[Reprinted from Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages by L.R.Knost now available on Amazon]
I was one of those children who was incredibly picky when it came to food and, despite my mom’s gently enforced ‘one bite rule,’ I went on to become an incredibly picky eater as an adult, as well. I vividly remember as a young child gagging as I tried to force down a bite, my throat feeling like it was closing up, and like there was no way food was going to fit through there. As a very compliant child, it bothered me immensely to disappoint my mom, and, being the logical person that I was even at that younge age, I remember feeling that her expectations were very reasonable and being frustrated at my own inability to comply.
Fast forward a few years to when I began having children of my own and needed to make parenting decisions about everything from breastfeeding to cosleeping to discipline. On my journey to gentle parenting I revisited my childhood memories often, finding myself appreciating my mom’s gentleness and her way of using silliness to help me see the ‘silver lining’ in life when things were hard. In some things, I chose to follow the parenting path my mom took, and in others I took a different course and blazed my own trail.
When I was at university, I worked as a certified nutrition consultant with a focus on natural approaches to nutrition, health, and fitness. I took that knowledge, along with my studies in developmental psychology, human behavior, and communication, and incorporated all of it into my parenting decisions.
As I muddled through the toddler years with my firstborn, I decided to take an approach to nutrition that was unheard of, as far as I knew. I would offer to nurse, offer the food on my plate, and offer food I’d made specifically for him, and then let my little man decide. That was the beginning of our baby led weaning, though I didn’t know that term at the time.
What I discovered then and have seen proven time and again through the years with my own six very different children as well as with the families I’ve worked with, is that, given the freedom to choose, children will generally experiment with more textures and tastes than if they are forced to eat their parents’ choice of food for them. It’s simply human nature that, if a child (or an adult, for that matter!) knows that they don’t have to try a new food and that they can run to the trashbin and spit it out if they do try it and don’t like it, then they are far, far more likely to give it a chance. And if they don’t try it the first time it’s offered, or if they do try it and don’t like it, making it available again off and on in the future will give them more opportunities to try the food and perhaps end up liking it when their tastes mature a bit more.
In our home, my children know that if they don’t like what’s being served for a meal there is always an alternative in the form of a PB&J or a reheat later if they just aren’t hungry at mealtime, though if we’re sitting down together I do expect them to sit with the family and chat with us while we eat. Even if they like the food being served, they may not feel hungry for a heavy meal just then or perhaps the last time they ate that meal their tummy got upset or maybe there are other reasons they don’t want the meal that they simply can’t articulate. As the adult, I can choose to make an issue out of it and end up in an unnecessary power struggle, or I can choose to offer my children the same respect I offer myself, because you can bet your bottom dollar that if I don’t want to eat something, I’m not eating it!
Among the many benefits of this approach, beyond the greater propensity for a child to experiment with tastes and textures and beyond the elimination of mealtime battles, I also saved myself a ton of mommy guilt through the years. I had no way of knowing early on that my renaissance girl had Sensory Processing Disorder which was strongly affecting her ability to eat or that my little caboose was missing an enzyme and couldn’t eat meat. Had I spent their toddler years forcing foods on them and engaging in coercive or punative mealtime parenting, the damage to our relationship, not to mention their health, could have been disasterous. Additionally, children who feel powerless over their lives can begin trying to recapture a sense of power by exercizing excessive control over their eating with the danger of a resulting eating disorder when they get into their teen years.
So, on a practical level how do you get a toddler or preschooler to eat? Well, first and foremost, rigidly scheduling mealtimes creates a battleground in and of itself. Toddlers’ and preschoolers’ ever-shifting growth patterns cause them to go through slow-growth periods where they simply aren’t hungry and other periods where they’re hungry 24/7! Grazing, or eating multiple small meals and snacks throughout the day, not only fits these growth patterns better, but is actually a much healthier way for all of us to eat because it stabilizes blood sugar which, when low, leads to overeating as does simply eating because ‘it’s time.’ Teaching our little ones to listen to their bodies’ hunger cues is a hugely positive step toward avoiding obesity later in life, as well!
