Category Archives: Adventures in Mommydom

Picky Eater Survival Guide.

Don’t forget–you have until Wednesday to enter to win a free custom headband from Guavaloo!

When I was a new mom, I swore I would never be a short-order cook who made something different for every family member. I’d make one delicious, nutritious meal after another, & my whole family would love it. I was blessed with a toddler who at least tried anything, & I thought I was well on my way to being the next Catherine McCord.

Then that toddler turned into a 4-year-old. Apparently 4-year-olds think all food* is poison. And I got another toddler who learned at a shockingly tender age what a hunger strike is.

*Except pizza, pancakes, PB&J, hot dogs, & spaghetti.

Boy did my standards change! When my little one was losing weight (I wish I knew her secret! Oh wait, it was not eating.), I had mountains of kid-sized bowls of barely touched food in my sink–anything to get her to eat something. One night I may or may not have fed her peanut butter by the spoonful. Not my proudest moment.

peanut butterMealtime is still a battle sometimes, but now that we’re out of the woods I feel like I can share some of the tricks I used to survive (& help my kids survive!) without resorting to Goldfish & frozen chicken nuggets.

Stay out of the Snack Spiral. I can’t tell you the number of parents I’ve heard say, “Oh, Junior lived off of Goldfish crackers & juice at that age.” Why do you think he wouldn’t eat anything else? Because he was filling up at snacktime on just that! If you’re worried about your child’s eating, start by cutting back on snacks & not letting your kids graze. Trust me, kids are a lot more adventurous when they’re allowed to get hungry before a meal! They won’t starve if they’re limited to 3 meals & 2 small, scheduled, seated snacks a day.
I take this one step further & make a rule of not offering “snack foods” (crackers, fruit leather, etc.) at dinner time, & don’t use it as a crutch if they haven’t eaten enough “real food” at a meal.

Meet your kids in the middle. I still steadfastly refuse to be a short-order cook, so the whole family eats our fair share of “kid foods” (healthed up a little). For instance, on our menu every week is at least one of the following: homemade pizza (lots lower in calories than delivery, especially with part-skim mozzarella), spaghetti & meatballs, & “brinner” (you’ve seen a few of my healthy pancake recipes on the blog already). I enjoy these meals too, & if nothing else, I know that I at least have a couple dinners a week when I’m not fighting them.
If you can’t stand the few things they will eat (like if they’ll only eat fish sticks), then designate that for a date night or a night when you & your spouse order something in for yourselves. My 4-year-old loves when the babysitter comes because she knows that’s when she gets Annie’s mac & cheese. One word of warning about this second tactic though: don’t do it every week. The more the family eats the same meal, the more unified you’ll be & the easier it’ll be to convince your kids to eat what’s in front of them, because that’s what the whole family’s eating. As tempting as it is to feed the kids nuggets every other night & then treat yourselves to sushi after they’re in bed, that could backfire on you when they dig in their heels & whine, “But YOU don’t eat ___ when YOU don’t want to!”

Make like a fancy restaurant–try courses. Have something on the menu that they WILL eat at every meal so you know they’re not starving. But don’t bring it out right away. My girls are fruit-itarians–they would subsist entirely on grapes & strawberries if I let them. So I leave the fruit in the fridge. When they’ve eaten enough protein & veggies to balance it–my 4-year-old always asks “How many numbers?” (meaning how many bites) as soon as she gets her plate–THEN I bring out the fruit “course” & let them go to town, fully prepared for them to not touch what else is on their plate for the rest of the night.

Don’t be boring. Change up how you’re serving things. When my toddler went on her hunger strike shortly after turning 1 & wound up losing over a pound, I was in a panic. The day she stopped eating her favorite food in the world, strawberries, I was in tears. What was wrong??? The next night I saw her reaching for my strawberries instead of hers. Do you know what the problem was? She had decided I was cutting them too small! Instead of the teeny-bite-sized pieces I’d been giving her, she wanted a whole quarter of a strawberry. It was as simple as that, & she was back to eating strawberries. Do you know how the hunger strike ended once & for all? I handed her a fork. Seriously. She didn’t even use it at the beginning, but knowing she COULD have the control somehow fixed her not eating.raisins
So in short, if they stop eating something they’d eaten before, try changing what you call it or how you serve it. For example, your child might decide he wants his “night-vision carrot sticks” (because of the beta carotene) with dip, or her “dinosaur trees” (that’s what we call broccoli) raw instead of cooked, or she prefers short pasta to spaghetti, or… she’ll only eat raisins out of the box.

