Showing posts with label Kids. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kids. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Uncle Ronnie's chicken bog {& a list of freezable meals!}

I sat down here to write an update on the Ranger household. But rather than jot those deets, I veered off the path to share another recipe for comforting chicken stew (that makes two in a row).

Because sometimes your pal Jenny--a wonderful friend and beautiful person inside and out--asks you for easy, freezable meal ideas in anticipation of her first bundle of joy, and you must answer the call. Once a boat mate, always a boat mate. So I hope you'll forgive me for sharing this recipe instead of an update today, and I believe you will once you've learned how easy and delicious it is.

Only picture of me (2nd from left) and Jenny that I can find right now. She's the badass on the right.


My uncle that I was telling you about the other day--Uncle Ronnie of the sorghum syrup--is a wealth of information about recipes from the old south. He usually gets the tips from his Dad, who is an even greater wealth of information on the topic. So you can see, I've tapped into a great wellspring of recipes for you folks.

My latest discovery via Uncle Ronnie is chicken bog, a stew from the eastern Carolinas. Perhaps it would sound more tasty if I called it chicken and rice stew, but I prefer to let the title lie as is in all its odd, humble glory. Although the name is quirky and less than delicious-sounding, chicken bog is neither of those things.

A recipe as simple as this one deserves to be left without the decoration of superfluous adjectives, so I'll just tell you it is GOOD. And if you're a soon-to-be mom, you should also know that it is easy and definitely freezable. All you need is time, but if you're anything like I was during the nesting phase, you're spending lots of time rewashing the layette anyhow and can spare a few minutes for waiting and stirring.

Uncle Ronnie's dad dictated few instructions. Mainly he said to cover the chicken with water, simmer until it is falling apart, strain the stock into a container, top the chicken with 2 c. white Carolina rice, pour in 2-3 c. of the saved liquid, and simmer 15 more minutes. You can certainly do it as simply as that, but I added a few fussier ingredients thanks to this recipe by Vivian Howard of A Chef's Life.


Uncle Ronnie's chicken bog
serves 8

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken, skin-on and cut into parts
1 onion, quartered
bay leaf
fresh thyme
salt & pepper
2 c. white rice (I can get Carolina brand at the regular grocery)
butter

Directions:

  1. Place chicken pieces in a Dutch oven. Cover with water and throw in the onion, bay leaf, a few sprigs of thyme, and 1 Tbs. salt and a few teaspoons of fresh cracked pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer the chicken over low heat for about an hour and a half or until chicken is falling apart. You will have rendered the fat off the skin, and even the breast meat should come right apart if poked with a fork.
  2. Turn the heat off and let it sit covered in its liquid for 30 minutes. Remove the chicken pieces to a cutting board to cool. Strain the stock into a container. Shred the chicken, leaving some big pieces of breast meat, and discard the skin bones. [Note: If you are freezing the recipe, stop here. Put the shredded chicken into the stock, label it with the name and date, and put it in the chest freezer. When you're ready to use it, defrost it overnight in the refrigerator, and move on to step #3.]
  3. Return chicken to the Dutch oven. Top with 2 c. white rice if you're serving 8 people (if you're serving 4, save half for later in the week at step #2, then cook fresh rice at that time). Don't rinse your rice before putting it in, since the extra starch is helpful for thickening. Follow rice directions for how much liquid to add (usually 2:1 ratio of liquid to rice). Simmer for approximately 15 minutes until rice is tender. Careful not to simmer too long, for though you want the chicken soft, you want the rice to maintain a bite. Drop in a pat of butter and maybe some lemon juice or parsley if you like it fussy. Just do me a favor and don't tell Uncle Ronnie's dad.

For Jenny & the other moms-to-be out there, here's a list of freezable recipes from the blog:

My one and only piece of advice when it comes to post-baby food is this: invest in a chest freezer! I promise you won't regret the investment even if you don't cook that often. Last I checked, they sell a reasonably large model for around $100 at Home Depot.

Good luck, Jenny! And snuggle that baby. They grow all too fast.
xoxo,
~J

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

{NPN carnival}: don't fear the tears

Welcome to the February 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Fears
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and wisdom about parenting fears.
***

Before I became a mother, there wasn't much I feared. Who needs fear when I knew everything already? For instance, I knew that by being calm, my baby would be calm. I knew that because I have always slept like a rock, I'd of course have a baby who slept well.