Secondly, a combination of keeping little ones active so they work up a good appetite (which also sets them on the path toward an active physical lifestyle!) and offering a variety of healthy foods throughout the day will typically be all it takes to meet their nutrition requirements. As a general guideline, toddlers and preschoolers need:
- Two to three servings of dairy (i.e. 1 oz. cheese, ½ cup milk, ½ cup yogurt);
- Four to six servings of grains (i.e. ½ slice bread, ½ cup non-sugared cereal, ¼ cup pasta, 2 crackers);
- Two servings of protein (i.e. two 1” squares of chicken, fish, or beef);
- Two to three servings of veggies (i.e. 2 tbs peas, corn, cauliflower, etc);
- And two to three servings of fruit (i.e. ½ banana, apple, orange, etc., ¼ cup raisins, blueberries, raspberries, 3-4 strawberries or grapes, etc)
Here are some fun ways to invite your little ones to make healthy eating choices:
- Need an easy and healthy breakfast for little ones? Try an ice cream cone filled with almonds & bite sized chunks of fruit & cheese!
- Start little people’s day healthy & happy. Make a smiley face clock on their plate with almonds, cheese & fruit with yogurt to dip them in!
- Try making ‘apple cookies’ (apples sliced into round discs) into faces with almonds, raisins & cheese!
- Sundae breakfast! Yogurt sprinkled with granola & raisins & nuts & drizzled with local honey (helps control seasonal allergies, too), yummy! *Note: Never feed honey to a baby under a year old.
- Here comes the sun! Make frozen pancakes more healthy by surrounding them with fruit & topping with berries & almonds & drizzling with local honey!
- Banana Boats~Slice of whole wheat bread spread with peanut butter & local honey & wrapped around a banana. Top with just a sprinkle of brown sugar for a treat!
- Double Trouble~Celery, carrot & pretzel sticks with a scoop of cottage cheese & a scoop of peanut butter for double dipping!
- Picasso PB&J’s~Round whole wheat flat bread with small dollops of peanut butter, fruit preserves & yogurt around the edge in a colorful palate with pretzel sticks for paint brushes!
- Boil some cauliflower, carrots, zucchini & yellow squash until a bit mushy & puree.
1) Mix with your favorite meatloaf recipe for a hidden veggie serving!
2) Mix with spaghetti sauce & freeze in single serving containers.
- Spaghetti Twisters~Make rotini noodles instead of spaghetti noodles for a cute ‘twist’ and add your special spaghetti sauce for a tornado of veggie goodness!
- Pizza Racers~Use rectangular flatbread & lightly coat with olive oil and broil for a couple of minutes to crisp it up, then add your souped-up spaghetti sauce & let your little ones top with mozzarella ‘racing stripes’ & pepperoni ‘racing tires’ for a super-charged dinner!
- Pureed cauliflower also works great mixed with mac & cheese, stuffing, and mashed potatoes for a hidden veggie to round out any meal!
“You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child!”
March 1st is World Book Day, and March 2nd is Dr. Seuss’ Birthday Extravaganza which includes the release of the much-anticipated new movie, The Lorax! If you’re a book-obsessed, homeschooling, movie-loving, Seussiac like I am, it’s practically a national holiday! And when you add my excitement over my newest little home-grown reader, it’s definitely time for a Seusserrific Celebration!
In honor of all of this wonderfulness and to help launch my new little reader into the wonderful world of books, I’ve been scouring the web, the bookshelves, and my scattered brain for all the Seussical fun I could find for my little people and yours. Here are a few of my finds!
Staples has these awesome Cat in the Hat cutouts intended for use on a bulletin board, but we repurposed them for several games such as BIG LETTER~little letter Match-up and Seusstastic Scavenger Hunt. For BIG LETTER~little letter Match-up I drew capital letters and their counterparts on the backs of the cutouts and laid them out in a 3 x 3 grid. For Seusstastic Scavenger Hunt I wrote clues on the cutouts to help my little people find Dr. Seuss books I’d hidden throughout the house and tucked the clues in each book so that when they found one book and we read it, they’d find the next clue hidden in the pages of the book they’d just found…a two-fer! So fun!
We also made up a Go Fish in the Bowl game matching upper and lower case letters. It’s just your basic Go Fish, but somehow on Cat in the Hat cut-outs it became magical!
Some leftover pieces of an old game yielded a plastic Green Eggs and Ham to play a Would You~Could You spin on the old Mother May I game. We placed the Green Eggs and Ham game piece at one end of the room and took turns asking questions like ’Would you, could you let me take three steps forward?’ and giving directions like ‘Could you, would you jump up and down and take one step back?’
