Friday, December 30, 2011

Tips to help children become more adventurous eaters :)




"I can't believe your kids eat that!" is something we've gotten pretty used to hearing when feeding the littles around friends and family, or out at a restaurant.  What would they be eating that is so mind-blowing to those making this comment?  Maybe its the couscous with roasted vegetables.  Maybe its the broccoli and carrot salad.  Maybe, just maybe, it is the chicken and veggie quesadillas.  All I know, is that our babies love to EAT!  They have been great eaters since we started introducing solid foods as they showed interest, but I think the fact that we have been very intentional in the way that we feed them has helped out quite a bit in ensuring that they rarely refuses to at least try something new.  If you are wondering how you might be able to get your little one to break away from the boxed and canned foods and try out more fresh fruits and veggies, as well as homemade meals, then maybe some of the suggestions below will get them moving in the right direction :).

Suggestion #1:  DO NOT FORCE A CHILD TO EAT SOMETHING THEY ARE CLEARLY NOT INTERESTED IN EATING!!!

I can remember, almost as clearly as if it happened 5 minutes ago, a night growing up that I literally had to sit at the table all night until I finished a disgusting pasta meal (some kind of dried out noodles with tomatoes and anchovies...) that my parents had picked up from the grocery store deli earlier that day.  I cried, I begged, I refused, but nothing I did changed their minds-I was going to sit at the table until every last bit of that food was gone.  I remember wondering what I had done to deserve such a punishment.  I mean, I was one of the least picky eaters I knew-I ate, and enjoyed, almost all foods, and I was always willing to give new foods a try a try.  I ended up throwing the food in the garbage after hours of sitting at the table getting nowhere, and I got away with it because I hid it in the very bottom of the garbage can so that no one could see it.  What was the point of this whole story?  Forcing a child to eat something they either do not like or are not interested in is going to put you farther behind in your attempts to get them to at least try new things.  

Suggestion #2:  DO NOT BRIBE A CHILD TO TRY NEW FOODS OR EAT WHAT YOU HAVE GIVEN THEM!!!

You should NOT reward your child with material objects or special privileges when it comes to eating.  This only sets them up to expect a reward in other areas, such as following simple directions that you've given, cleaning up, getting ready for bed, etc.  The "reward" for eating well should always be focused on one thing-having a healthy & strong body because of the healthy choices you've made.   When our little ones try something new, we always praise them and tell them how proud we are, and how making such good choices is what makes them so strong and healthy :).  

Suggestion #3:  DON'T CRITICIZE A CHILD THAT IS UNWILLING TO TRY/EAT SOMETHING YOU HAVE GIVEN THEM!!!

To me, this just goes along with being an empathetic parent.  By being critical of your child in any area of their lives, you are telling them that their self-worth and value come from them acting a certain way, doing a certain thing, etc.  It can be extremely frustrating when your child seems bent on eating bananas all day every day, but continue to praise them for the things you think are going well (Mommy loves how you ate all of your banana!  Bananas are so good for you!), and put the rest behind you.  

Suggestion #4:  CONTINUE TO OFFER THE FOOD, EVEN IF THEY REFUSE TO TRY!!!

There have been plenty of times that our kids have showed absolutely no interest in whatever it was that we were wanting them to try, and even some times when they flat out refused to even have the new food on their tray!  What did we do?  Keep on trying!  At every meal, we would place the new food on the plate, and wait to see their reactions.  If they would shake their heads, we would just proceed with placing something they were already familiar with and fond of on the plate next to the new food, and continue the feeding.  If they began to throw the food off the plate, we would tell them that we do not throw food in a calm voice, and then remove the food and continue the feeding.  Eventually (sometimes DAYS later), curiosity would get the best of them and they would try the food!  Sometimes, they would decide that they instantly loved the new food and gobble it all up.  Sometimes, they would spit it out and move on to the foods they were already familiar with.  In those cases, we would continue to offer it, which has almost always led to them continuing to try it, and eventually liking, the new food.  Just be patient, and remember that it can take time for a little one to decide they like the taste/texture of the new foods being offered!   

Suggestion #5:  EAT AS A FAMILY!!!

One of the greatest ways to entice a little person to try something new is to let them see what you are eating, which tends to lead them into asking for a bite (because we all know what is one someone else's plate is so much more interesting and yummy then what is on their plate!).  We always sit down at the table together and our kids almost always asks for a bite of what we are having, so we give it to them!  If they are really interested, we will put a serving of the food on their plate, and let them dig in :).  