But I didn't. Instead of sleeping, my baby preferred to cry for three months straight from two months old to five months old. When people used to cite the incident where Michael Jackson held his baby upside down as evidence of his eccentricity, I would dryly reply they must not have ever had a "colicky" child. Like Chris Rock once said, I'm not saying he shoulda done it, but I understand.

If my experience taught me one valuable lesson, it's that you can't always control whether your child cries. 

You can cut out dairy, breastfeed on demand, co-sleep, burp the baby only while perching her at a 90 degree angle, swaddle her, un-swaddle her, use an amber pacifier, hand-knit diapers made from wool spun by Tibetan monks, add a humidifier and a noisemaker, and wash all your linens in vinegar or your own tears. You can do all that, and you might still end up with a baby who cries at all hours of the day and night.

Here's what I learned: it's okay to let them cry. 

I'm not here to judge any parenting style. I'm simply suggesting you can let your baby cry at times without applying a title to what you're doing. There's a fantastic article on Natural Parents Network that suggests allowing crying is not necessarily the same thing as the dreaded moniker "cry it out" (CIO).

You can't always prevent your toddler, preschooler, or kindergartner from crying either. You won't always understand why they are crying or be able to comfort them. That's certainly been true for my second daughter, who went from being one of the most content, sleepy babies I've ever seen to a three-year-old who cries at the drop of a hat. Literally, her hat could fall off her head, and she'd cry.



Speaking about parenting styles, there's a style referred to as RIE, Resources for Infant Educarers, that has been highlighted recently in a Vanity Fair article. [Update (2/11/14, 5pm): I added a link to the Vanity Fair article that was missing. When I first read it, I felt like the author sensationalized RIE, making it seem like a fad and conflating different notions about what RIE is and isn't. But you should be able to make up your own mind.] It will likely mean RIE will be in the limelight for a while, and some RIE principles apply to this discussion.

The foundations of RIE are built upon awareness and respect. You could say it's the opposite of helicopter parenting. Instead of making snap assumptions, interfering, and rescuing, RIE followers let their sensitive observations guide their actions and listen closely before responding. What would you call that, drone parenting? Okay, so maybe I'm not all that good at describing RIE either. But lucky for you, Janet Lansbury is; her RIE parenting basics (nine ways to put respect into action) is particularly useful.

I haven't always handled my children crying well; sometimes I interfere and attempt to rescue them or even try to silence them. And hey, I'm not judging you if you've done that too! But what works better is if I treat my child the same way I'd treat a doula client if she cried during labor, with patience and respect. I'd let her struggles happen because they bring her strength.

The important distinction here is the same as one I teach parents in a childbirth education class: There is a difference between pain and suffering. To prevent suffering, we must not numb or avoid pain but be mindful of its motivation. Just as there is physical pain in labor that serves a purpose, there is emotional pain in childhood that serves a purpose. Painful emotions can be self-correcting and self-healing. Trying to quell the expression of the pain won't make it go away, and indeed it could serve to stifle their ability to self-regulate their emotions. Part of childhood is learning to express and control emotions without our interference.

[A note for new moms: If you're anything like me, on days your baby cries you might end up crying too. Take heart. Feelings of loneliness and isolation are normal! You can relieve them gradually by seeking interaction with other new moms in a support group, yoga studio, or free library music class. Friendship is just around the corner.]


