their time in the kitchen – what a gift for all of you!

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Julia December 31, 2009 at 3:21 pm

Well, you r boys can come over to my house anytime to cook a fabulous dinner. And while their at it I wouldn't mind them giving the boys a lesson in handwork…so darn cute.

It is hard to trump the skis, but it's nice because they can only use them outside, the weaving present gives them something to use indoors and in quiet. Great present.

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Meryl December 31, 2009 at 3:31 pm

Such great budding chefs! Chicken soup sounds awesome today too!

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kmberrien December 31, 2009 at 3:40 pm

Oh that IS an exciting day! I am going straight to Sur la Table this morning to get myself a crinkle cutter. What an ingenious tool.

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Andrea December 31, 2009 at 4:21 pm

Wonderful post–cooking and creating…so many days I feel my kids' energy just wound up and directionless–bouncing off the walls so to speak…I see I need to cultivate this kind of slowed-down centeredness these activities can bring (and just power through my own tiredness or reluctance to slow down and share with them!)

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Natalie December 31, 2009 at 5:39 pm

I think the new year will bring a kid made meal to our table. They are always my sous-chefs but I think I need to turn over the kitchen and see what happens. Love it. I have really enjoyed your posts this year and hope you and your family have a very happy new one!

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Ivy December 31, 2009 at 5:47 pm

You must feel so proud. I cannot imagine my kids actually making a meal from start to finish. My younger two love to help in the kitchen and they've helped with a lot of baking, but hardly ever have helped with a meal. I'm going to have to rectify that. And that crinkle cutter tool is cool.

Happy New Year!!!

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KimmieKusz December 31, 2009 at 5:55 pm

The first meal I ever made for my parents was breakfast; 2 day old bread with peanutbutter (no butter to smoothen up) and black coffee… Mommy wasn't as happy with that as you are now with your Chickenstew… I sat on the bed as she was trying to swallow the dry bread, the coffee wasn't helping much either. I was looking at her, totally proud of the breakfast and she did her very best to look proud and happy. It worked then, and now it's a good story to tell…
I think it's great your kids are eager to learn to cook and do handwork. Very important stuff!
Happy 2010, I am definitly coming back to read your stories!
-xo-

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erin December 31, 2009 at 6:16 pm

what a sweet and lovely milestone!!! you all must be so proud!!!

i love the part about the loom. i too have been enjoying watching my children play with simple treasures — beeswax, playsilks, a handcranked music box — right alongside the big "wow" toys

oh and we have that tool too. we got ours at ” target=”_blank”>http://www.forsmallhands.com after being introduced to it at our kids' school. such a wonderful tool for little hands!

happy new year to you and your family…

~erin

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Shivayamama December 31, 2009 at 6:36 pm

Oh thank you! I just had a few emails asking where to get one :). Happy New Year

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Shivayamama December 31, 2009 at 6:37 pm

I think that is such a sweet story! I just love the idea of your mom trying so hard to get that meal down. Happy New Year you as well.

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Shivayamama December 31, 2009 at 6:42 pm

Oh I love that you call them sous chefs, that is wonderful! Happy New Year to you as well

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Shivayamama December 31, 2009 at 7:21 pm

Oh, how fun would be it for all of us to be able to get together and cook and play. Maybe someday :)
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Shivayamama December 31, 2009 at 7:23 pm

It came from Harrisville Designs. I bought the younger one a 12\”. and a 16\” for the older one. So love them both. They are lap looms, and that seems like a really good way to start off. Happy New Year

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Shivayamama December 31, 2009 at 7:24 pm

I know, that is a great book. I am looking forward to diving into it fully in the New Year. I so have enjoyed reading your blog these past few days. I have just discovered you, and I look forward to seeing all that you do in the coming year. Happy NEw Year

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Tonya December 31, 2009 at 7:32 pm

How wonderful Heather! I came in the door at 5:00 pm last evening from knitting group and glancing into the kitchen saw Abby stirring the pot and Sarah shredding cheese. It made me feel so warm inside.
You are giving your boys wings.
Happy New Year.

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Shivayamama December 31, 2009 at 7:58 pm

How great that she makes her own dish along side of you, that is something that I really need to think about with the boys. That would give them even more independece, and also allow them to be part of choosing what we eat. I also love that and her dad cook together every weekend. My dad use to take me out for doughnuts every Saturday morning, and even though it was not particularly healthy, I remember so many wonderful moments of being together. Have a very Happy New Year.

