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Man at Desk

Introducing the "Peanut" Series

"You are smart. You are strong. You are brave"

These three things we've said on repeat like it was 2012 listening to "Call Me Maybe". You're welcome. Give it a couple days (weeks), maybe you'll move on to another song.

By the time the song is over you can repeat every word backward and forward- whether you want to be able to or not.

Luckily, the words seem to have stuck and our 18 month old even points to his head, muscles, and heart respectively. I hope this has a lasting effect on both of them, and next one on her way.

I want to remember things through this phase. While we don't take printed photos the way our parents did when we were young, we have other avenues available. Here I give to you, the "Peanut" series. We have called Aiden "Peanut" since she looked simply that on her first ultrasound. She still answers to it. While I have no intention of this being a drawn-out soliloquy of my parenting adventures, I am constantly learning and recognizing that there are so many ways to raise good humans. If I can share some of my light-bulb moments and have you respond in kind, by all means can't we all use the community and help? I know I can.

Today's learning experience begins with a recipe, surprise surprise. Here's what we made for dinner tonight:

Summer Minestrone with Turkey Meatballs

Aiden always asks to help. I've encouraged it from the time she was old enough to fling things outside of a bowl with a whisk. Mess has no hold over me (glitter is another story). So it was no surprise to hear those anticipatory words flowing from her mouth so freely when I began retrieving mixing bowls from the shelves.

I have a habit of explaining everything to her before we begin, no exaggeration. Her brain works best knowing what to expect and thinking through how to handle it ahead of time, apple meet tree. I explain how we're going to bake the meatballs ahead of time because the bread will need to be in the oven while the soup is going blah blah blah. She's soaking in every word. This is immediately following nap time, pigtails askew and missing half of her clothing, yet she does not care. It's the interaction between us for which she's gearing up.

There's a camaraderie in the monotony of rolling meatballs together that gives you the space to not be busy, if that makes sense. Portioning the meat and rolling it to similar sizes causes enough attention that other things cannot simultaneously be done (plus, raw meat hands), but not too much attention that conversation cannot be had concurrently. I think she said three times, "I like cooking with you, Momma". There is no more soul-filling phrase to have fall upon my ears.

Before I knew it, we were finished. An entire tray completed, and I didn't want it to end. A simple and mundane task became an ordinary moment turned into a memory.

Brushing Turkey Meatballs with Garlic Oil- Age 4

I'm increasingly aware that this easy season of two hands to do these kinds of things together will ebb and flow once baby #3 arrives, so I take none of these moments for granted.

For those of you that may think one of two things: 1) that child is perfect or, 2) she must not write about everything, just the sweet moments- let's get to my second learning experience of the day, shall we?

Post-dinner, not far from bed time, children find this phase (almost like the phases of the moon) where they reach maximum volume and energy capacity before becoming slivers of themselves in desperate need of sleep. During this evening's wind-up/wind-down Aiden decided to throw her pajamas at a glass object in our home immediately after being told three (3!) times successively not to throw them. First step, remove child from arena of people so she's not embarrassed or tempted to behave out of character for attention while being disciplined: ✅. Step two, ask child if she knows what she did to cause removal and how we could've handled it better: ✅. Step three, administer consequences equal to her behavior (not violent toward others or in anger, no physical harm or verbal obscenities): ✅ (sit on bed and read, removed from other parties for a specific amount of time, no show/tablet before bed). Handled.

Here's what I didn't expect...

Past consequences are rarely long because she understands what she did, attempts to reconcile, and adjusts behavior accordingly. It's amazing and I am certain I was not as bright as a child. This one was a bit longer because, well- I work my hardest to ensure my children listen the first time. Every coach I had that I respected asked once, and if you heard them speak, you listened because you respected them. What I did not expect was the remorse and sadness that came with the realization that this was a bit more (read 10-15 minutes tops) than she'd endured in the past.

Aiden and I are so emotionally connected that seeing her struggle made me struggle. My heart knows that consistency and follow-through are important, but I was not anticipating counting down the clock for my own sake to ensure she knew why those things were correlated and that she should be empowered to change them for the next attempt.

The brain of a parent never sleeps. From elation to anxiousness to the knowledge that someday our children will repeat to us the things we could have done differently in their growing years. All of them swirl daily. The struggle of the evening was far outshined by the enjoyment of the afternoon and knowing that the end result was one of empowerment, and discipline (did you know discipline can be good?), and love.

So, here's the recipe, on me. Spend time with them on the counter, or standing next to you as adults. Goodness knows time refuses to turn around.

Peanut, I love ya kid.

Summer Minestrone with Turkey Meatballs
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