***
Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama
Visit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting! Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants (list will be final around 5pm PST February 11):
  • When Parents' Fears Escalate — If we didn't self-doubt, we probably wouldn't care enough about our children to struggle with understanding them. But how do we overcome self-doubt? Read advice from Laurie Hollman, Ph.D., guest posting today at Natural Parents Network.
  • What ifs of addiction — After seeing how addictions of adult children is badly hurting a family close to her heart, Hannah at HannahandHorn shares her fears for her own child.
  • Sharing My Joy — Kellie at Our Mindful Life shares her fear that others think she is judgmental because she makes alternative choices for her own family.
  • Building My Tribe Fearlessly — A meteorite hit Jaye Anne at Tribal Mama's family when she was seven years old. Read the story, how she feels about that now, and how she is building her tribe fearlessly.
  • Fear: Realized — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen shares how her fear of car accidents was realized and how she hopes to be able to use her efforts to overcome the remaining fears to help her children overcome their own.
  • I'm a Negligent Helicopter Parent — For Issa Waters at LoveLiveGrow, the line between helicopter parenting and negligent parenting is not so cut and dried.
  • My Greatest Fear For My Child — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama admits that she has struggled with not allowing her fears to control her and how the reality of this was blown wide open when she became a mother.
  • Proactive Steps to Calm Parenting Fears — Every parent has certain fears related to dangerous situations, That Mama Gretchen shares ways she is preparing herself and her children for emergencies.
  • Homeschooling Fears – Will My Children Regret Being Homeschooled? — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares an interview with her now-adult children that answers a question she had throughout their homeschooling.
  • An Uneasy Truce — Homeschooler and recent convert to unschooling, Tam at tinsenpup shares just a few of the things she tries to keep in mind when fear and insecurity begin to take hold.
  • Fearing the worst, expecting the best — Tarana at Sand In My Toes writes about fears that come with parenting, and why we must overcome them.
  • Can I be the parent I want to be? — Amanda at Postilius confronts her struggle to peacefully parent a preschooler
  • Out of Mind, Out of Fear — How does Jorje of Momma Jorje deal with her pretty steep, long-term fears regarding her son's future?
  • I Don't Homeschool to Manage My Kids' Transcripts — One of Dionna at Code Name: Mama's fears of parenting is that she will get so caught up in the monotony, the details of homeschooling, the minutiae of everyday life, the routine of taking care of a household - that she will forget to actually be present in the moment with her children.
  • Beware! Single Mom Camping — Erica at ChildOrganics shares her first adventures as a single mom. She laughed, she cried, she faced her fears.
  • Parenting Fears And Reality Checks — Luschka from Diary of a First Child shares her three biggest fears as a parent - that most parents share - looks at the reality behind these fears, and offers a few suggestions for enjoying parenting.
  • Parenting fear : to kill a pink rabbit...Mother Goutte tells us the story of a pink rabbit that disappeared, came back, and became the symbol of her worst parenting fear...
  • Roamingsustainablemum considers whether allowing your children freedom to explore the world safely is harder now than in the past.
  • Meeting my parenting fears head-on — Lauren at Hobo Mama had many fears before she became a parent. Learn how they all came true — and weren't anywhere near as scary as she'd thought.
  • Don't fear the tears — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger worried that letting her children cry when going to sleep was tantamount to the dreaded parenting moniker, CIO. She discusses what actually happened after those teary nights, and how she hopes these lessons can carry forward to future parenting opportunities.
  • Will I Still be a Good Mom? — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot worries about her mothering skills now that breastfeeding is no longer the top priority.
  • Pregnancy Fears: It Happened to My Sisters, It Will Happen to Me... — Kristen at Baby Giveaways Galore discusses the difficulties with pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding that the women in her family have had and how she overcame them.
  • Fears — Meegs at A New Day talks about how her fears before parenting led to a better understanding of herself and her desires for her daughter.

Monday, November 11, 2013

{45}: notes from The Mikado


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013."
We took our friends' 3 kids for a day this weekend. Wild!

On the Range
November 5 - 11, 2013

{On the Range} is my weekly series where I discuss what we're doing, reading, and eating. It's a little bit 52 project and other photo projects, and a little bit {Did you Read?} and {In the Ranger Kitchen}.

Monday, October 28, 2013

kids cook Monday: beanie weenies


I have no idea when or where I came across the handy, unpretentious 1994 Washington Cookbook, Volume 2, but I'm glad I did. Who could keep from smiling at such entries as "John McCain's Baked Beans"?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

treats, not tricks for a healthier Halloween


When it comes to Halloween, I usually go all out and let the kids loose with few rules about their activities, decorations, and the inevitable amassed pile of junk food and just plain junk.

Having said that, it was easier to ignore the junk when the kids were too young to know the difference; we'd just hide or throw away every piece of cheap crap/candy but a small handful of raisin boxes and pretzels. Now that we have a kindergartner who knows what's up, it would appear I have to be a little more conscious of the candy part of Halloween.

After chatting with mom friends and researching the issue a bit, I am happy to report that there are ways we can insert real food in the mix, and I'm sharing a few ideas on the blog today.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

it's beginning to feel {not at all} like Christmas

I know it's insanely early to discuss such things, so if you are a person who is easily offended by the slightest whiff of Christmas talk prior to Black Friday, this is not the post for you.

