Friday, February 25, 2011

How Do You Get A Picky Eater to Eat Healthier?

My oldest child has always been a picky eater. As a baby she refused to nurse, preferring the fast flow of a bottle to working for her meal. (Although an aggressive nurse contributed to the problem.) When she started solid foods (at 4 months as was recommended such a short time ago) she had a distinct preference for oatmeal cereal over rice and definite opinions about each flavor of baby food she was presented.

By the time she was a toddler she could put a spoonful of meat and vegetables (mixed together in a casserole) in her mouth, swish her tongue around a little, put her fingers in her mouth and hand you the one green bean in the mix. She went on food jags for weeks at a time, forsaking nearly all other foods in favor of grapes or frozen peas. I was thankful the jags were always something healthy but as a new mom I worried about her nutrition, probably too much.

I've found that the more focus you put on food, the picker the eater becomes. With my son I was less worried about what he ate and he eats a much wider variety of healthy foods than his older sister. And with my littlest one I hardly have time to worry at all and she eats the best of anyone in the family.

Over the last few years I've tried to increase my oldest's repertoire of healthy foods (she has no problem with eating crap). We have had some success and she is also more willing to try new things or even "old" things again.

One of the things we've done (for the whole family) is to pick out a new item from the fresh produce department for the whole family to try. Everyone must at least try a bite if they have never tried it before or if it has been a while since they tried it and didn't care for it. The bite must be a true bite and not a nibble. We must also be willing to try a second bite if the food can be modified in some way (sprinkle of pepper for example).

Confession: I too am a picky eater. Or, at least I used to be. Through these experiments I have added a lot more healthy foods to my food repertoire as well.

We've tried things like hummus, plantain, pomegranate, kiwi, avocado, asparagus, plums, cherries, nectarines, honeydew melon, zucchini and more. Perhaps not the most exotic (though we have tried some unusual things too) but what is accessible in our stores and what looks interesting. We may revisit some of the ones we tried and didn't care for, in the interest that tastes change over time.

I also make only one meal for the whole family. If anyone chooses to not eat, that is his/her choice and there will be only one alternative: fresh fruit or vegetables.

So far, these are the strategies that work for us...what have you tried?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Scary Monsters Banished!

There is that saying that a picture is worth 1000 words. I've heard also that it takes actually 4000 words to equal the impact of one image.

When your kids are scared of monsters, this book speaks volumes.

Go Away, Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley helped my oldest child when she was having bad dreams about monsters.

The book is interactive, as each page is turned the monster appears, then as the child tells him to "GO AWAY" each page turned makes another part of the monster disappear.

My daughter loved that. We borrowed the book, and read it over and over each time we did. Makes me wish we'd bought it. As my youngest is still 2 1/2 I still may invest in this book because it is just that invaluable for helping kids through the scary monster faze.

What books have helped your kids through fears?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

How Do You Beat Cabin Fever?

Those of us who live in the Midwest are very familiar with the drastic dips in temperature that winter can bring. Sometimes the cold snaps or bad weather keep us cooped up indoors for days and even the laziest of us (cough, starts to get a little nutty.

My husband and I bought an inflatable jumper several years ago when we were preparing for a birthday party for our two older kids. It seemed like a good investment to have at the summer birthday parties...the use over the years would offset the cost. It wasn't a huge jumper, probably 10 foot square or smaller. The laughs were on us at first because the biggest of the kids (including nephews) were terrified of the thing for the first year we had it. We tried everything to get the kids to jump in it but an unfortunate premature deflation accident while the kids were inside the jumper had pretty much confirmed they wouldn't set foot inside.

Once they got past their fears they enjoyed the jumper, and we added the younger siblings. We came upon a frigid winter with two squirrely kids and my husband thought that we should set the jumper up inside the house. Our home is not large, but the living room is ::JUST BARELY:: large enough to set the jumper up in it without the kids bouncing and knocking things over.

We have set up the inflatable jumper in our living room several times in the winter months to get some of the pent up energy out of our kids. There is always at least one bump from someone exiting too wildly or jumping on top of someone else, but when it's too cold or frozen outside to play, this is the next best thing.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Why We're Raising Scouts

We're raising scouts in our house. I was a Girl Scout in elementary school and enjoyed the meetings and the friends and the activities. My older daughter asked to be a Daisy scout as soon as she heard talk of it at school her 1st grade year. Daisy scouts usually start in Kindergarten but there were no troops forming when M was in Kindergarten.