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Shivayamama December 31, 2009 at 8:17 pm

How interesting that he does not normally like to do it, but that somewhere in his own mind, he stored that thought that it was something to calm him down. That really gives me the idea that I need to remember that even though my kiddos may not love everything that we do in the moment, it still may be something that they file away for a different time. The cooking is so cool, and you are right, it is a very independent moment, for everyone. Happy New Year

Heather
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Shivayamama December 31, 2009 at 8:18 pm

Oh you rock!!! Thanks for letting us all know, I had a few emails asking me to let them know once I found out. Happy New Year
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Sarah Jane December 31, 2009 at 8:27 pm

That is so awesome, Heather. It's cool to think of the warm, nurturing environment you have created for you children. Cheers!

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kate December 31, 2009 at 2:08 pm

Yup– it is a crinkle cutter….and they are so handy– especially with little people helping in the kitchen. What a big day to celebrate– I swear I cried the first time Noah made a meal. I think there is something to the joy and pride they feel in the work, something in the way we understand they are growing into their own, something about the beauty and awe of seeing someone who came from us just, well, becoming. So hooray for you and savoring that soup, and hooray for the kiddos for making it happen. And ps– the loom? Love it. There are so many benefits to slowing down for work with hands. My oldest has always hated finger knitting, truth be told, and yet, when he's totally fried and in need of a disconnect from his brain, guess what I catch him doing;)?

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Hannah December 31, 2009 at 9:41 pm

Lovely post Heather, I really enjoyed reading it :o)

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kendra December 31, 2009 at 9:51 pm

martha stewart says lighting a tall candle will deal with the eye waters – as long as its in-between you and the onion. worth a try! i never do it though. : ) oh, and i thought of you when i saw this but am too lazy to link it to the appropriate post. http://mrmonkeysuit.typepad.com/mr_monkeysuit/200… i'm looking forward to making a version someday too!

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nicola December 31, 2009 at 10:15 pm

fabulous meal making, boys!
i love the loom. my mom was a weaver, so we have set our kids with veggie tray looms and can't wait for my mom to set up her little table loom for my daughter.
nicola
http://whichname.blogspot.com

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kendra December 31, 2009 at 10:27 pm
renee December 31, 2009 at 10:45 pm

I love those cutters too. It's so great to have for the little ones to help with. I recently also got my son a beginner knife. Sharp but not too sharp. I found it in a montessori catalog. So true about the handwork.

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angela December 31, 2009 at 5:11 pm

I need to get one of those tools. We have been with the Waldorf school for three years now and the changes in myself my children and our home are just amazing. I bet your boys will remember that meal all their lives.

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Stephanie January 1, 2010 at 1:06 am

How fun! You definitely need to make those boys some chef's hats! That crinkle cutter is really neat, I want one.

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Melanie January 1, 2010 at 3:08 am

Lovely post…so cozy! Where did you find the smaller loom? I've seen larger ones, but I'm looking for one for smaller hands. That one seems perfect.

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Leanne January 1, 2010 at 4:58 am

Oh happy days…and what deliciousness!!

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Arianne January 1, 2010 at 7:39 am

your bioys are so sweet! mine are 4 and 2 and they love to help in the kitchen, the other day the 4 year old got up on his stoll and washed the dishes ( with me looking over the shoulder now and again) all by himself! I was so proud. I do need to work on getting him interested in handwork, so far fingerknitting hasn't called out to him the way I hoped but I'm not giving up!he'll come around :)
Happy new year!
Arianne

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Francesca January 1, 2010 at 12:29 pm

That's great! I'm all for kids (and boys especially) learning to cook and being helpful around the kitchen. There's an enormous amount of value in that and not just as an experience or a skill. All too often cooking with kids is just about playing with food. Happy New Year to you and your family!

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Jennifer January 1, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Yay! What a sense of accomplishment for everyone! And I love how you put what the Waldorf way teaches them; so very true!

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quirkygranolagirl January 1, 2010 at 8:56 pm

How wonderful! What a lovely post. Thank you for sharing.

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perches January 1, 2010 at 10:08 pm

First cooking, how amazing & exciting. And such a great meal, too! It makes me want to make some chicken soup for our house… I think my first cooking experience was making scrambled eggs, and I still remember the pride & accomplishment. Bravo, guys!

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heather January 4, 2010 at 3:13 am

thank you for this inspiration, and for turning me onto to that cool cutter.

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Mary YDP January 4, 2010 at 8:02 pm

Heather, this is so awesome, the looming and cooking… the novelty of skis will wear off, the things you are teaching are for their whole life.

Wonderful!

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