But if, on the other hand, you are a planner like me who is petrified that her girls will get more pink plastic crap instead of games and toys that challenge their minds, then step on down! You are the next contestant on...

The Price is Wrong...But We're Buying It Anyway Because of Guilt and Competitive Parenting

Tell them what they've won, Bob!

A Brand New Scooter!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

golden girl

I know that as parents, we all love our children to pieces. I'm not talking about just the two of us in our parenting unit but all parents collectively. We think our children hung the moon and are the most special, bright beings ever created. Each of our children is the absolute best, and we are unwilling or unable to hear otherwise. My mind tells me that my bias blinds me against our children's faults and weaknesses, yet still in my heart I know that my children ARE the best.

Genevieve had her well child visit, and the doc gushed over her as usual. She said something to the effect of "You are my absolute favorite kids today, and I'm so glad you came to see me!" which could have been just fluff but who cares? Loving her bedside manner. I ate it up as much as my kids did, since I still have my fervent desire to please all who can be considered teachers in this life. And our pediatrician is most certainly my #1 teacher at the present time. It was she, you might remember, who told us that we should ignore rather than acknowledge our kids' protests when they don't want the meal we are serving. Pure genius, that woman.

Meanwhile, Vivi strutted her stuff during her appointment, as per her usual diva standards. She walked back and forth on command and answered all questions enthusiastically. Her favorite fruit is mango, and her favorite veggie is edamame (at least it's green). After the visit, I treated the girls to ice cream and then a bus ride home, which sounds like no fun to you or me but is high on their list of amazing feats.

Hey y'all. I'm on instagram now! You can see this photo there too...and follow me.

Nate and I were conversing last night about her appointment, and I started in again about not being sure I am enjoying her enough. Rather than griping about it, I am more resigned to the situation as it is and have moved on to explaining the possible reasons I'm feeling this way. Looking at Vivi's preschool photo, I am caught imagining what her senior picture will look like. Then I think about how it's not so many years from now, and then I have to sit on my hands to prevent launching myself upstairs to wake her up and give her a hug.

So why don't I just sit around hugging her all day? The truth is that while the two-dimensional girl in the photo is easy to put on a pedestal and adore, the walking/talking version of the girl is a whirling dervish who hardly sits still all day. She is a chatterbox with the ideas and energy of three children together. I find that the best way to enjoy her is to set her loose and watch the Tasmanian devil in action. Any attempt to pin her down winds up frustrating all of us.

Actually, if I had to pick one concern I have for her next year, it's that I think kindergarten is probably the time when she will be asked to sit still and complete tasks more, and I know she will clash with her teacher over this requirement. At the kindergarten parents' night, the teachers suggested we start giving her responsibility to complete tasks on her own. While I am happy to oblige, my tasks are certain to be less challenging to her since I don't accompany them with a room full of peers for her to befriend. Her pre-k teachers have told me that when Vivi is chatting with friends, there is little they can do to encourage her to stay on task. She is super duper excited about kindergarten beginning in the fall, and I know she'll do great. I guess what I'm saying is that I hope they don't change her too much. I enjoy her unbridled innocent joie de vivre!

She is still a music-lover, and her current favorite is the Icona Pop song, "I Love It (I Don't Care)." Nate and I wince when she gets to the lyrics "You're so damn hard to please, we gotta kill this switch. You're from the 70's, but I'm a 90's bitch." I've mostly decided to let it happen, figuring if she says these words in her normal conversations, I will address it then. It's not like she has any clue of what the singer means, so it seems harmless enough. Right? RIGHT?

Just a few more days until SUMMER OFFICIALLY BEGINS!!!!1!
xoxo
~J

Sunday, May 12, 2013

raise the roof!

Phew! We had an action-packed Mother's Day. Nate offered to let me sleep in this morning, but the birds had another idea and decided to alert me to the presence of daylight at 6:30. So, whatever, early starts can be fun too. Nate and I went for a run sans kiddos, which we do only a few times a year now. The weather was sprinkling and high 60's, my perfect running conditions.

We went to lunch at our favorite flatbread pizza place, which was a blast. Who needs brunch when you have pizza and beer? In the afternoon, the guys assembled the playhouse while I presided over the event and offered color commentary. Nate also fixed a bunch of our old crystal door handles so that most of the doors in our house now open and shut. This might not seem like a romantic Mother's Day gesture, but it really was the best gift I could have asked for. I stood at the coat closet for a few minutes today, just smiling and opening and shutting the door.