We’re putting together a Seuss Quiet Bag which we’ll be adding to over time, and I’m working on making a Cat in the Hat Calm-Me-Jar for our bag. I’ll post a picture here as soon as it’s done! Right now we’ve got favorite books and our Go Fish in the Bowl cards in this cute, little Seuss backpack I found at a thrift store.
Here it is! Meet the The Cat in the Hat Can Help You with That Calm-Me-Jar!
And here is my six year old’s contribution to the Seuss Birthday celebration~Seuss Tower! Watch out Donald, my little funny-face is out to trump you, lol!
Check out these 7 Tips for Raising Bookworms!
Here are some awesomely Seusstastic links to crafts and games and yummy Seuss treats you and your little ones will love!
Make Seusstastic Lorax trees from pencils!
Oreos, white and red chocolate, and marshmallows equal Seussalicious Cat in the Hat cookies!
A Seussville craft for little Seusslets to create!
And check out this abSeusslutely ObSeussed site for literally hundreds and hundreds of Seusstastic crafts, books, games, recipies, ideas, and links!
Children who love to read…READ! Engaging children’s hearts in the wonder of reading instead of just training their minds in its mechanics. Raising Bookworms
It’s time for a return to childhood, to simplicity, to running and climbing and laughing in the sunshine, to experiencing happiness instead of being trained for a lifetime of pursuing happiness…it’s time to let children be children again. A Return to Childhood
Think homeschooled children are unsocialized, over-controlled, locked-away-from-the-world misfits? Think again! My Renaissance Girl
There’s another teenager in our house! My Renaissance Girl turned thirteen this week. It’s hard to believe my little preemie who started her days in the NICU, came home at 3 lbs 13 oz on an apnea/heart monitor, has struggled with severe dyslexia, sensory and auditory processing disorders, vestibular issues, attention deficit disorder, and more, is now a poised and confident young lady who is frequently absorbed in classic literature, enthralled with the art of Masters such as Van Gogh and Degas, and who’s musical tastes run from Mozart to The Beatles.
My children are homeschooled and are quite used to interacting in a mutually respectful manner with adults in banks, doctor’s offices, libraries, etc, so it’s always a bit of a culture shock when we run into society’s negative view of adolescents as we did on Renaissance Girl’s birthday. Literally, every time we mentioned that it was her thirteenth birthday as we shopped for gifts and took her for a birthday lunch, the reaction was rolled eyes and either expressions of condolences or warnings to my husband and I. Well, except for the one waiter who leered at her until my hubs caught his eye and shut him down!
What a world we live in, seriously. Is it any wonder that teenagers seem to have anti-social tendencies when, based on chronology alone, they’re either pigeon-holed as miscreants without anyone taking the time to actually talk to them (or, more importantly, listen to them!) or immediately become the object of sexual attention?
For those of you willing to look beyond the number of years a person has lived on this earth and see the person themselves, let me introduce you to a young lady who has some amazing gifts to offer this world…my Renaissance Girl!
Renaissance Girl has a heart for the elderly, the poor, the hurting, for anyone who is suffering. From her earliest years she would toddle up to an elderly person sitting alone at church or the park and climb up beside them to ‘chat’ or sing them a song or show them a flower she’d picked. Her heart breaks when she hears of children being abused or neglected, and she plans to adopt as many as her future husband will agree to (and with her sweet, strong spirit, I imagine she’ll follow through on that!)
The paintings of The Masters ignite Renaissance Girl’s imagination. For her birthday we ordered a Van Gogh’s ’Starry Night’ inspired ice cream cake from our little town’s best kept secret…Donna C, the decorator at our local Dairy Queen!
As part of our interest-led homeschooling, we’ll be working our way through unit studies on Michelangelo, Renoir, Van Gogh, Picasso, and more with materials from here.
Renaissance Girl has decorated her room like a small artist’s loft with a drafting desk, a custom mural of a Parisian street scene (by your’s truly!), a romantic little reading nook with twinkle lights, and a stainless steel cable (Ikea!) stretched across the wall for her to hang her art, along with an art wall waiting to be filled.
Renaissance Girl studies with Mozart filling the silence (an SPD and ADD coping technique), and then rocks out to the Beatles on her brother’s Xbox Rock Band. She picks out tunes on the piano, trying to teach herself to play by ear, and is working on teaching herself to play the guitar.