Suggestion #6:  NEVER SAY, "YOU WON'T LIKE THAT!"

It drives me INSANE when I hear parents tell their children that they won't like something.  How do you know if they aren't trying it?!?  This is just setting your child up to have an excuse in the future for not trying something new!  If there is something that our littles are interested in that they cannot have (nuts, something extremely spicy, something too crunchy), then I tell them exactly why they cannot have it yet (You can try this when you are a little older, but right now it is so crunchy, and Mommy is afraid you might choke.  When your teeth get a little bigger like Mommy's, then you can definitely have a bite!).   Just be honest with your kids about why you don't want them to try the food, but please don't tell them that it is because they won't like it!  Let them be the judge of that when you are ready for them to try it :).

These are just a few of the things that we feel have contributed to our little ones being such amazing eaters.  Do you have some suggestions that have worked for you?  I'd love to hear about them in the comments section below!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Quick and Easy Turtle Recipe!

Every year before Christmas, I make a TON of candy, cookies, and fudge to give as gifts.  I am always looking for new recipes to try, but I always make sure they have one thing in common-they have to be easy!  This year I came across this recipe for pretzel turtles, and the fact that it only had 3 ingredients practically screamed easy, so I decided to make it.  After reading several reviews from others who had made it, I came up with a few changes, and I have to say it was a total success!  Read on if you want to see how I did it :).

First, I preheated the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, and then gathered the following ingredients:

1 bag of Butter Snaps pretzels
1 bag of Dove Caramel Milk Chocolate candies
1 bag of pecan halves


I then spread out the pretzels onto a baking sheet and topped each with 1 caramel candy.

(P.s.  My cookie sheets are old, not dirty-don't judge!)

I decided to do a test run first to determine exactly how much time in the oven the turtles would need.  The original recipe called for 4 minutes, and one of the reviews I read said they decreased the time to 3 minutes.  Here is what I came out with after 3 minutes:


After placing a pecan half on top, carmel oozed out the sides...not the look I was going for.  I realized 3 minutes was too long in our oven (affectionately known as the Scorch-O-Matic around these parts), so I cut the time down to 2 minutes for the next batch.


As you can see, there is less ooze-age, but I decided to cut the time down even further.  The last batch was  in the oven for only 1 minute, and here is how it looked after it was baked and topped:


No oozing caramel!  I suppose if you aren't really OCD like me and oozing caramel doesn't bother you, then you don't have to do a test run; you could just pop them all in at once, top them all with a pecan half when they get out of the oven, and then let them set up for a while (happens much faster in the fridge if you don't want to wait to gobble them up!) before eating or packaging.  I just like the look of the candies better when they aren't leaking caramel out the sides, so the test run trials worked for me :).

Do you have any easy/quick recipes for holiday treats that you would like to share?  If so, I would love to hear about them!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Cloth diapering 101: Why we chose to use cloth

I can remember when I found out that my mom was cloth diapering my brother how disgusted  I was, thinking "Why would anyone want to do THAT???  That must be SO gross!" (Sorry, Mom!  I still love you!).  Now that I am using cloth diapers (CDs) on our kiddos, this is the most common reaction I hear from anyone who finds out that we use CDs.  Why would anyone want to make the switch from disposables, which are so convenient?  All you have to do with disposables is fold them up, throw away the mess, and forget about it, right?  WRONG!

Did you know that it takes an estimated 200-500 years1 for ONE disposable diaper to decompose once it has entered a landfill?  That means that all the disposable diapers I used on my child this year would still be in a landfill long after myself, my child, my grandchildren, my great grandchildren, my great-great grandchildren, and possibly even more of my future descendants lived and died!  One of the main reasons we switched to cloth is because we cannot stand the fact that trash we are throwing away now will impact future generations for hundreds of years.  And if the fact that those diapers will just be sitting there for all those years isn’t disturbing enough, then you probably don’t even want to think about the chemicals that are found in disposables leaching into the soil and water found near landfills. 

Disposables contain numerous toxic chemicals that are not only bad for the environment, but are extremely hazardous to the health of the infants wearing them.  One of the most frightening chemicals, in my opinion, found in disposables is called dioxin, which is a carcinogen listed by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) as THE MOST toxic of all cancer causing materials, and is actually banned in most other countries2.  Other toxic chemicals such as sodium polyacrylate3 and Tributyl-tin (TBT)4 have been known to cause issues such as hormonal problems, increased scrotal temperatures in male infants (which can ultimately cause infertility), rash, increased growth of toxin-producing bacteria, and that is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the health problems disposables can cause!  One of the articles even mentioned that TBT was shown to kill marine life such as algae and mussels when administered in very small quantities, and for that reason it is included in paint designed for ships to stop the growth of algae and mussels on their hulls.  And you want me to put that on my children???  I don’t think so!