So far the playhouse is a huge hit! The girls love to play house. Big thanks go to Grandma Bonnie and Grandpa Dave for the great present! We left Grandpa with the kids playing in the house and took a nice long walk. More grown-up conversations, y'all! Hope you and yours had a great Mother's Day.

Love and hugs,
~J

Vivi's toothless expression is its own brand of comedy. Love it.



Thursday, May 02, 2013

{five}


Genevieve turned five years old this week. For some reason, five seems like a huge milestone. Perhaps it's because I remember turning five myself...or rather, I remember the dreaded booster shot in the hiney. These kids today have no clue how fortunate they are that they can forgo this exercise in humiliation. But as I was saying, five is a huge birthday, and I'm hanging on for what is sure to be a wild ride of a year.

I'll write more soon about the birthday party, but for today here is my yearly letter to sweet Vivi.


Dear Genevieve,

Over the past year, I've seen your four-year-old personality continue to develop, and much of what I said last year applies to you this year as well. It's an extraordinary journey to be invited to witness the cultivation of your marvelous self. Mostly, I feel like you are molding me instead of the other way around. A new friend exclaimed, "Vivi's face lights up at EVERYTHING. How wonderful!," and I couldn't agree more. Here are some of my favorite of your qualities:

:: keen eye for detail :: You have a precise and discerning regard, and you can often be heard from the backseat reminding me, "Mommy, it's faster to go the other way to the library, remember?" What would I do without your help in getting where I want to go in life? Your keen eye extends to the fashion world too, and your nose crinkles when I attempt in my own fumbling manner to broaden your clothing horizons outside your limiting criteria of 1) pink, or 2) leggings (see also: ruffles). To your credit, this spring you are stepping out in frocks of blue and green (praiseallujah).

:: leadership potential :: What others might call bossiness, I see as the leader in you exploding forth. You direct the operations of many a household task or sisterly game, and I wouldn't choose any other executor as my partner (with the one exception of your daddy). I hope you seek an opportunity to lead a team as an adult, for you will make a heck of a chief. May your brave quest to lead both men and women happen without or in spite of the limitations that both genders seek to put on women who lead my generation.

:: sharp wit :: You've become a lover of Shel Silverstein already, and you laugh heartily throughout his poems. I'm thrilled to share a sense of humor with you. Your expansive vocabulary grows ever greater, and your hunt for information is nearly unparalleled in my experience (your schoolmate Jacob vies for first place in this area, asking his grandmother today, "How was Europe formed?").

:: tender heart :: When I asked you if you wanted to make your grandpa a birthday card, you said "Yes! But I'm going to need a really big card because there are going to be lots of hearts." I hope you will maintain your loving nature and with it, your ability to bring even the shiest of friends into the fold with your patient and kind ways. You are a genuine people lover, and I feel lucky to be loved by you.

:: endeavorous spirit :: Endeavorous is not a word, although I'd like to make it a new one for you because I feel it sums you up so well. You are willing and even excited to try new things, whether they be activities, sports, or food. You encourage our whole family to experiment with your love of life. Thank you for being a stupendous individual.

Love,
Mommy

Teaching Charlie to play baseball. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

on not becoming The Goops

Alternate title: But I still refuse to eat snails.

Have you read French Kids Eat Everything yet? I'm not finished with it, but it's already a game-changer for us. A lovestruck Nate turned to me at dinner last night and wistfully said, a hint of a glistening tear in his eye, "This is just how I wanted dinner to be." Okay, I'm kidding about that. That kind of husbandly praise is the stuff of dreams...

With how much I talk (read: gloat) about feeding my kids real food, it might surprise you I have a lot to learn about teaching kids to eat well. Yes, I usually manage to get my kids to eat healthy food, BUT I have come to dread meal time due to their whininess, messiness, disregard for normal decibel levels and decent personal space, and sibling rivalry that accompany every meal. I was becoming a cross between a hair-raising psycho and a punch-drunk lunatic at dinner, getting into immature discussions with my kids about who was going to get the purple plate and which child would be allowed to sing the third verse of the rainbow song.

Then, the clouds parted, and this book fell into my lap. Or something like that.

But, seriously y'all, I was skeptical at first about whether the tricks in this book would work for us. I have employed some aspects of attachment parenting, and one of them that I associate with the trend is to offer children choices and let them articulate their preferences and control aspects of their food world. If I had to pick one thing I've learned in the last week, it's that the science does not agree; in fact, it suggests children aren't capable of deciding what they should eat, and these decisions actually stress them out.