Her beautiful mind sees the world through a unique lens similar to those of historical icons such as Thomas Edison, Leonardo Da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, and Albert Einstein. While academics have been a huge challenge for her, the artistic and musical gifts she’s been given are incredible, and her gentle, sensitive soul is a rare and precious treasure. Many years of therapy have yielded the ability to read, and she’s like a butterfly newly emerged from her cocoon. Jane Eyre, Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, all have sent her beautiful mind soaring to different times and places, and all have become intimate, lifelong friends with my sweet Renaissance Girl. (From Beautiful Minds)
From her own artistic ability to her fascination with The Masters, her beautiful voice to her eclectic taste in music, and her humorous storytelling to her love of literature, my Renaissance Girl is much, much more than ‘just’ a teenager or ‘just’ a girl or ’just’ anything. She is an incredible gift to the world, and our family is blessed beyond measure to have her!
Think homeschooled children are unsocialized, over-controlled, locked-away-from-the-world misfits? Think again!
From goofing around in Goofy hats at Downtown Disney to playing Just Dance 3 on the Xbox Kinect, from gales of giggles pushing each other on the tire swing to gathering around to check out the awesome cello mastery of ThePianoGuys, from chowing down on mexican food at Tijuana Flats to burning waffles for breakfast, and from trying on jewelry to decorating cupcakes, these homeschooled girls are as All-American as apple pie!
Check out Renaissance Girl’s favorite YouTube version of ThePianoGuy’s dueling cellos!
Happy 13th Birthday, My Renaissance Girl!
[Reprinted with permission from The Gentle Parent: Discipline Tips, Tools, and Techniques by L.R.Knost available November 2013; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages now available on Amazon and through other major retailers.]
You look a little frazzled, Dude. Hard day?
Man, I love my mommy to pieces, but seriously, she does NOT know how to share. I took one little thing out of her purse, and she freaked! Snatching and saying, “Mine!” and everything. And right in the middle of the store, too! So embarrassing. Everybody was looking at me, rolling their eyes. I felt like a total failure.
I hear you! I have the same problem. And mine has been getting into EVERYTHING, too! Like, I stashed my cracker under the couch so I could have a little snack later, and she totally threw it in the trash! Who does that?
You think that’s bad? Check this. I’m minding my own business, just chillin’ with my toys, and she just snatches me up and carts me off and straps me in the highchair, no warning at all. And I’m not even hungry! Then she gets all upset when I do a little physics with my food. Btw, so cool how sometimes it falls straight down and sometimes it splats against the wall. I think it has something to do with the consistency of the food and the angle of my trajectory. Just a working theory atm, though.
Cool! Let me know what you figure out. How about this. I can’t get anything done! No joke! I spent all morning building this stellar block tower. Dude, you should have seen this thing. It was epic! So, I walk away for like one second, and she dumps the whole thing in the toy box! An entire morning’s work, gone. I don’t know why I bother sometimes.
Same! And what’s with this new ‘time-out’ thing mine’s into all of a sudden? I get the slightest bit upset about something, and, just when I need a cuddle, she sticks me in this chair and won’t let me get up! Like a chair is a good hugger? Really?
That is just wrong. Hey, how about this whole potty training dealio? She wants me to do my business in a little plastic bowl. We eat out of those things! Seriously, you gotta wonder what goes on in their brains sometimes.
You’re lucky. Mine keeps propping me up on that big white contraption with water in it. I could drown! And you should see what happens when she pushes down that handle in the back. Can you say vortex of DOOM?!?
Not cool, Dude, not cool at all! Are you dealing with tantrums yet? Mine has got a temper like you wouldn’t believe! Anytime she doesn’t get her way, watch out for the fireworks! She yells and flaps her arms and stomps around, and, I hate to say it, but she’s starting to hit. Like that’s going to solve anything. I have no idea how to handle these aggression issues! Why can’t they just be reasonable like us?
I think it’s a communication issue, myself. I mean, they’re just barely starting to understand us when we talk to them, so I try to cut mine a little slack when she starts getting frustrated. I just stay close, maybe pat her arm or offer her a toy. Sometimes she settles down a bit and starts smiling again, but sometimes she just needs a little time to calm down. I stay present, though, so she knows I’m always there for her.
