Sarah Joy Albrecht

How Tom Imagined Life Would Be

Sep
21

Smoke rings rose into a little cloud about Tom’s head as he sat, laptop open, at our dining room table. Four of our five children surrounded him with their character sheets and little piles of multicolored dice in front of them — it was their first time playing D&D.

On the other side of the wall, a swiveling butler door between us, I sautéed onions and used my favorite red spatula to encourage droplets of batter through a colander into a large pot of boiling water (and all over my counter and stove top).

My character, Danaë, a Wilden Shaman, will enter the campaign later.

Tomorrow, our church is having an Oktoberfest-themed fellowship meal, and I was preparing our two contributions:

A casserloe made of Spaetzle Casserole with Sautéed Onions, Gruyère and a pinch of Nutmeg

Spaetzle Casserole with Sautéed Onions, Gruyère and a pinch of Nutmeg

Braised Red Cabbage with Vinegar and Caraway

Braised Red Cabbage with Vinegar and Caraway

I brought in a bowl of the Spaetzle casserole mixture and a fork for Tom to try. “Oh, that’s good!” he said. “Hmm… does it need any salt?” he thought aloud. “Nope.. it’s perfect,” he concluded.

A few moments later, I brought in the brazed cabbage. This, too, met his taste-buds’ approval.

“You know, this is how I always imagined life would be,” he said.

“Smoking a pipe, and being your children’s Dungeon Master, while your wife brings in homemade German food for you to taste?” I said, smiling.

“Exactly.”

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Degas and the Little Drama Queen Aged Six

Sep
20
Degas and the Little Drama Queen

Degas and the Little Drama Queen Aged Six

On Pinterest this morning, I noticed several photos of Degas’ Little Dancer Aged Fourteen on fellow Pinner Rowena’s feed this morning. It reminded me of our recent trip to the National Gallery in Washington D.C., where I had the privilege of seeing the sculpture up close.

However, after dragging my children through the rest of the museum (“Isn’t this fun, kids?” “NO! This is TERRIBLE, mom!”), when we got to the basement floor, where sculptures are kept, my daughter Leah was literally bored to tears and threw herself on the floor. Her disobedience was no laughing matter at the time, but I did snap a photo and it makes me chuckle to look back on the moment!

If I ever do decide to go back to an art museum with my children, I think I’ll use some of these great game ideas from the No Time for Flash Cards Blog to make the trip more interesting!

Below are some more photos from our visit.

"Is this the painter who cut off his ear?"

“Is this the painter who cut off his ear?”

The Larder by Antonio Maria Vassallo

The Larder by Antonio Maria Vassallo (My favorite painting in the gallery! I would love to have this on my dining room wall!)

Micah as "The Thinker"

Micah as “The Thinker

Mercury Fountain in the National Gallery. (Here's a beautiful photo that does it justice! It's a breath-taking room!)

Mercury Fountain in the National Gallery. (Here’s a beautiful photo that does it justice! It’s a breath-taking room!)

Degas - Woman Ironing (If I ever remodeled my laundry room, this would be a cool print to have in there. I love art portraying people doing things!)

Degas – Woman Ironing
(If I ever remodeled my laundry room, this I would love to have this print hanging in there. I’m inspired by art portraying people doing things, and a lot of inspiration is needed to do ironing!)

PS: The Little Drama Queen turns seven today :) Happy birthday, Leah!!

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It’s Not About the Food: Children in the Kitchen

Sep
07

Vietnamese Spring Roll Assembly

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. – Ecclesiastes 4:9

I’ve observed that people who have bad relationships with their parents seem to have been kicked out of the kitchen as kids. “I never learned to cook” is a common thread with hurting adults. The more I thought about this, I realized that children who are kept out of the “heart of the home” miss out on a very integral aspect of personal growth.

Having my children in the kitchen with me is important. They’re often there, working alongside of me, in our little test-lab for life, and I’ve had a lot of time to think about the benefits of this.

Some of the most meaningful conversations I’ve had with my children have happened while working together as a team. I’ve noticed that fidgety kids with occupied hands seem to be able to relax mentally, sort out their thoughts in a more coherent way, and share them more freely. Perhaps this is because the attention is focused on work, and not on them and if they are saying things “correctly”.

When families work together in the kitchen, they’re not merely in close proximity (like being in the same room and looking at different screens), they’re working toward a common goal. Participating in family life, especially the behind the scenes work, are opportunities for children to practice humility and selflessness (“I can’t wait until Dad tastes this!” “Make sure to check the ingredients so our friend Bryce doesn’t have an allergic reaction!”).. and also to feel a part of something bigger.. to be valued for their effort and work ethic.


I’ve observed that parents who do not allow their children cook with them are often perfectionists themselves… and produce perfectionist offspring.
They can’t fail in front of their children. They can’t let children make mistakes or messes. They are more concerned about clean and quiet than love and learning. When kids work alongside of their parents, however, children learn how to handle mistakes in stride, how to work under pressure (if you don’t stir the eggs while you make lemon curd, you have scrambled eggs with lemon!)… and to enjoy and appreciate their food, value the where it comes from, and the effort it takes to prepare it.

Of course, one of the best benefits of having children attending to meal preparation is that they actually learn how to cook!
My older children (now 12, 11 and 10) can be trusted to follow directions and create an entire meal on their own. My 10 year old is also quite the grill-master.

That’s not to say that parents always have to cook with children in the kitchen. (I certainly do kick my kids out every now and then, especially when they need a good run in the back yard!) However, more often than not, they’re right next to me boiling water for pasta, breading cutlets, stirring oatmeal, and sharing their hearts with me.