But the proof is in the pudding: how did the experiment work for us? I am dumbfounded by the fact that not only did these fancy tricks work, but they have made ME enjoy food more. Who could have thought that was possible?

Here's a nutshell about why I give this book two enthusiastic thumbs up, with a few caveats (so maybe, one enthusiastic thumb and another regular thumb):

Caveat first: I don't have as many ingrained issues with food as the writer apparently does [Example: she is a self-professed lover of McDonald's. Gag me with a spoon.], so I had trouble identifying with her tendency to whine about her great luck. She seemed to have begrudgingly taken on the challenge to feed her kids French food--WHILE LIVING IN FRANCE AND MARRIED TO A FRENCHMAN--whereas I look at these opportunities to mold and change my kids as fun experiments. To me, a person who doesn't thank her lucky stars that she can benefit from the wisdom of the best foodies in the world has a bit of a chip on her shoulder. But then again, I try never to judge a woman for a reaction to her mother-in-law's advice.

Having said that, I learned loads from this book. I've only been to France once and then only to Paris, but even after a few days there, I learned easily that the French have figured out how to make good food. They enjoy food so much and so well. What I didn't know was that they have many rules about what, when, and how to eat. Being someone who likes to cook and eat--and someone who is sometimes painfully attempting to teach my kids good manners--I appreciate a culture that is willing to take time in crafting good, well-mannered eaters.

I also didn't realize how many bad American eating habits I have--and even worse--that I'm passing down to my kids.  I had become resigned to my fate, forgetting--or perhaps never knowing to begin with--that I have role in their meal-time education (Rule #1). Could it be as simple as they were misbehaving because they weren't aware that there were meal-time rules?


French Food Rules

Food Rules
Illustration by: Sarah Jane Wright for French Kids Eat Everything

Here are few of the rules she discusses in the book that I am most taken with (in my own words):


Up the formality! 

The French lay a tablecloth (!!), even for small children; they forgo paper napkins and sippy cups, opting instead for glasses, cloth napkins, and real silverware; and they announce the beginning of the meal with a quick phrase, "To the table!" When everyone is seated, they say "Bon appetit!" to signify that everyone may begin eating. My kids love rituals so took to these improvements like buttah. Vivi sets the table with a purpose, as though she has been lying in wait for the chance to be given this task. We've always said a blessing, which is now like icing on the cake instead of the only ritual.

Documentation of our first foray into tableclothing. It's a Kenyan wrap skirt. Cute, huh?


Respect each other...and the food! 


Imagine a meal with small children in which you don't have to endure loud interruptions and whining. Wonderful, right? How is this magic accomplished??

Actually, it isn't that hard. Once I got started, I figured out quickly that the rules I was implementing were exactly what they were already doing at school. Duh. If they say "But I wanted the purple plate!," I say "You get what you get, and you don't get upset." If they say "I don't want tabbouleh!," then I say "You don't have to like it, you just have to taste it." And after both of those phrases, they pipe in with "That's what my teachers say!" Oh, right.

I can't believe I didn't use these rules sooner. I always imagined that if I stopped them from jumping around and yelling, I would somehow be stifling their joy. But while I previously would have used my "Let kids be kids!" go-to parenting rule, I now realize that what I was doing was robbing everyone, including myself, of a chance to eat a peaceful meal. By stopping the chaos, I offer respect to my dinner guests and myself--and to the food we are eating, for that matter.

Plus, I've added an element of fun by asking them a few questions about their day, like their favorite thing, something they didn't like, a funny part of the day, and a time they helped someone. Both of the girls relish this time to shine with everyone listening. And I relish the opportunity to start new Mom catchphrases.


No food bribes or rewards (Rule #2). 

This rule is actually harder for me than I had thought. In my opinion, this rule exempts the once-a-year bribe of "If you do well at the doctor, you can have a lollipop!" But it also means that you can't stuff your kid's face with animal crackers every time you're in line at the bank. You can't jump into the car knowing you're going to get stuck in traffic and bribe your kids with fruit snacks and chips to make it the duration. You can't swoop in after your kid falls down or doesn't get the purple plate and say "If you eat your peas, you will get a popsicle!" What I failed to realize is that I was teaching my kids to fill their voids with food, and by doing that, I was making their relationship with food emotional. Yikes.