Let them help. Recruit your “kitchen helpers” to be your sous chefs: let them choose the fruits & veggies at the store & then wash them or add them to the pot. The more involved they are, the more excited they’ll be about trying something new.

Be sneaky. When all else fails, sneak the good stuff into their food. Veggie puree in the spaghetti sauce, whole-wheat flour in the baked goods, Greek yogurt in the pancakes–all of these go a long way to helping maintain the balance in your little one’s diet until he decides to get more adventurous.

Best of luck with your picky eaters! Do you have any other tricks & tips for surviving?

Linked up at Nifty Thrifty Sunday and Crystal & Co.

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The Munchkin’s Best Birthday Yet.

I have a confession to make: I didn’t make a single thing for this birthday party.

And it was AWESOME.

And I don’t regret it one bit.

Way back in February The Munchkin told me she wanted a mermaid party. “Not a ‘Little Mermaid’ party, a mermaid party.” I love this girl! She makes up her mind & sticks to it. With all this prep time, I had grand designs for customized printable invitations, themed food, etc., but the reality of a newborn, & family in town for said newborn’s baby blessing (isn’t she cute?), set in really quickly. Still, it took awhile to get past the mom guilt brought on by picture-perfect Pinterest parties. Do I love my child less because I bought my (still cute) decorations from Oriental Trading Company, hand-wrote fill-in-the-blank invitations, & ordered a — gasp! — supermarket cake?

Absolutely not! I realized that in past years I had poured so much of myself into these events that, not only was I so stressed out I was stressing everyone else out, but I was seeking validation from other people instead of my Munchkin. This year my only pre-party panic moment was about whether we should pay a hefty deposit to move the outdoor party inside because of Tropical Storm Debby. Thanks to a lot of prayer (& even, in a weak moment, an email to the FOX 13 morning meteorologist), we kept the party at the splash park just like she wanted, & we all got to actually enjoy it.

So I’m writing this to let my fellow “just moms” out there that you don’t need to order custom everything from Etsy or specialty bake shops or whatever. You don’t need to impress the grownups there. Sometimes a splash park, a Publix cake, & some party hats with stickers on them are all you need to make a birthday girl’s day.

That’s what’s important!

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Taking a sick day.

Today I’m taking care of a sick Munchkin.

But I’ll be back Wednesday having (hopefully) conquered my irrational fear of pie!

(Making, not eating.)

(DEFINITELY not eating.)

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Preparing your child for a move. (Part 2 of 2: Settling in.)

We’ve been here a week now & only have a few (granted, giant) boxes left to unpack! Hooray! It feels a lot better than where we were 3 weeks ago. Or even a week & a half ago:

Yikes!

Now that we really are settling in, I thought now would be a good time to post part 2 of my “preparing your child for a move” series. Part 1, before the move, is right here.

The Munchkin playing in the boxes before the move... Recognize the beer boxes I talked about in the last post?

Here some ideas about how to help your kids adjust to your new home & neighborhood:

  • When you & your stuff first get to your new place, let your child help unpack & decide where something should go in her room. This can give her a sense of control when things are crazy.
  • Set your kids’ rooms up (the furniture, at least) right away. Especially if you’ve been driving a few days, it’ll feel good to be reunited with your stuff. Plus, sleeping in a new, big, empty room is creepy.
  • Try to get pictures back up on the walls again as soon as possible to make it start feeling like home.
  • As you unpack, talk about what’s better about your new place: “There are so many shelves in your new room for all of your toys!” etc. (The Munchkin’s new room is so cavernous we need two nightlights just to see at night! Whereas ours is barely big enough for our bed & dressers. How is that fair?)
  • Even though things are hectic, try to get involved in your new community as quickly as possible to make new friends. Congregations in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, known as wards, are organized geographically. So as soon as we knew our new address, we were able to find out which ward we would belong to! If you’re not LDS, find a church or temple to attend. Involve your children in lessons, Gymboree, or after-school groups to meet the other parents & help your kids make friends.
  • Speaking of making friends, teach your child how to introduce herself to new people.
  • Just like before you moved, try to take a little while off from unpacking to give your children attention. Take an hour or two to drive around your new town. Find a new neighborhood pizza place to call “yours” (we just found ours!). Locate the library & get a library card. Go play on the playground nearby!
  • Once you get more settled in, if you feel up to it, hold a housewarming party & invite people from your new community!
  • Even with all the craziness, try to stick to naptime & bedtime routines as much as you can. With everything else changing, it’s helpful to have a familiar routine to hold onto.
  • Understand that certain milestones like potty training & sleeping through the night may regress or suffer setbacks for a little while during this transition. Your kids might start acting out a little more than usual (ours sure did) too. It’s normal.
  • Lastly & most importantly, emphasize that no matter where you live, your family will be together, & that’s what matters!

works for me wednesday at we are that family

 

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Top 10 things I’m going to miss about NYC.