I think you’re messing up there, Dude. You need to walk away, just walk away and let her deal. If you comfort her, she’ll expect you to help her process her emotions, and that’ll lead to dependency issues, mark my words! When she freaks, you’ve got to force her to control herself! When she’s ready to be reasonable and listen, then you can be friends again.
I don’t know. Mine flat out won’t listen. I can’t tell you how many times I have to ask her to play with me before she finally looks up from her toy. What is it with parents and electronics, anyway? And then all she does is say, “Just a minute, hon.” What exactly is a minute, btw?
‘Just a minute’ means ‘This is more important than you,’ Dude. Come on, get with the program. You have to make them pay attention! Yell. Throw something. Bite the cat. Whatever it takes! Don’t let them get away with disrespecting you like that or they’ll never pay attention.
Word. Talk about getting with the program, how do you handle the sleep issues? I just cannot take another sleepless night! She keeps me up for hours every. single. night. It starts out great, bath-time, a book and cuddles, but then she just clocks out like I’m some kind of a toy she can switch off when it gets dark! And, man, is it dark. I don’t know what’s living in my closet, but it is ginormous!
Sleep training, Dude! It’s the only way. They turn that light out and shut the door, you follow them! Every time. Or, if you’re too scared (totally get that, btw) then just start hollering and don’t stop. If you can’t sleep, make sure they can’t, either! And don’t give in. Not even once. You let them get away with that stuff one time, and you’ll never get any sleep, ever! They have to learn that it’s their job to take care of you day and night, even if all you need is a hug!
Got it. Oh, man, here she comes. Seriously, do you have this problem, too? We’re at the park. Everybody’s having a good time. And she just up and decides to leave. I think she’s got some anti-social tendencies. I’m thinking of having her tested.
Same here! But I’m working on it. They’ve got to learn it’s not all about them, and it’s our job to teach them. Look, here comes mine, too. Watch and learn, Dude. I’m using the arched-back, flail and wail today. Deep breath and, “No! No! Noooooo…”
Ever heard the phrase sisyphean effort? It refers to any endless, frustrating, fruitless task, and it’s based on the mythological Greek king, Sisyphus. In short, King Sisyphus was a crafty, incestuous, murderous king who cheesed off the wrong mythical figure and was sentenced to an eternity of pushing a huge boulder up a hill almost to the top only to have it roll back to the bottom of the hill where he’d have to start all over again…whine, whine, whine.
Seriously? The best they could come up with was to sentence the black-hearted king to be a mom?
Mommy boulder #1 ~ Every mommy knows the moment the mountain of laundry is reduced to the last load, it’s a clear invitation to every stomach/intestinal bug in the vicinity to visit with their leaking, spewing, and reeking baggage of bodily fluids.
Mommy boulder #2 ~ Every mommy has experienced the sinking feeling of tackling the mountain of dishes, triumphantly putting away the last dish, and heading to the family room to sit down for the first time all day only to spy a pile of dirty cups and plates on the coffee table while simultaneously being bombarded with “I’m hungry!” and “What’s for dinner?”
Mommy boulder #3 ~ Every mommy’s shoulders have drooped when, upon vacuuming the family room and moving on to the bedrooms, she’s heard the unmistakable crunch of crackers and rushed back into the family room to find her toddler gleefully dancing to the magical music of goldfish being ground into carpet.
Mommy boulder #4 ~ Every mommy has cringed when, after organizing the playroom into neat bins of Legos, crayons, Hotwheels, Barbies, blocks, magnetic letters, puzzles, marbles, Squinkies, tea sets, play food, My Little Ponies, etc, she’s headed into the kitchen to start lunch only to run back at break-neck, but oddly slow-motion, and either way, insufficient, speed, at the shout “Where’s my blue truck?” followed by the crash of multiple bins being dumped into one. big. pile.
Mommy boulder #5 ~ Every mommy’s brain has mulled thoughts of possible tortures and other heinous acts of revenge after nursing her baby to sleep and then, bladder bursting, trying to slip out of the room only to hear the clomp of preschooler feet followed by the inevitable, “Mooooommmmyyyyy!” followed by the equally inevitable baby wail. (Note: real cause of incontinence?)
Any ‘Mommy boulders’ you’d like to add, my fellow mountain-climbing mamas?