My son started asking about Boy Scouts shortly after M started attending Daisy scout meetings. He wanted to know if there was a group like that for boys.

When your kids want to be a part of something that will foster qualities you want your kids to develop, it's hard to say no, so we make every effort to attend all the activities the Brownies and Tiger Scouts set up.

My daughter has, through scouting, toured a water-reclamation plant and a bakery, helped clean up her school, watched a women's basketball game and a baseball game, and she's learned countless lessons on how to relate to the world around her.

My son is new to scouting, but already has participated in a food drive (which my other kids also participated in) and toured or watched video tours about places like a newspaper or a truck manufacturer. He helped make a cake and bought another boy's cake in an auction to raise money for the church where his meetings are held. He's learned that the effort put forth to try to sell popcorn and reaped the benefits of that effort. (For him? Earning a marshmallow crossbow shooter.)

But besides all of these experiences I see my kids gaining confidence and camaraderie. I see my kids earn new ranks, new badges, new try-its or whatever the cloth mementoes are called but the mementoes are irrelevant. It's the pride I see when they are recognized for their efforts that makes me want to continue. They accomplish and are proud of those accomplishments.

As they should be.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Great Gracie Chase

I just love this book!  When I read with my kids, The Great Gracie Chase one of my go-to favorites.  It's a sweet story that's easy to read, with just a touch of mischief.  How can you resists a little mischief?

If you haven't read it with your kids yet, I definitely recommend Gracie!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Water and snow and rocks, oh my!

Isn't that amazing?

For more Wordless Wednesday, click here or visit 5Minutes for Mom.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Keep Your Kids Shoes in Check

Shoes should not be a problem at our house.

I'm the only girl here, which means our equation is:
# of shoes mom owns = # of shoes all 4 boys own + a few more if we're counting flip flops

I mean flip flops don't really count, do they?

Nonetheless, we have shoe issues.  Each boys owns 1 pair of tennis shoes, 1 pair of loafer-type shoes, and 1 pair of boots.  Plus, they each have eighty-five pairs of sporting goods shoes since apparently every sport requires a different type of cleat.  And basketball shoes, which, thankfully, require no cleats.  Also, they need some sort of cool sandal to wear to the sporting event, because you would never want to show up in your game shoes, ready to go.  Duh.

If your house even slightly resembles mine, you will recognize this frequent conversation.

5  minutes before it's time to leave:

Kid:  "Mom, where are my shoes?"

Me:  "Are they in the shoe closet?"

Kid:  "No.  Mooom, where are they?  I need them."

Me:  "Gee, honey, I haven't worn them lately."

I am actually considering just recording this whole thing and hitting "play" when it starts, so I can leave the room and get a much needed diet Pepsi.

To help our growing offspring get a clue in life--and get themselves organized--we got crafty.

First, we ripped the old bifold doors off of the "shoe (and coat) closet."

Then, we ripped out the nasty old linoleum, and started working.

We could've just stuck with a nice new linoleum, but I find that setting tile is a wonderful way to enrich your marriage.  Try it sometime, you'll see.

Next, we drew dimensions, cut and painted wood, and got out one of my very favorite tools, the nail blaster.  (Pretty sure that's not the official name, but I think you know what I mean.)

The final touch was adding those baskets.  The SHOE baskets.  The ones you PUT YOUR SHOES IN the minute you take them off.  Theoretically.  

The good news:  We have the "Where are my shoes" conversation about 90% less often.  

The bad news:  Have you ever smelled a basket of boys' shoes?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

When I was a perfect little girl*, my dad used to buy me a pretty heart-shaped box of candy every Valentines Day.
photo credit: Dan4th
Sometimes it had flowers, sometimes it was velvety,

But it was always just mine and I knew I was very special.

But back in those dark ages, kids didn't get candy at every opportunity the way ours do.  Or maybe my parents just hid it from me.  Candy was special.  They weren't throwing it at parades down in my neck of the woods.

So I like to buy my boys a box of Valentine's Day because of what it meant to me.  But with candy-at-every corner, I'm not sure they'll remember it the same way.  Also, because they're boys.

But, still, I wanted to get them something. I found these cute boxes by Whitman's.  
No bows, no velvet, but just right for my boys!  