I’m late posting today. I also happen to be in Maryland at the moment, on what is quite possibly the slowest Internet connection ever. The movers asked to come a day early (yesterday), & decided at 1pm today that they’d be delivering our stuff in Florida on Saturday, so we left at 4:40pm, just as rush hour traffic was starting to pick up. Fortunately, we made good time, & The Munchkin only got to bed… 2 hours late. Yikes.

Everything happened so fast I honestly haven’t had much time yet to wax sentimental about my favorite city in the world. But I thought I’d post a few of the many things I’ll miss about New York, in no particular order, & that you shouldn’t miss if you come visit.

1.) This view:

2.) The food. Great Italian everywhere, great bakeries everywhere. We’ve been told that “the water’s not right” in Florida for either of those things. Hearing that made me die a little inside. Here are just a few of our favorites: burgers, chocolate, pasta, & pancakes.

3.) Magnolia. Belongs in a class of its own.

4.) Snow! Not limited to NYC, obviously, but I love it in spite of the fact that it often makes walking in the city pretty gross. It’s still fun, & so magical to watch it start falling amid all the lights of the city.

5.) Holidays. Especially Christmas at Macy’s.  From fireworks on the 4th of July to the Macy’s Parade on Thanksgiving, to Easter Egg hunts in the park, the city just knows how to celebrate everything with style & gusto.

6.) There is always free stuff to do! We used the events calendars at Mommy Poppins & Parents Connect (I’m going to be using that second one after our move too; they have dozens of cities on there) to find fun new things to do for free just about every single week! We also love ALL the playgrounds EVERYWHERE! No matter where we went or what we did, there was almost always a great park nearby! (No picture, thanks to Slowest Internet Ever…)

7.) Public transit. Yes, taking the car is often more convenient, especially with more than 1 Munchkin, but it just isn’t as FUN! Trains, subways, ferries (we avoid the buses because we hate traffic) — what’s not to love if you’re a kid? (Also no picture, thanks to Slowest Internet Ever.)

8.) Broadway. We got to go on dates to Mamma Mia! & How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying with Daniel Radcliffe & John Larroquette. We also saw Phantom & Wicked when we were here on our honeymoon 5 years ago. I’ve been in (well, under — I was in the pit orchestra) lots of musicals, & there is nothing like Broadway!

9.) The “dinosaur bones museum.” This is one of The Munchkin’s favorite places in the world. We got to visit one last time with one of her playgroup friends while the movers were here yesterday. (Slowest Internet Ever won’t let me upload the photo though, so here’s an old one.) We hope she likes the aquarium in Tampa almost as much!

10.) Obviously we’re going to miss the people the absolute most. We’ve made a lot of friends here. This is the first time The Munchkin has been old enough to make any real friendships; she says all her friends’ names almost every day, & she looks forward to church every week so she can see them all at Nursery. We also love how personal the city (& its surrounding environs) can be. Even though it seems big, loud, & scary at first glance, once you really get in there, it’s just such a personable place! We loved walking into the diner or bodega (small market) near our apartment & having the waitresses & checkstand girls greet The Munchkin by name. We loved being greeted by the security guard at the front desk every time we enter or leave the building, & The Munchkin loved getting a cookie at the Italian bakery when we went to get our weekly pizza dough. What a friendly place!

New York really is my favorite city. I love Hoboken too. If you are planning a visit, email me! (See my “About” page for the address.) I’ll send you my guide to “doing” NYC on the cheap with kids & then live vicariously through you as you enjoy the city!

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Preparing your child for a move. (Part 1 of 2: Before you leave.)

We’re moving. In a week & a half. Yikes!

Since that’s what’s on my mind right now, & since lots of people move during the summer, I thought I’d offer a few tips for helping your kids adjust to moving to a new place. Today I’m posting on how to prepare for the move itself; later I’ll post on how to settle in.

