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Baking with friends

December 19, 2009

We’ve recently been organizing weekly baking dates with a handful of other mama’s and their kids. I wanted social time for myself, social time for Benecia, time to get work done, and a way to build community.

At home, I try to involve B as much as possible with my daily routine and work. It’s much more fun and interesting to do things with others, the way it has been done traditionally in times past. We don’t live in a village where moms get together and bake and weave and wash while the kids help or run around or get underfoot. These days we get together for play-dates and sit and talk and watch the kids play. We do enjoy play-dates, but I just want something different.

I want the 1950’s Midwest neighborhood my mom talks about, where siblings and dogs roamed free and climbed trees until mom rang the dinner bell to call them all home. I want the summers my mother in law describes, where a pack of cousins watched their grandparents work, played underfoot, or went off into the woods together with a horse and a picnic for the day. Neighborhoods aren’t always safe or inviting, and neighbors don’t get together regularly if ever to do things together. Families are all spread out. Lately this has been really saddening me.

Then I started to think realistically about what I could do to make the best of my current situation. How could I fulfill our desire for a community and a village way of life while still living in the city? I want to work and play in a community setting, where the children can see us doing interesting adult things. Children naturally want to imitate, learn from us, and help. All of these needs could be met, as well as mama’s need to socialize and get certain things done. Kids would still have time to play together, with the natural buzz of adult activity in the background to assure them that all is right in the world.

My first thought was weekly baking dates. Most people enjoy baking, or at least the result of baking. Kids like any event that involves food, and baking is very accessible to kids of all ages. Rolling pins, flour, water, dough, scooping, making messes and cleaning up.  It is the first baby step, and we’re all really enjoying it. In our first three dates we have communally made bread, gingerbread cookies and crackers. The kids alternately play together and help, play with the baking equipment, watch and eat. The whole process takes longer and is much messier than it would kid free. There is usually very little if any food to take home at the end, as the hungry mouths have devoured it all, (perhaps we need to up our batches a bit, or a lot).

Here how its been looking so far:

The mom hosting provides most ingredients for everyone.

Beforehand, she emails everyone to tell them what to bring, if anything

We arrive to everything already prepped. Ingredients and tools and recipe are out. (Since we don’t all live together and still have time constraints, older kids to pick up from school, etc., it helps make the most of our time.)

Let the mixing begin! Kids play, and come over to the table to see whats going on. They naturally seem to alternate being up at the table to help with whatever is out, and wandering off with each other.

eat…bake….eat….play….

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