JOPLIN, Mo. —
The real magic of the day begins when the little heads hit the pillows, and not only because of impending parental down-time.
Something special happens when there's not a single to-do left on the list. Everyone's teeth are brushed, sibling squabbles have paused for the night, and the stress of making it through the day is lifted. Mom and dad certainly feel the shift, but it's the kids who bring the magic.
Lying on their pillows, tucked in for the night, our kids tend to open up like moonflowers on the vine. When the rest of the business of the day is done, some of the most tender, thoughtful conversations can happen. The secret is to not rush through the process. Lingering is key.
So it was that my daughter and I began trading stories one night, punctuated by yawns. Tales of kindergarten exploits and far-fetched what-ifs filled the quiet bedroom. Looking at her sweet face in a silky-coiffed halo, I introduced one of my favorite topics:
"I'll say one thing I love about you, and you say one thing you love about mama."
I love her kisses, she loves my hugs; she loves my dance parties, I love her made-up songs; I love the color of her eyes, she loves baking with me.
She said it innocently and truthfully, but it struck me like an accusation. We haven't baked together in weeks.
Life moves fast. The things we must get done often trample all over those we'd merely like to get done. Activities like baking with the kids and spending extra minutes in conversation at bedtime can seem like too much to be squeezed in. But those moments truly are the memorable ones.
So you have an assignment this week, facilitated by my family's secret recipe chocolate chip cookies: Bake with your kids.
And then be sure to take an extra-long time tucking them into bed when they're full of sweetness and memories.
Chewy double chocolate chip cookies
1/2 cup oats, finely ground
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups milk chocolate chips
Whisk together first four ingredients and set aside. Cream butter and sugars, then add the eggs followed by the vanilla. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture, then stir in chocolate chips.
Using an ice cream scoop, drop mounds of dough onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 8-10 minutes or until edges turn golden but centers are still shiny.