  • Show your kids photos of your new home & new town. Help them find reasons to be excited about the new place. The Munchkin is especially excited to be near the beach.
  • If you are packing yourself, START EARLY. Last year, with a husband taking law school finals, I started packing two months in advance while The Munchkin napped. There’s only so much you can pack that far ahead of time (you’re using everything else too frequently), but it really helps as you get down to the wire. It also helps your 10-month-old skip crawling in favor of cruising, because there are handholds everywhere!
  • Also if you are packing yourself, don’t pay for boxes! I had hoarded diapers.com boxes for months. Any time you get a package, collapse the box right away & stash it in a closet. Another great resource for free packing boxes is liquor stores; just go in & ask for some of their beer boxes. They’re the perfect size & durability for books & other heavy things. The people helping you move in might look at you a little funny though…
  • If your firm is paying for movers, PRAISE HEAVEN. The end.
  • Try to keep pictures up on the walls as long as possible. Even if there are boxes everywhere, having these familiar touches will help keep home feeling like home right up until you move.
  • Moving is a time-consuming process. Even if you’re not having to pack everything yourself, there are still things like getting a place to live, arranging for utilities on both ends, forwarding mail, etc. Kids can feel neglected; take a few minutes every day to just listen to them & give them your undivided attention. Even better, let them choose something special to do to take some time away from moving. This brings me to…
  • Have a “bucket list” of one thing each family member wants to do in your old town before you leave. This will help everyone feel valued (see above) & let all of you “say goodbye.” The Munchkin really wanted to go on the “mewwy-woun.” We’re also planning final visits to Magnolia & Shake Shack.
  • If you have time, throw a goodbye party with friends! Or let a friend throw one for you! That way everyone can say goodbye at once.
  • Speaking of friends, explain to your kids that they won’t get to see their friends all the time anymore. Let them know it’s okay to be sad & miss them, but encourage them by saying that they’ll be able to make new friends in your new town.
  • Explain the moving process to young kids: “A man will pack up your toys & clothes & put them in a big truck (bonus points for showing them the truck if they love trucks) & drive it to our new house! We’re going to drive separately in the car, & our things will meet us there!” {We just had a Family Home Evening about moving, where we talked about Nephi’s family in the Book of Mormon & how they moved to a new place too, & they packed up all of their things as well (see 1 Nephi 18:5-6). After we explained the process, we did the activity below.}
  • Parents magazine just had an article about helping kids adjust to moving, & one thing I thought was a great idea was to let your child decorate her own “treasure box” with stickers to put her favorite things inside. Then take it with you in the car so she isn’t separated from it. Here’s The Munchkin’s treasure box; the first thing she did was put in the 3-inch plastic Woody & Jessie dolls that go with her everywhere lately.
  • MAKE SURE THE LOVEY DOESN’T GET PACKED. IT GOES IN THE CAR. THE END.
  • Lastly, take a minute to say goodbye to your old house. (This was another Parents idea.) During your last meal there, likely on paper plates in your empty house, let each family member say his or her favorite memory of living there. Get your kids excited about making new memories!

Any other tips for moving with kids?

works for me wednesday at we are that family

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Happy 2nd birthday, Munchkin!

It’s hard to believe it’s been 2 years…

Happy birthday, dear Munchkin!

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A Father’s Day breakfast your kids will WANT to help you make.

Sometimes I think Father’s Day would be more appropriately named Husband’s Day. I know you know what I’m talking about. I don’t see many 9-year-olds perusing craft blogs or back issues of Martha Stewart Living looking for cute presents to make for Dad, do you? Mom does it all.

Well, fortunately for you, I’ve got a delicious breakfast you can make for Dad that your kids will beg to help you with. Why? Because it’s messy. Unbelievably messy, if you’re doing it right (or wrong, I guess, depending on your point of view). They’ll get to run their fingers through cinnamon-sugar & sprinkle it over gooey, butter-dredged muffins. Have the Dustbuster ready, ladies!

This recipe comes from ranch wife-turned-blogger-turned role model Ree Drummond’s cookbook The Pioneer Woman Cooks! She calls them French Breakfast Puffs, but My Husband The Patriot prefers the term… (& they are for him, after all, so we’ll go with it…)