How do you celebrate with your kids?  Do you buy candy?  A gift?  A special card?  

Whatever you do, I hope you have a great day!  

*Go ahead and ask him.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Easy Enchiladas

I am all about easy and quick when it comes to cooking.  Here is an Easy Chicken & Cheese Enchiladas recipe I use that gets gobbled up by all my picky eaters!

prep: 10 minutes      bake: 40 minutes 

1 can condensed cream of chicken soup (we use cream of celery sometimes)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup pace picante sauce (I use my favorite salsa "Archer Farms rasperry thick & chunky salsa) feel free to use your favorite salsa
2 tsp. chili powder
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (we sometimes use mexican cheese)
6 flour tortillas (6") warmed (I use 8 or more)
1 small tomato chopped
1 green onion sliced

1. stir soup, sour cream, picante sauce, chili powder in medium bowl.
2. stir 1 cup picante sauce mixture, chicken and cheese in large bowl.
3. divide chicken mixture among tortillas. roll up the tortillas and place seamside up in 2qt shallow baking dish.  pour remaining picante sauce mixture over filled tortillas.
4. bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until enchiladas are hot and bubbling.  top with tomato and onion.

please note, it takes me more than 10 minutes of prep because 1-4 of my kids wants something from me that just can't wait. much like the second I get on the phone:)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Friday, February 4, 2011


One of our favorites is brinner. Breakfast for dinner. Our latest favorite arrived with our Belgian Waffle maker. I looked for a good recipe that would make fluffy, yumminess for anytime of the day. I found this recipe, and have tweaked it to be our own.

2 c Hodgon's Mill gluten free all purpose flour
2 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs separated
2 T sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
4 T smart balance
2 c almond milk

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside. Mix yolks, sugar, vanilla, smart balance, and milk. Add to dry ingredients and mix until just blended. Whisk the egg whites until peaks form. Fold them into the batter gently and until just mixed.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

About our story

Don Miller's A Million Miles in a Thousand Years changed my perspective on life. I won't go as far to say "life changing" but pretty darn close. He challenges us to live a life that is story worthy - screenplay worthy. He introduces us to people, real, "life"people, who are living screenplay worthy lives, not because they want a movie, but because they want life - true, passion-filled life. They desire life so much that they make their purpose, instead of waiting for it. They reach for goals that are well out of their reach fully aware of the struggles that will ensue. They face those struggles with hope and confidence, because they know a story without struggle is no story at all.

Miller tackles our fear of living full on as he faces his own fears and inadequacies, He says, "fear is a manipulative emotion that can trick us into living a boring life." and "...once you live a good story, you get a taste for a kind of meaning in life, and you can't go back to being normal; you can't go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time."

Miller is a Christian, I don't know if you remember, but he gave the DNC prayer, so be ready for some God talk in there - the nice thing is that it isn't over the top, it isn't ridiculously right or left, it just is. It is one guy who, humbly, is working through this world and finding his best life.

This read made me consider how I live, how I talk to others, how I parent, how I work, and how I dream. It is, very much, worth checking out.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


I'm wishing for a backyard that isn't covered in dog poo so I could just kick my kids outside at any time. I suppose I could send them out front, but there is this whole "scare thing" we have with kids playing in the front unsupervised. This makes me angry because of "thegoodolddays" (when did I become old?) I spent my life outside, running around the neighborhood without worry about my safety or strangers. I was well versed in "stranger-danger", but it wasn't necessary where I grew up.

I miss that for my kids.

We have a lovely neighborhood with great neighbors, but one of us is on the stoop while our kids play...always. We live two blocks away from a park, but I don't know if I can just send my kids up there to play like my mom sent us out to play. The short answer is I can't...which is sad, so sad. I learned so many lessons playing with my friends outside with no adults around. We learned to manage our disagreements without intervention. We deciphered which injuries were worthy of tears and which were not. We learned how to stay away from bullies, how to make new friends, and how to have fun without someone telling us how. We learned how to maneuver around our neighborhood on our bikes like ninjas!

Right now my kids are playing in the snow out front. I'm typing on the bench next to the window with it cracked just enough to hear their every word. It's a step. It's a start. I hope with our neighborhood association we continue to build a community in which it is okay to send our kids out to play. That we have each other's backs. That we take care of our neighborhood kids so they too can be free within safety. Free within reason. Free to learn to play in the wonderful world of childhood.