You’re sitting in a restaurant waiting the prerequisite 10-15 minutes for your food to be served, chatting quietly with your spouse and two-year-old, when it happens…the dreaded moment suddenly hits, and life as you and every patron, staff member, and passerby know it is turned inside out and upside down. That moment that every parent fears, the sudden switch from table companion to terror, aka ‘Toddler Time’, is, in fact, toddler time. The insignificant 10-15 minute waiting period for food to arrive is actually eons in toddler time, eons of hunger, eons of boredom, eons of stillness, eons of being expected to act like the adult that they are years and years (eons!) away from becoming. But you really don’t want to be housebound for all of those eons, right? And yet more and more public places are becoming child un-friendly with snarky signs saying they’ll give your child an espresso and a pony if you don’t control him or charge you extra if you dare to enter their establishment and support their business with your hard-earned money or even flat out ban you altogether if you bring ‘the beast’ out in public with you!
And what about those hazy, lazy summer days at the park with the laughter of children floating in the air, mommies packing babies in their carriers while they chat and keep eagle eyes on their precious little monkies dangling from brightly colored jungle-gyms, when it happens…the dreaded moment suddenly hits, and all goes quiet as every eye turns toward the poor soul who called out those awful, awful words, “It’s time to go!” The words echo against the lowering sky, which has conveniently decided to threaten rain just to add to the sheer madness of the moment, and then the shrieking begins. In toddler time, an hour at the park is gone in the blink of an eye, and fun things like being strapped into carseats and baths and naps awaiting at home are just adding insult to injury.
So what is a parent to do?
Here are a few preemptive tools for your parenting toolbox:
1.) Gather a few special ‘quiet’ toys and keep them in a Quiet Bag in the car. Only get them out when you go into a store or restaurant and let your little one play with one toy at a time until it’s time to go, saving one last special toy for the car ride home. Some ideas for stocking your Quiet Bag:
Here is our Dr Seuss Quiet Bag we put together for Dr. Seuss’ Birthday…
I found some excellent Cat in the Hat crafts on clearance at Michael’s. We have a felt board with felt Seuss characters and lots of colorful felt letters and numbers and symbols. And we’re making a felt board with a piece of metal, too, so we can use magnets on it. The foam Seuss stickers I found on clearance and the foam pieces to the Cat in the Hat mosaic will go on a magnet sheet and be cut out with an Exact-o-knife. All of the items went into labeled Ziploc bags for easy storage, and then were packed away into the Dr Seuss backpack I found at a thrift store. My little ones love it!
This is our new Scooby Doo Quiet Bag. With all of the back-to-school sales firing up, this is a great time to stock up on Quiet Bag supplies, and since we found this super-cool Scooby Doo lunch bag on sale we decided to just make a whole new one so we could alternate them out. Toys-R-Us had a little party favor area with mini boxes of clay and mini water paints and stress balls and fun little smiley-face bendable figures for $0.50-$1.00, so we stocked this bag with those along with some Scooby action figures, zombies, and mini markers. Then I just printed out some coloring sheets to fit the theme, and our Scooby Doo Quiet Bag was done, no crafting necessary!
2.) We made Calm-Me-Jars with these round, plastic bottles for our Quiet Bag. So far, we’ve made Starry, Starry Night, Goodnight Moon, Nemo Under the Sea, And Hello Kitty Princess Ballerina. Can you tell which ones my little ones named, lol? (click here for detailed instructions on how to make them and ideas for how to use them to help cope with or even prevent tantrums!)
3.) Consistently keeping your little one in a highchair (or carrier/cart in stores) will help with any running around, disturbing people, and getting into things issues.
4.) Your best offense is a good defense, so keeping your little person occupied is always a good place to start, but if yelling/screaming become an issue, try responding with a whispered question or two. It’s pretty much irresistible for little ones to quiet down to hear what you’re saying, and even better if what you’re saying is super silly…”I think my nose went outside for a walk.” (conspiratorial ‘shared secret’ look) ”Could you check for me to see if it’s back yet?” (crossing your eyes to see for yourself)
5.) With the dreaded leaving-the-park issue, try bringing snacks your small one loves, and instead of saying “Time to go” try saying “Snack time!” and describe the yumminess waiting for her, all the while gently shepherding her to the car.