Freedom Puffs

  • 3 cups flour
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. (plus a pinch — this is me saying this, not Ree) nutmeg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 tsp. cinnamon
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 & lightly grease a muffin tin. (Ree says this makes 12 muffins, but I always end up with at least 16, even overfilling the muffin tin slightly.)
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, & nutmeg.
  3. In your mixer bowl, cream together sugar & shortening. Add eggs; mix.
  4. With the mixer on low, add flour mixture & milk, alternating 1/3 of the flour, 1/3 of the milk, 1/3 of the flour, 1/3 of the milk, etc.
  5. Fill muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden & a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Melt butter in a large shallow bowl or glass baking dish in your microwave (this takes a minute or so).
  7. Combine cinnamon & sugar in another large shallow bowl.
  8. Dip warm muffins one at a time in the butter, coating thoroughly, then let your kids roll them in the cinnamon-sugar mixture to coat. The Munchkin kept calling it “sand.” Maybe my bowl should’ve been the size of a sandbox in order to contain it all…
  9. Wake up Dad & enjoy these babies warm! Maybe with a topper or flag like this free printable one from Amy Locurto. Or wrap in Saran Wrap, stick in a Ziploc freezer bag, & freeze for later. As Ree says, “They’re in the ‘reheats beautifully’ section of my life.” Just zap one in the microwave, wrapped loosely in a paper towel, for 45 seconds or so!

What are you (& hopefully your kids!) making for Dad this Father’s Day?

Tidy Mom

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My denim dilemma.

I’m a jeans girl. I live in them. But I’ve developed a problem lately. Since having The Munchkin, it seems that all my jeans are ripping at the knees! It would seem that all the crouching, kneeling, crawling, & knee-walking one does with a toddler is detrimental to denim. You think I’m exaggerating? Let’s take a look:

Pair number one: Guess Monterey straight. I’ve had these since before I was pregnant with The Munchkin. These were my FAVORITE JEANS EVER. When they started to wear at the knees, I bought…

Pair number two: GAP 1969 straight. (Seeing a pattern here? I go with what works, people.) After less than a month, both knees ripped. Like, Axl-Rose, we’re-back-in-the-’90s ripped. Right in the middle of the 5th Ave.-53rd St. subway station. I crouched down to talk to The Munchkin, & riiiiiiip. Audibly. In a subway station. Hey, at least it wasn’t the sides or something, right? So then I decided maybe Guess was the way to go after all &, upon trying & failing to find the exact pair from 3 years earlier, I got…

Pair number three: Guess Nicole cigarette. & yesterday I discovered that the right knee is threadbare in these too!

So as you can see above, I took the pair I liked least (the fabric doesn’t feel quite right, & besides, I’d had the least amount of time of the three to bond with them) & cut them off just above the rip to make some Bermudas. Generally I’m pretty opposed to cutoffs, but I was inspired by the bottom photo of this post by Mormon mommy blogger Natalie Holbrook, whose husband was in classes at NYU with my husband, & who’s way cooler & hipper (word?) than me, & is super nice besides. She rolled them up a bit at the knee to make them less cutoff-looking. Then I was in Nordstrom Rack yesterday & saw tons of denim Bermudas cut & sewn the same way — on purpose! So I must have something right. They look super cute on, but I’m not a fashionista, this is not a fashion blog, & my husband is not a fashion photographer, so I’m going to spare you the pain. But I feel pretty proud of myself nonetheless.

So, friends, here’s the denim dilemma (dilenimma?): I’ve taken care of one pair; what do I do to keep wearing the other two pairs of holey jeans without looking like I wish I were back in the ’90s? & how can I keep my future pairs of jeans from doing the same thing just as I’m getting attached?

works for me wednesday at we are that family

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Mother’s Day in real life.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms, grandmas, moms-to-be, & women with a mother heart out there! I had every intention of posting something delicious that even your husband could make to spoil you with today, but then this happened:

This is how I spent the whole weekend, from our 5th anniversary on Friday (well, strictly speaking, I spent it awake starting at 3:45am with an ear-infected Munchkin & then attempting to recuperate for the rest of the day while My Husband The Soon-To-Be-LLM-Graduate took a final & The Munchkin watched more Disney movies than is healthy for a person her size) to Mother’s Day today. I’m still exhausted & hacking like a 4-pack-a-day smoker, but I think the worst may be over & I’ll be back to posting delicious recipes & fun crafts soon!

(I will say that My Husband The Also Sick & Studying For Finals But Still Thoughtful & Romantic did buy me two types of flowers to celebrate both occasions, made us lunch & “brinner” with The Munchkin’s help today, & has been showering me with love & concern all weekend. So Mother’s Day was a success in that regard.)

I hope that Mother’s Day was healthier & happier for you! How did you celebrate?

P.S.: If it wasn’t as happy as you’d hoped, do yourself a favor & try to track down the “Mother’s Day” episode of Season 1 of “The Middle” for a good laugh. (If you do find it online for free somewhere, give me the link! I couldn’t find it anywhere!)

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