Lettuce Eat Local: Berry crazy babies


Amanda Miller
Lettuce Eat Local


“I’m not even mad, I’m just impressed.” Brian and I have quoted this movie phrase to each other many times in applicable situations, and there were several occasions this past week where it felt very, very fitting.
We were babysitting one of our longterm foster girls who has been reintegrated with her loving family. Rosie and her big sister left our home about half a year ago, after having been with Brian, Benson, and me for over nine months. We are delighted and so grateful to have continued contact with the girls, thanks to their bio parents’ openness and graciousness, and we’ve even had the girls and their two brothers over for a few days or a weekend several times.
But since the other kids are in school, this time we got just Rosie, and for a whole week. I was so excited for crazy baby life again. She hasn’t lived with us since she was only 11 months old, and let me tell you, it’s very different now that she’s 1½. She had been just starting to take steps, and now she is careening around the house with incredible velocity. It’s so fun to see her little brown pigtails bobbing and weaving all over — and it’s amazing the destruction left in her wake.
There must be some scientific law of synchronization that addresses how two bodies in movement increase exponentially in force and power rather than merely combining the sum of their individual parts…especially when those bodies are toddler-sized. Benson and Rose are 8 months apart, so kind of like twins, and now that they’re old enough to work together (or very much against each other) it’s a whole new ballgame.
The first morning Rosie was here, I had a deadline to meet and a class to teach, so I had no time to clean up the house before we had to leave. I don’t think I have ever left the house in such a state of disrepair; Brian can attest to the impressive level of chaos the babies achieved in those few short hours. The pompoms, play-doh, cheerios, books, toys, kitchen towels, and all other manner of even hypothetically reachable objects were everywhere.
In these moments, it is best to just be impressed and laugh, instead of be upset. If I’m not literally following behind and cleaning up their latest mess while they move on to make the next, it’s inevitable that I fall behind anyway, so I might as well be resigned to my fate.
The kitchen floor was perpetually such a wreck that it felt irresponsible to even put the broom away.
We of course did have some calmer moments. Moments of silence that gradually dawned on me, with that strange realization that what I was hearing was nothing. A wave of relief intersected with a gnawing horror; the chances of the two of them just playing quietly and not slyly wreaking havoc were very slim. I had to gauge the value of what I was getting done, versus the value of whatever they were getting undone.
But then they would scamper away giggling and shrieking, or run into me for a group hug-snuggle, or drag me into the teepee with them. Benson wasn’t talking much when Rose moved away, but now I love hearing his emotive little voice yelling for her to come or begging me to go wake her up from nap. It’s been a hilarious, precious, tiring, splendid week. We’ll miss her deeply next week, but always be grateful for the chance to love her and her family.
And hopefully I’ll mop the floor tomorrow.

Fresh Strawberry Milk

8 ounces strawberries, destemmed
16 ounces milk, plus more as desired
a splash of vanilla
a pinch of salt
local honey to taste — 1-2 tablespoons?
optional: ½ cup cottage cheese

Combine all ingredients in a blender, and process until smooth. Adjust milk and honey to your personal preference.

The volume of strawberries consumed (and dripped and dropped and smashed) in our home this week is also impressive. I did not do much stovetop cooking, as there was always someone in my arms or at least wrapped around my legs, but plenty of one-dish meals and salads — and things thrown in a blender. I know my recipe used a blender last week too, but I’m gonna be honest, I use it every day, so it’s hard to stay away. Rosie chugged this nutritious, creamy strawberry milk like a crazy woman, and I drank my glass during her nap so I could enjoy it without being tackled for it.
Prep tips: seeing the cottage cheese listed might throw you for a bit of a loop, but it’s a great way to get in some extra creaminess and protein, along with just a hint of tang that pairs well with the sweetness of the strawberries.


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