Pregnancy and child care

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Input welcome: Dealing with picky eaters!

Amy is hosting Kitchen Tip Tuesdays for me today! Be sure to head over to her blog to read about making fresh strawberry limeade slushes, and you can add your links over there this week too! :)

My tip this week is about dealing with fussy eaters at the dinner table!

I've gotten a number of emails from moms wondering what to do with children who are picky eaters. One mom writes:

I have three kids age 6 and under. My husband is an over the road trucker and gone all the time. It's hard to come up with stuff that everyone will eat. No one likes hamburger. Not big on the veggies, although I do offer them. What can you suggest?

Our children actually eat some of whatever we're having for our meals. We have made them do this from the time they started eating solid foods (at about 10 months old) starting with whatever they were able to eat. I started with giving them some of whatever vegetable we were eating for the meal. Then fruit... that sort of thing.

Gradually they have developed a taste for most things, and they must eat at least a bite of even the things they don't care for. For the longest time, my boys didn't care for lettuce, so I would only make them eat 1 small leaf on their plate. Over the last year or so, I have gradually increased and they now are accustomed to eating 8-10 small lettuce leaves on their plates when we have salad at our meal. (For reference, my boys are currently 3 and almost-5.)

If they are being particularly fussy about a meal, it usually means they aren't really that hungry, and we let them wait to eat. NO snacks and certainly NO desserts until they have eaten the "real food" for the meal.

When a child is hungry, they become much less particular about what they will eat. ;) If my children don't want to finish their food, that is fine, but they do not get any sweets/dessert and when they are hungry later for a snack, they have to finish their food first.

It sounds kind of hardline, and I suppose it is. But this strategy has eliminated most mealtime issues and our children are happy, healthy eaters! :)

I know there are certain foods that my children may never develop a taste for, and that is all right. Since we are offering them several healthy foods at each meal, they can fill up on what they do like while still eating a little of what they don't like as well. (And in my experience, if given the option, children will usually gravitate towards the sweets/desserts and pass over the healthy stuff even if they like the healthy stuff!)

Anyway, I hope some of this info can be helpful to you as you go about deciding what changes to incorporate in your home to help mealtimes become less stressful! :)

Does anyone else have good tips to add on the topic of children and eating? I'd love to hear them! Even though what I outlined above has worked well for us, I'm all about new ways to make life more fun! :)

Also, be sure to head over to Amy's blog this week for more great kitchen tips! :)

Focus of our days

Children need purpose and focus. I've been working extra hard lately to constantly channel their energy and efforts towards good things rather than picking at each other.

Above -- I asked the boys to watch the cinnamon roll dough as the bread machine kneaded it. A fun diversion!

One of my resolutions has been to take them outside every single day. Our apartment is certainly sufficient living quarters (900 sq.ft.) but for the children, being stuck indoors day after day just isn't healthy.

Thankfully, the winters here are compatible with lots of outdoor activities! I've been taking the children on long walks nearly every day for the past two weeks and it finally feels as though it's making a difference in their temperaments. :) (Side note: This online pedometer is a fun way to find out just how far we've walked!)

The cinnamon rolls I made from the dough, starting to rise.

My boys (ages 3 and almost-5) also help me around the house -- a lot. With my guidance, they do most of the laundry (except some folding) and picking up toys. They also help with dishes, vacuuming, trash, dusting, and cleaning windows. We always work together (never just by themselves), which cuts down on complaints. ;)

Other activities that fill our days include school work (reading practice, worksheets, coloring, math), reading books, and some free play time. The boys don't take naps, but Ruth (1) does take two naps, each about an hour long.

It makes for a very full day for me, but I find that our days go smoothest when I am giving the children 100% of my attention and am constantly instructing and directing them towards more important, "real life" activities that help us function as a family!

Input welcome: Carpet in the dining room

Why do so many apartments include carpeted dining areas?! Personally I think carpet + kids eating = disaster! I'm already not a big fan of carpet at all (hello, germs and allergies!) but under the kitchen table? With children eating??!

Our new place, like all the others we looked at, has carpet in the dining area. Yehoshua (4) is a neat and careful eater, so we've allowed him to eat at the kitchen table. Eliyahu (2) is a little messier and so we moved him back into the high chair and set it in the kitchen (which, thankfully, has linoleum!).

But, Ruth is ready for the high chair now. I'm tired of eating one-handed; after all, she's almost 1! And what about when we have families over who have small children?

We're planning to get this child-size picnic table and set it up in the kitchen. From the measurements, it looks like that would take up most of the kitchen floorspace, so it would be something we got out for each meal, and put away (or took into the living room?) afterward. It would seat several children, though, and I wouldn't have to worry every time Yehoshua had a glass of milk, or a bowl of soup. I also liked the idea of a picnic table since it could be used outside in the distant future when we someday have a small yard. :) (We had a borrowed one in Ohio in our yard.)

Other ideas were to get a large piece of plastic and put it under the kitchen table, but we haven't come across any very affordable large pieces of plastic yet.