6.) Don’t forget to pack your ‘funnybone’ for a back-up plan! Humor is a powerful parenting tool, and carseats presented as rocketships to the moon, shared naptimes (parents can always use the extra sleep!) on marshmallow planets, highchair-bound movie directors with mommy and daddy as the actors, and shopping carts cars that continually stall and need to be fixed by their little riders are all inventive ways of keeping little people too busy and happy to meltdown. (Not to mention that these are great ways for parents to reconnect with their little ones and remember just how adorable they really are!)
7.) Actively work at avoiding confrontations and meltdowns by giving choices, staying engaged (i.e. listening to your child), and paying attention to triggers such as hunger, tiredness, sickness, etc. When our parenting goals shift from meeting needs and guiding actions to controlling our children, they invariably rebel and the battle is on, not a happy circumstance at any time, but especially difficult to handle in public! (And, in the long run, that makes for an ‘us against them’ relationship that sets the stage for an unhappy home, particularly when the teen years arrive.)
This is for all you mamas who see the creative projects and crafts and cute baking on Pinterest and wish you were the kind of ’crafty mama’ who could whip together such adorableness for your little ones. I, too, wish I was a crafty mama and have pinned so many great ideas and tried a few with…let’s just say less-than-stellar results, lol. But my children have loved every flub, giggled at every failure, and laughed their way through every project regardless of the results. There’s joy in the journey, mamas, so take heart and grab some of these ideas and flub and fail your way to a happy, craft-astic holiday!
Here’s a project that didn’t turn out as intended. (From the creative genius Play at Home Mom, who made a beautifully flat and festively decorated ice rink which mine doesn’t remotely resemble, haha. Head over to her site for some really great ideas!)
But, even though my ice rink somehow ended up with a mysterious growth, my little people loved it just the same. In fact, they really enjoyed the ice mountain (aka ‘growth’) and used it for some Florida sledding!
And here are some other ideas I’m planning to
ruin, er…try out for some Christmas fun!
This site has some really cute Advent ideas for using picture books!
~And these cute ideas are from Pinterest!~
My most recent craft-aster: setting Christmas gifts on fire last night! So, fyi, coffee beans are flammable (who knew?). The candle needs to be in a glass votive and high enough out of the coffee so the beans won’t fall in and catch fire. Mine didn’t even vaguely resemble the adorable ones pictured below (pre or post fire, lol), so click on the picture to get instructions if you want to make them!
I am thankful for An Attitude of Gratitude!
To be thankful is to see~
The sweetness of a little helper’s heart instead of just the extra work in being ‘helped’
The gift of shelter instead of just a house in need of cleaning
The provision of food to eat instead of just a pile of dishes to wash
The worthiness of a child’s play instead of just a waste of time
The miracle of breastfeeding instead of just a display of skin
The happiness of the little ‘king of the mountain’ instead of just the pile of laundry to be refolded
The love language of a man instead of just a fixed toilet
The blessing of an income instead of just a job
The joy of serving others instead of just the burden of other’s needs
The goodness of family instead of just the annoyance of different personalities
The image of God in others instead of just their human flaws
I am thankful for traditions!
The knowledge, unity, and security that come from our traditions give us strength and courage, and it is this strength and courage that fuel our ability to reach out to those in need, give mercy to those who have failed us, and accept those who differ from us.
This Thanksgiving, I give thanks for those customs and traditions who make us…US!
I am thankful for little chefs!
~Finding chopsticks in the hamper doesn’t make you blink an eye
~Seeing the baby eat an old fishie cracker she had stashed in her bouncy seat just reminds you it’s time to start dinner
~Stuffed animals multiply as mysteriously as socks disappear
~Skipping one day of doing laundry equals TWO mountains of dirty clothes
~You have the happy meal prices memorized
~When people find out you homeschool, they DON’T ask about socialization
~When you say, “Guess what?” everyone assumes you’re pregnant
~You need a dayplanner just to remember your own children’s birthdays
~When you pull up to the bank drive-thru in your 15 passenger van they ask, “How many have you got with you today?” while pulling out the whole jar of lollipops
~The basket for shoes by the door disappears entirely when everyone’s home
~You grocery shop from an inventory list and dishing up dinner looks like a food line
~Making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches uses an entire loaf of bread
~When people talk about a savings plan your mind immediately goes to the change jar on your kitchen counter
~Sticky is the predominant designer texture in your house
~The bathroom is your preferred reading room
~Going out for a ‘nice’ meal with the whole family sends someone ELSE’S kids to college
~Entering a building requires the use of both doors and lets out at least $25 in a/c
~Your pediatrician schedules an appointment ‘block’ for you
~You identify your children to other people by ordinal numbers
~Crayons are in pieces, pencils have no erasers, and pens are nonexistent
~“Your sister’s not a chew toy,” “Take that horse out of your pants,” and “The chair is not a hat,” are just normal conversation
~You can spot a ‘kid’s eat free’ sign a mile away
~Some people call you crazy, but most call you blessed!
