Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Family Dinner

One of Ryan’s latest developments (other than walking) is that he’s eating a lot more table food. Instead of a jar of baby food, I can now give him a slice of cheese, some yogurt, a chunk of apple or banana, a spoonful of mashed potatoes, a wedge of bagel, or a piece of carrot. I love being able to share my own lunch with him – he gets a wedge of my grilled cheese sandwich, or a spoonful of my cereal, or a bite of taco meat, or a mouthful of lasagna. It gives me a whole new use for leftovers!

I’m especially happy that this happened now that we’re getting into the cooler weather season, because this is when my cooking really shines. I love cold-weather comfort food. Shepherd’s pie, lasagna, chicken-rice casserole, homemade macaroni and cheese, soups and stews…these are the things I love to cook. And these are the things that are easiest to share with a little one! Ryan loves pasta in any form, and any dish with kid-sized chunks of meat and vegetables is great for him to feed himself. So all my oven-baked favorites are just perfect. And thanks to the magic of the microwave, I can warm up a spoonful or two of my last night’s dinner for his today’s lunch.

But I think the very best part of Ryan being able to share our dinner is that it makes it so much easier to have family meals with all three of us. Until recently, I would usually feed Ryan earlier and then while Herb was putting him to bed, I’d make a late supper for us. It’s always lovely when the two of us can share a quiet dinner together, but I grew up with the whole family eating together nearly every night and I’ve looked forward to being able to do that with my little family.

Last night was a wonderful example. I gave Ryan some cheese and a handful of Kix to snack on while Herb and I ate our salads. But after that, we all got some steak and macaroni and cheese. Of course, Ryan got just a little chunk of meat, which he tasted once or twice and seemed unimpressed by, but once I cooled off some macaroni and put it in front of him, he was much more interested in eating. It also makes it so much easier for me to eat my own dinner now that he can feed himself finger foods. There are still a lot of things I need to feed him, or at least help with, but being able to plop a few things in front of him and let him take care of himself is hugely liberating. And I think he thinks so, too!

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