Playful puppies: week 4

It’s time for another post by my youngest, PetKid, who we homeschool. We had an amazing offer from the breeder of our dog, Reggie, for a weekly visit and lesson on the newest litter of puppies. Our dog’s breeder, the wonderful Culandubh Kennels run by Laurel Cook and Ross McLaughlin in Clayton, Ontario, raises purebred Labradors, and the latest litter are entirely chocolate labs. This post covers week four.

Look at this puppy war! It’s so cute and fluffy. This week you can see the puppies are much more hyperactive.

Tiny chocolate lab puppies wrestling

When I went to visit the puppies had moved downstairs to an area with a heat lamp and a separate area filled with shavings for toileting. They had three stuffies to play with, as well as me! I sat in a corner with them crawling all over me, chewing on my clothes and snuffling.

Five-week old chocolate lab pups playing

I tired them out so much two fell asleep on my lap. The rest fell asleep in other spots.

Young boy with sleeping puppy on his knee

One of the puppies crashed out on a stuffed animal and another one couldn’t get to sleep and kept bothering the others. He finally went to sleep on top of one of his sisters.

Puppy crashed out on a stuffed animal

They are so cute!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kids cooking up a storm

Kids pressing garlic into tomato sauce for lasagna
So, this past weekend three kids took over my kitchen: our 13 year old son, his oldest friend – also 13, and our eight year old. What started out as a cooking session for the two older kids turned into a cooking tutorial headed by my older son when his younger brother was keen to get in on the action. It couldn’t have turned out better.

The main event: the easy vegetarian lasagna recipe that is one of my son’s go-to recipes when I ask him to cook. It takes advantage of premade tomato sauce, but is obviously good with homemade sauce too! For this adventure we stuck with the ready-made sauce as we felt there was enough ‘customization’ going on without adding from-scratch sauce to the list. Next time, I won’t be so cautious, as they were all totally ready for this.

In the shot above my youngest is giving the garlic press his all as he makes a series of additions to the base tomato sauce (which also included herbs and red wine). His older brother was called in for reinforcement.
Kids stirring the tomato sauce for lasagna

Finishing up with the tomato sauce stage.
Young child grating nutmeg

Grating nutmeg for the ricotta/egg/cheese stage.

Young girl grating nutmeg into a bowl
More nutmeg grating.
Young boy assembling lasagna

This boy loved the mathematical precision required in placing the lasagna strips.

Young girl pouring tomato sauce for lasagna recipe
Pouring the sauce.
Kids making lasagna

Pulling it all together.
Baked lasagna prepared by kids

One of two completed lasagnas. They were all very proud of their work at suppertime, although my eight year still refused to try a bite of lasagna! The theory that kids will try what they cook is a really good one, but I have ample experience that it ain’t always so.

Kids baking brownies

Once the lasagnas were in the oven it was time to turn to the brownies. We used Bill Granger’s recipe from his book Bill’s Basics, which – at my house – we agree is the best brownie recipe in the world. My son was demonstrating here his ease with estimating amounts, tapping in the baking powder free-hand rather than measuring!
Kids chopping chocolate for brownie recipe
The one and only time I was really needed during the course of the two recipes was to redirect these two in their chocolate cutting technique. My son had pulled out two small paring knives for the job and it was painful watching them mince away at their piles of hard baking chocolate. I quickly produced two large chef’s knives and gave a quick bit of instruction; happily, they picked up the new technique rather than ignoring me (my son is notorious for doing things his own way, even if that way is painful in the extreme).

Kids baking in the kitchen

Our time in the kitchen produced a lot of great shots, some of which I just don’t have room to include here, but this shot must be my favourite. The satisfaction in their achievement is so lovely.

Brownie with whipped cream

A quick shot of a brownie with whipped cream (I was a bit slow in taking this shot as the cream can be seen melting here!). Oh, they were good.

We doubled everything the kids cooked so that my son’s friend could take home her own lasagna and her own container of brownies. Everyone wants to know when we can do it again.

Impromptu cooking school

When I invited my 13-year old son’s oldest friend over for a weekend that would include cooking lasagna and brownies, I didn’t really think about what my eight-year old would do during the cooking sessions. I didn’t really think all that much about what I would do either, as my son is so familiar with these recipes that I guess I figured that I’d be in the background, flitting about, while they cooked.

In reality, my eight-year old was incredibly keen to take part, and my 13-year old – being his wonderful flexible self – morphed into a cooking instructor while his friend and his brother assembled the recipes under his watchful eye. He crushed garlic when his students found they didn’t have sufficient strength, and cheerfully opened containers of ricotta cheese, all while talking them through the recipe assembly process.

The soundtrack was Coldplay, my husband was in the background sharpening a scythe blade (really!), I snapped tons of photos and whipped cream for the brownies, and everything turned out beautifully. Those photos need some attention before I can post it all here, but it’s coming.

I think I need to eat salads all this week to make up for the rich menu.

Breadmaking – father and son

Kneading bread dough

Making leavened bread is the job of menfolk at our house; here’s my husband kneading a batch just after our older son made soup the other night.

Young boy preparing a bread pan

Our youngest often dips into the breadmaking process and came in on this particular evening at the pan-preparing stage.

Scoring a loaf of bread for baking

I think this loaf ended up in the conventional oven; we’re better at getting things into the woodstove when we concentrate on our baking and cooking at the start of the day, which doesn’t always work. Using the woodstove more for cooking and baking is still a work in progress and I will post again on that soon.

This weekend my older son’s oldest friend (they’ve been pals since kindergarten!) is staying with us to make lasagna and brownies. I’ll share here when it’s all done.


Young boy paddling in a canoe on the Bonnechere River
The higher winds that we’ve been experiencing lately decided not to abate today, so in the end it was decided that our son couldn’t go flying today. He’s learned so much about meteorology in ground school that he understand the decision, which isn’t to say he wasn’t disappointed. The flight school has promised to give us a ring this week when there is an opening with good weather, and we’ll just go.

Looking again at the photo that I posted last night, I realize how much my son has grown since he first flew in a Cessna nearly 18 months ago. At the time, they had to take a booster cushion for him as he couldn’t reach all of the controls: now he’s nearly 5’6″ and wears a men’s 10 or 11 shoe! My husband is wearing last year’s hand-me-down boots from this son, something which will never happen again as he continues to grow (as you’d fully expect at 13!).

He’s grown in so many other ways over these past 18 months too. This boy is now really a young man, about to start his first proper job, full of knowledge about the world wars (and aviation) that he’s accumulated hungrily in some intense reading over the past year, has preferred ways of tackling tasks and jobs at home and around our land, is a great contributor within our family, and is ready to contribute to the world. I enjoy his company and watching who he is becoming. Human beings are constantly in flux and able to remain in a state of becoming, but never is it more apparent than at this tender age. It’s an amazing thing to witness.