I wish there was someplace less than 30 miles away that could make me a good macchiato. But nooooo. Seattle is the only home of decent coffee. Not li’l ole Everett. I wish baristas wouldn’t ask “Like, a caramel macchiato?” when you order your drink.
I wish we could live in Seattle. The pawnshops, the boarded up pay-by-the-hour motels, the dirt of our surroundings wears on me at times. But then I see the dirt of Seattle, and know that there are hurting people and disease of the soul and ugliness everywhere and that the only utopia will be after this life. And then I come home and see the beauty of our culturally diverse neighborhood; projects yes, but a dozen countries represented, children tearing about in the nearby parks hollering at each other in a dozen different languages, and I know our multi-cultural-ministry hearts are planted here for a reason.
I wish Jesus were here in the flesh so I could ask Him a whole load of questions.
I wish my little section of heaven would include my CuteBoy best friend ever, a truly free spirit, texture and color and beauty yet unseen, somehow the perfect blend of a rich, heterogeneous urban dwelling with galleries and street musicians and food hawkers on one half and the other half an endless ocean, the waves crashing, the salty seaweed scent soothing, and the ability to switch between the sounds of the urban and the sounds of the sea at my will. I would wish for the assignment of food, food, food, glorious food. Heavenly food, access to anything and everything, each era, each region, each culture on earth and in heaven represented on my menu; no burnt fingertips, no pots boiled over, no underdone bites. I’d serve a dozen courses to Esther and Vashti and Hagar and Jael and every other fierce woman in Biblical history. I’d serve them to my dear Ruthie, my Ugandan sister I wish to see this side of heaven. I’d serve them to my grandmother and my sister… the older sister I was supposed to have, who was taken to heaven too soon, I’d serve them to my babies I never got to hold. And of course Jesus in the flesh so I can ask Him a whole load of questions. We would eat and drink and talk and never grow full or tired or bored or annoyed because someone said something stupid.
But chances are, He’s laughing at my wishing imaginings of heaven ’cause His unknowable plans are a whole lot better. I wish I had a home big enough for all of these babies.
I wish for the day we take our family to that Great Horn, the source of the Nile, the land that holds the best food in the world to finally meet the rest of our babies I know God has for us.
I wish I saw children spoken to with the respect they deserve more often than I do.
I wish I knew how to say more than “Where’s the post office?” in Russian. That was an expensive class.
And while you’re at it, read this book too.
I used to wish for bigger breasts, critically eyeing my 12-year-old body, wishing for justthatmuchmore and now I wish for a flatter stomach, critically eyeing my 32-year-old momma body, wishing for justthatmuchless. Which my husband reminds me is absurd, it’s sexy because it’s an empty pocket where our daughter grew and how much more beautiful is that? I now wish my daughter will not be subjected to our culture’s obsession with physical perfection, and if necessary, has her own husband to remind her of her true beauty.
I wish I always knew what was going on in my BabyGirl’s head and how to translate her sweet babblings and raspberries into words I understand.
I wish I knew how to make a killer hollandaise sauce. And a sexy poached egg. And perfectly crisp hashbrowns. Then I would never have to go to another diner again.
I wish I could bottle the scent in the crook of my daughter’s neck. But it’s so much more than the scent… It’s the sensation of her hair grazing her earlobe and the tip of my nose, it’s her giggles when I kiss her, it’s the peace of breathing her in after she’s asleep. That’s what I wish I could bottle.
I wish Every Single Child was parented with intentionality, with grace, without violence, with the closest thing we can possibly achieve to the perfection of our Heavenly Father.
I wish every heart, including mine, would expand to defend and provide and rescue the orphan. That every heart would break for the things that break His.
Only I don’t have to wish. Because I serve a God who hears my prayers and does as He sees fit.
Which even though I don’t understand it, is usually better than my wishes anyway.