Surely some of you are also in the situation of children + carpeted dining room. What's your solution? I'd love to hear!! :)

Little helpers open boxes

Eliyahu (2) opening boxes of butter

My little helpers love to open boxes! I try to remember to call for "help" whenever there is a box, bag, or package of something that needs to be opened. My children feel like important helpers, they improve their fine motor skills, and it keeps them from fighting occupied. :)

Joshua drinks tea when he gets up for work, so the boys end up opening lots of tea bags. We also open boxes of cereal, butter, etc...

Recently at Big Lots we found a great deal on some nearly-expired granola snack packs. There were 5 little pouches of granola in each big box -- what a waste of packaging material! I didn't have room on my pantry shelves to store the boxes, so Yehoshua helped me by opening each box and we put the pouches into 2 big plastic buckets. :)

Husking corn in the sunny outdoors

Yehoshua and Eliyahu help me husk corn

My mom gave us a huge bag of corn on the cob from her garden! I took Yehoshua and Eliyahu outside to help me husk some while Ruth was taking her morning nap. :)

The boys loved helping! Near the end, I suggested to Yehoshua that he use his little toy wagon to haul the husks over to the compost bin.

Our grass is very brown and dry in some places... the good news is that means I haven't needed to mow for several weeks... since we still haven't gotten a lawn mower. :)

I haven't shared a clothesline picture lately, so I took a picture of my lines full of diapers. :) Hanging out laundry is another task that often gets done during Ruth's morning nap. It seems like by the time I'm ready to hang laundry, she's asleep! If not, I just take her out and she sits in the stroller and watches us. :)

Outdoor getaway

Eating lunh on the porch

Our Spring has been exceptionally cool thus far. We've only recently had a few days in a row where no jacket was needed for playing outside. :) Of course, the boys hate to come indoors for anything when it's that nice outside.

I like to extend their playtime in the fresh air by serving lunch on the front porch steps.

Peanut butter and honey sandwich

Peanut butter and honey on wheat bread makes a quick lunch.

Doggie sits beside Yehoshua

Doggie, who is too noisy to be used indoors, makes a good pet for sunny days. After playtime, Doggie (along with a few other toys) gets put safely away in the garage for the night. :)

Plates for children

Children-sized portions

We used leftover chicken meat from an oven-roasted chicken to make hot chicken sandwiches for lunch today. I served the sandwiches with asparagus and easy bread sticks.

These two plates were for Yehoshua (4) and Eliyahu (2). They eat the same amount usually, though is does seem as though their appetites are slowing down a little right now. Maybe they're finishing off that growth spurt. :)

I've been putting their food on small saucer-sized plates, as it seems to encourage them to not make a mess. They also do better about eating their food rather than picking through it, spreading it around on the plate, and then saying "I'm full. Can I have dessert?" ;)

Easy Lasagna Helpers

My lasagna helpers, hard at work!

We made a dish of easy lasagna this morning, which I'll bake this afternoon for dinner. When I put the lasagna in the oven, I'll start the dough for Italian Cheese Bread in my bread machine (on the dough cycle). When the lasagna comes out of the oven, I'll bake the bread (it only takes 12 minutes to bake!) and heat up some veggies. :)

Almost finished...

I had two helpers with the lasagna! :) In the first picture, Yehoshua is breaking up the clumps of meat for the meat/sauce mixture (I use frozen ground beef that I already cooked with onions in it) and Eliyahu is stirring the cottage cheese mixture. :)

Yehoshua called the lasagna noodles "train tracks", and counted out three pieces each time I was ready for a layer of pasta. :)

The unbaked lasagna

I love making this lasagna. It's just so fun! This dish is in my fridge right now. I can't wait! :)

And now, it's nap time. Eliyahu and Ruth are already asleep, so I'd better get to sleep, too! :)

The quest for weight loss and beauty

Some questions left by a recent commenter:

Your cooking is very rich. What are your thoughts on postpartum weight loss and being thin verses chubby? What are your thoughts on how media portrays beauty?

First, if you haven't already done so, you might enjoy reading my post titled Balance in Eating from a couple months ago. :) That post sort of explains our typical diet, which might not be quite as lavish as initially appears from the many recipes here. ;)

I am not what I would consider particularly thin, but I am also not considered overweight according to charts. Since weight and size varies so much from person to person, I'll just say that I am at the very top of what is considered a healthy weight for my height.

Of course, true healthiness isn't about certain numbers on the scale, and I actually don't weigh myself very often at all, since doing so only reminds me of what the scale used to say when I was 18... which was a considerably smaller number. I've found that doing things to be healthy (exercising, drinking lots of water, eating good foods, etc.) and not focusing on my weight is the best way for me to keep a good perspective on things! :)

I know thin people and chubby people who are unhealthy. I also know thin people as well as chubby people who are very healthy. Exercise and diet are far more important than a clothing size or a number on the scales.

About postpartum weight loss -- I think any weight loss should be done in a healthy manner. Not too quickly, and with exercise and healthy eating as the focus.

I was going to write out all my thoughts about postpartum weight loss, but found this article which pretty much covers everything. :) I personally don't worry about or try to lose weight until my baby is at least a couple months old. And no, I'm not one of those people who just lose all the extra weight without some effort. ;)

How the media portrays beauty? I haven't seen much true beauty in mainstream media. I am thankful that my husband sees me as beautiful just like I am. And honestly, we rarely expose ourselves to modern secular media outside of the news (which we read online). :)


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