No snacking (Rule #7). 

This rule is tied with the rule above. "It's okay for them to be hungry" has become my new internal mantra. Once I attempted to stop our constant snacking, it occurred to me I had been teaching Charlotte to be a snack monster (see: toddler terrorist post). Her hunger monster still rears its head on occasion; however, just as I wouldn't back down when I tell her it's time to brush her teeth, I feel confident that keeping her from simple carbs and sugary juice is going to pay off in the end when she learns to reward her patience with satiety instead of stifling it with empty calories.


Eat family meals together (Rule #4).

I always wanted to enact this rule, and I had done it sometimes, but I admit there were many occasions that I would spend their meal doing dishes or reading blogs in the kitchen instead of sitting with them. Now I look upon meal time as an important part of their education and sit at the table with them, even if I on rare occasion am not eating a meal myself (and I try to make sure I am eating with them). When they are finished with the meal, I let them have time to blow off steam and be silly (read: not at the dining room table), and I take that time to do my quiet recharging or cleaning.


I've been reciting a poem to the girls called "The Goops" that my parents recited to me as a child, and it has taken on a new meaning lately. Turns out that "The Goops" is actually a series of books written in the early 1900's to teach children manners, so it's no wonder it stands out now.

The Goops 
by Gelett Burgess (1900)

The Goops they lick their fingers,
The Goops they lick their knives,
They spill their broth on the tablecloth-
Oh, they lead disgusting lives!

The Goops they talk while eating,
And loud and fast they chew,
And that is why that I 
Am glad I'm not a Goop--are you?


the goops
Image credit: Gutenburg.org
Author's Note: I shared this post with Tasty TraditionsWorks for Me Wednesday, and Whole Foods Wednesday.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

the girls in my world

Charlie has gotten to the age where she sings the alphabet "T...U...Vivi." Vivi went through that phase too, and it is just about the sweetest sound to my ears. I will surely miss that stage when it's gone for good. She adores her big sister, saying "Hey Vivi, how 'bout we play dis game?!" excitedly when Vivi gets home from school. She has been waiting, you see, for her #1 favorite playmate--I make an okay secondary partner, I suppose.

Candy Land has made its way to the top of the chart on game night, and I only grit my teeth a little bit because at least it's fast. Plus, the way they squeal when they turn up a candy picture card, that's worth a bit of nonsense. Luckily we haven't had to endure Shoots and Ladders yet, but I'm also betting age 5 is a big year for board games. Do y'all have board games you like (or more likely, tolerate)? Vivi seems alarmingly good at checkers for her age, and I am past pretending I'm letting her win and on to bringing my A game.

...What this makes you think of me, I can only imagine...

Vivi asks all manner of interesting questions lately. Like, this morning she felt her head and asked if there were multiple bones in her skull. We had discussed that her brain was protected by her skull bone, but I hadn't specified how the skull was formed (why would I, right?). She felt around and noticed that it seemed like there was more than one bone. What were the bones called, she wondered. Nate and I are normally convinced the other one put such notions in her head, only to find out later after drilling each other that she comes up with them on her own. Smartypants! Do your young'ns do this?

She also routinely drills me on the variety of names for her teeth, wanting to be sure she gets the specific tooth right when she informs me that "an incisor is loose." My little scientist. Of course, then in the same blink of a moment, she will wipe a booger on the window or put her shoe on the wrong foot, and I am ushered back into the reality of her four-year-old self. But man, those glimpses of what she will be some day. They are powerful, you know?

After the last picture I posted and then when you see this next photo, you might think all I do is let the kids watch TV. I swear, there is only a tiny part of me that wants to correct this possible line of thought. Do please let the record show that Charlie hand-picked her own stripy outfit (right down to the tights).

What's happening on your end? Any good weekend plans?
Smooches,
~J



Wednesday, January 30, 2013

this just in: adorable child sings adorable song, gives interview

Charlie is at that age where she'll answer questions and sing songs on demand. Thus, I spend most of my time asking questions and requesting songs. See for yourself...

Dancing!

video


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

rebuilding your gut & immune system after antibiotics

IMPORTANT: Please do not put your children on Miralax to prevent or treat constipation. PEG (Polyethylene Glycol), the active ingredient in it, has been reported by FDA to cause neuropsychiatric episodes. Read this article for more information.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor or nutrition expert, so please use your own judgment when making decisions about your health.

