By Guest Blogger, Shannon Blair
It’s official… My firstborn is tweening.
– Groans and snarls followed later in the day by random hugs.
– Hair hanging in those beautiful brown eyes and questions about “bumpy skin”.
– More and more time with pals or in his room and less and less in our home’s common areas.
My little guy is growing up big and fast, which has left me scratching my head. How do I encourage independence in him while maintaining a strong bond?
Several habits from this article are doable and helpful. In fact, before coming across this list, I had decided to be intentional about some quality time with my ten-year-old since the friction was becoming unbearable. In doing so, I noticed a significant improvement in his attitude (and mine).
1) Aim for 12 hugs (or physical connections) every day.
3) Turn off technology when you interact with your child.
4) Connect before transitions.
5) Make time for one on one time.
6) Welcome emotion.
7) Listen, and empathize.
8) Slow down and savor the moment.
9) Bedtime snuggle and chat.
10) Show up.
What did we do for our QT? Well, we went strawberry picking at Wise Acres Organic Farm just outside of Charlotte, which I highly recommend.
I didn’t tell my son what we were doing, only what to wear and when to be ready. Worried he might consider such an outing “lame”, he didn’t at all. Honestly, I think he (and I) just enjoyed a chance to not be squabbling over remote learning and chores. It was also fun to try something new together and to have a moment in nature, just the two of us; I think he felt pretty special as well that his 7-year-old little sister was not in tow.
Yes, it was hot.
Yes, we got dirty and sweaty.
Yes, we were sore the next day.
– Absolutely, we chatted without agenda.
– Definitely, we talked about our different strengths (mine spotting best berries, his spotting ladybugs and dragonflies).
– Certainly, we enjoyed checking out all the farm animals and getting a laugh from the goat who followed us around “shouting” for more hay.
– For sure, we celebrated the pounds we picked over ice cold slushies!
This phase is reminding me, once again, of my maternity leave mantra: “The only constant is change.” The challenging but rewarding part is keeping up with it. Much like the hard work in that field, parenting is that way too: well worth it for the sweet yields.
Wise Acres projects a few more weeks into June for picking, so what can you do with the fruits of your labor if you go or with store-bought berries? Here is what we enjoyed with all that fruit. Hope you and your little–and in-between–people do too.
Dance Party Ice Cream
I like to double the recipe so each child has a batch to melt. Plus, more ice cream!
Yield: 4 servings (8 if doubled)
1) Combine in inner gallon bag:
– 1 C finely chopped berries (or other fruit or crushed Oreos)
– 1 C whipping cream
– 1 C half and half
– ¼ C sugar
– 2 t vanilla
2) Combine in outer gallon bag:
– 4 C ice
– ½ C kosher coarse salt
3) Insert sealed inner bag into outer bag. Seal. Have more bags handy for reinforcement if needed.
4) Cue the music! Hand children gloves and dish towels. Encourage them to shake, rattle, and roll with the batch (careful not to drop) until ice melts.
5) Enjoy as a soft serve ice cream, or freeze in a container for two hours for firmness.
Note: Stir in additional crushed Oreos at this stage if using cookies for texture.
Bonuses beyond a yummy PB&J and easy gift giving? Per Harvard’s School of Public Health, the chia seed is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, protein, calcium, phosphorus, and zinc.
Yield: 20 (4 oz.) jars or 10 (8 oz.) jars
You can make a half batch too; however, this freezes well, so we go for it! Just pull out one jar a week and thaw in the fridge.
1) Coarsely chop 10 C of berries. Rinse to thaw if using frozen berries.
2) Cook in a pot over medium for 10 minutes.
3) Add to the pot:
– 10 T chia seeds
– 5 T lemon juice
– 10 T honey
4) Immersion blend, or puree in blender.
5) Cool, ladle into glass jars (plastic ware does well too), chill or freeze, and enjoy.
Strawberry Seltzer Cocktail/Mocktail
After all that hard work picking, you deserve to sit a spell and sip on one of these!
Yield: 2 Beverages
1) Puree 2 C fresh or frozen berries. Divide into 2 glasses.
2) If using alcohol for adult versions, add 2 oz. vodka into each glass. If not, skip.
3) Add to each glass, and stir:
– Juice from ¼ of a lemon
– ½ t honey (or more if prefer sweeter)
– Seltzer water of any flavor or plain
– Ice if desired
4) Garnish with mint leaves, and cheers!
Shannon Blair is wife to Sam and mom to Jay (10), Nora (7), and Tater (78 in dog years). When not teaching writing at Central Piedmont Community College, she can be found getting muddy in the garden, wreaking havoc in the kitchen, running and then un-running with a local craft brew, struggling to achieve Crow pose, reading, or trying to figure out which story to tell next. Stop on by and see how she can help you tell your stories too at pinkpenwriting.com.