One of the final factors that led to our decision to switch to CDs was cost.  We were using up about a box and a half of disposables a week (our first was a pee monster :D ), which was running about $30.00 per week (1 box of Pampers = $19.98.  $19.98 x 1.5 boxes per week = $29.97).  That meant that had we continued to use disposables, over the course of just the first year alone, we would have spent about $1558.48 just on diapers!  When you figure that an entire stash of amazing, high-quality cloth diapers (more on diaper types and costs, as well as how to determine the number of diapers you will need in the next posts in this series) would cost a little more than 1/4 of that (I am figuring this percentage based on purchasing name-brand, unused diapers, the cost saving can be even greater if you buy used and/or make your own…more on that later!), AND they can be reused for all of your children, then it absolutely makes no sense to continue literally throwing money in the trash! 

As you can tell, I am quite passionate about cloth diapers.  It is my hope that if you are considering cloth diapers, and even if you haven’t ever considered them, that you can use this blog as a source of information to help you in making the switch to cloth.  As I stated above, I will be doing at least 2 more posts in this Cloth Diapering 101 series-Types, Costs, and How many to buy, as well as Care and Maintenance.  Please let me know any questions you have by commenting below, or by e-mailing me at wifemamateacher@gmail.com.  Take care!

1--Real Diaper association-Diaper Facts

2 Allsopp, Michelle.  Achieving Zero Dioxin: An emergency strategy for dioxin elimination.  September 1994.  Greenpeace.  http://archive.greenpeace.org/toxics/reports/azd/azd.html

3 Armstrong, Liz and Adrienne Scott   Whitewash: Exposing the Health and Environmental Dangers of Women's Sanitary Products and Disposable Diapers, What You Can Do About It. 1993. HarperCollins.

4 Greenpeace.  New Tests Confirm TBT Poison in Procter & Gamble's Pampers: Greenpeace Demands World-Wide Ban of Organotins in All Products. 15 May 2000.
http://archive.greenpeace.org/pressreleases/toxics/2000may152.html

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A parent's life is a child's guidebook

I am pretty lucky (I think) to drive by 2 churches every morning and every afternoon with the signs out front that always have a message on them.  Some of them are funny, some of them are deep, and some of them (okay, most of them) can get me feeling pretty convicted. 

About 2 weeks ago, as I was just finishing up my morning prayer on the way to work, I looked to the sign of the second church I pass every day, and it had a new saying on it that read "A parent's life is a child's guidebook".  When I saw that sign, I felt like God was sitting right next to me in my car saying "Now is the time.  You need to stop making excuses, and be the mother that I know you are destined to be".  Pretty scary!  You see, each and every day on my way to work, I pray that God will change my heart, and give me the patience and the dedication to be a better wife and mother.  However, it seems like every day I fail at both of these things.  I make excuses for my behavior (I'm tired, I'm stressed, I'm overwhelmed...sound familiar?), and before I know it, it seems like another day of failure in my life as a wife and a mom has come and gone. 

Anywho, the saying on that sign got me thinking, "What exactly IS my attitude and behavior teaching my children?"  Are they learning to put God above all else?  Are they learning that when they  needs answers, that they should seek His guidance and wisdom first?  Are they learning that they are BEAUTIFUL and perfect, just the way that God created them?  Are they learning that spending time with family WITHOUT t.v., Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter is the only way that we will have time to make each other feel important, loved, and worth taking the time to bond with?  Are they learning to be slow to anger and quick to love?  Are they learning to be humble, putting Jesus first, others second, and themselves last?  Probably not.  How can I expect them to learn these things if they are not in their guidebook for life-my life? 

I know that I will never be perfect, but I do have the power, through Christ, to change my behavior, so that my children will see my life as a guidebook full of love and service for Christ and others, a guidebook that shows that putting family first is more important that any job, t.v show, or website ever could be, and a guidebook that shows that even though we will make mistakes and fail from time to time, that seeking God's wisdom and guidance can make us feel whole again. 

What is your life teaching your child?

Charlotte Mason Binder Cover

As promised, here is the link to the Charlotte Mason Teacher Binder Cover I shared on my Instagram .  May it be a daily reminder to...