When the girls were prescribed antibiotics last month for complications from upper respiratory infections (Charlie also had conjunctivitis. They were a mess!), our pediatrician was surprised at the lack of antibiotics (or medical chart at all) in their history. To be honest, at the time I was disappointed they needed antibiotics; note this article in the journal Pediatrics that discusses over-prescription of antibiotics for upper respiratory infections. I was hoping it would be asthmatic bronchitis (viral) that we could treat with rest, NSAIDs, and/or steroid inhalers.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

ten {mostly healthy} snack ideas for kids

animal crackers


Forgive me for the prosaic title? I'm sure I could have come up with one better, but my head is still a bit fuzzy from a virus. Okay then, on with it...

It's a well known parenting law that kids want to eat snacks more than meals. I could never lure my kids into the house from the sandbox by saying "Kids, LUNCH TIME!," but if I offer them a snack, they're in before I finish the sentence. Is it the fact that I serve more salty and sweet goodies during snack? Whatever the reason, I'm inclined to make snack time as nutrition-packed as possible. Because I'm not above sneaking healthy foods into my kids' diet.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

on street children and how we CAN help

God bless them for still being able to smile. I wish I could hug them now, those men
they have become, and tell them how proud I am that they made it to the other side.
I can only pray they did make it. (circa 2002)

Today I'm sharing a topic near to my heart. There are orphaned children all over the world, so you could say this post centers upon the plight of all parentless children. I'm focusing particularly on African countries and the organizations that assist their children because I feel a special connection to them. It all began when I was in my early twenties and traveled to Kenya twice; the trips changed the direction of my life and my career goals. Stick with my lengthy introduction, as I will eventually arrive at the point.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

it's fall {again}, y'all

In case you are the last to hear this little fun fact, autumn is the best season in New England. The best, Jerry! The weather is unstoppably beautiful nearly every day, enough so that you don't even feel guilty wasting a few hours of mid-60's and blue sky so you can sort boxes in the basement. You know, in case you've got a move coming up in a few weeks and still have beach toys scattered about your yard. So...

Monday, September 17, 2012

first week of pre-k done!

prek3
Yup, this was as good as it got that day. Some days aren't picture days.

Genevieve LOVES pre-k. I knew she would, we all did, but she enjoys herself even more than I could have imagined. The girl likes to keep on a schedule. Me thinks my little type-A go-getter was getting more than slightly antsy staying home with my "I dunno, what do you want to do today?" summer mommy routine. Even though I figured her attention-seeking behavior was partly to blame on our schedule-less summer, I couldn't have predicted how quickly she would bounce back into normal behavior when offered a bit of structure. Duly noted for future school breaks.

Friday, September 07, 2012

parenting a "spirited" child

Picking a Halloween costume. Much to Mommy's dismay, Raggedy Ann is not the winner.

Although I realize I handily place myself into a parenting cliche with this next observation, I'm going to say it anyway: Vivi is a special kid. I know, I know, I went there. I even nerdily bolded the text. Go ahead and call me a trite mother. But it's true, she is special! Ever since she turned to me at eighteen months old after a lengthy car trip and said "Oh my goodness, that was long!," I knew I was in for a parenting experience I wasn't quite expecting. The child knew about 150 words (counting what she knew in Spanish too) and spoke in 5-word sentences by the time the doctor told me at her check-up that she should know "about three to five words."

Thursday, August 30, 2012

{guest post}: four ideas for vocabulary-building projects and games


I am thrilled to have a guest post today by a talented language educator. The hubster and I both love language--vocabulary, foreign languages, etymology, you name it--and it is important to us that our children study language arts. Because we firmly believe language teaching begins at home, I've been looking for creative ways to add vocabulary-building to our daily activities. Enter Lily and her fabulous post! Be sure to read to the bottom so you can see her bio and website.

p.s. I must add that the "dictionary game" Lily describes below (known to some as Balderdash) is our favorite adult game at my mom's famous Christmas Eve party. The rivalry and ribbing are second to none, so only serious competitors need apply. 
***


vocabulary


Friday, August 24, 2012

unleash your kid's inner artist...at the mall!

This month, select GapKids stores across the country will host "Shine On Saturday" events. Click here to read more!

Vivi draws and paints whenever, wherever I will let her. The girl is an artist.

Share

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...