Monday, July 25, 2011

True Story: We're Trash Pickers.

The other day, we were at my in-laws' house and we all decided to head out for lunch. As we backed out of their driveway, my eyes caught site of something amazing:

a huge pile of limbs and yard clippings (we're talking, it was taller than the Civic) with a beauty of a some-kind-of-furniture-in-antique-green upside down amidst the branches.

I pulled to a stop and threw the car into reverse. "LOOK! Babe, look! What IS that???" I demanded.

So my husband, sweet and kind and dutiful and way more willing than my lazy self to get out of the (air conditioned) car and pull this beauty from the (probably scratchy) pile of yard trimmings, went and retrieved said item (in 100+ heat at 11 am after mowing his parents' acre all morning while I lounged at home with the kids reading books and snacking on cherries). He placed it in the middle of the street, checked it for sound construction, and deemed it worthy of being stolen from the front yard trash heap of his parents' neighbors to come home with us.

Let me say this: his parents live in a very well-to-do neighborhood, and this was obviously a trash pile, so we definitely didn't feel like we were maybe stealing from the poor to give to ourselves.

And, also: at Goodwill I guesstimate this would have cost about $35-65, depending who priced it and which Goodwill it went to for sale.

Alas, it's not in perfect condition, but it is a solid wood, antique green with gold leafing vanity that looks absolutely perfect in Luca's room. With a damp cloth we cleaned off the small amount of dirt on it, and welcomed it to its new home.

Long live Trash Picking!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Abusive Boyfriend In the House

I have a confession to make. I have an abusive boyfriend. He lives with me. He has for years. He takes up both physical and emotional space, and no matter how many times I promise to quit him, he whispers sweet-nothings and makes empty promises and I go back to him. Sometimes several times a day.

He's an asshole. Mostly because he tells me lies, but sometimes just because he tells me the truth I don't want to hear.

And yet, I keep going back.

It's time for me to admit the truth: I have no intention of quitting this relationship, even though I know it would probably be best if I did. Instead, I let him live with me, and I depend on him to tell me everything from what I should eat today (or shouldn't have eaten last night) to how I should feel about my body and what my mood for the day will be.

It gets worse, though. I think my abusive boyfriend is having an affair behind my back! That's right, the cad is a jerk AND a cheat. And the culprit is a lady I know well.

My abusive boyfriend and his lady like to team up against me, confusing and confounding me on a monthly basis. They tell me one day that I look great ("Your butt is SO getting smaller!") and the next day they chastise me and call me a fatty ("Dude...put down the trail mix and ice cream, chubs!"). And then, a day later, they lure me back with skinny promises and those darn sweet-nothings ("I'm sorry, I didn't even SEE you there. You're getting so skinny!!").

My abusive boyfriend is my scale. I love him, in spite of his one missing foot and his bad attitude. In spite of his inconsistencies (up a pound?!?! Down THREE!!!! Wait, up 0.5???). In spite of his lies (I'm totally getting skinnier!!). Mostly in spite of his truths (Yep, shouldn't have had Mexican food the night before weigh-in!).

I know I should toss him. Take out his batteries. Make him break up with his lady so the two aren't secretly meeting up one week out of every month to screw with my mind and my vision of reality. But despite many, many efforts over the years, my actions speak louder than my words. I am not going to break up with him. I am going to have to accept that he's not always right (Hello, men everywhere, right?) and that he lies when I need the truth and tells the truth when I wish it was just a lie. I am going to have to learn not to let him control me, rather to use him as inspiration and motivation instead of as a mirror of who I am and what I am worth.

If I can have one kind of revenge, let it be this: at least I make him live in the bathroom.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Don't Skip Any Parts.

After dinner and some swimming time, I piled the kids into the car for a pre-bed McDonald's ice cream run. As we're waiting in an impossibly long line, Luca pipes up from the backseat, "Mommy, turn this music down. I need to talk about things."

I cooperate and turn the radio off, asking what she wants to talk about.

"Let's talk about babies."
"How do the babies get out of their mommy's belly?"
"Well, remember we talked about this before? The baby grows in the mama's belly, and when it's ready to be born the mama pushes with her tummy."
"And then she goes to a hospital?"
"Sometimes sweetie. But sometimes, like when your brother was born, the mommy decides to stay at home."
"Oh." She pauses for a minute to think. "But how does the mommy push the baby out?"
"Um, she uses her tummy muscles. Kind of like when you go potty."
"But where does she push?"
"Um, well....she pushes with her tummy (here, I take a rolled up tube of fabric I have in my car and place it in my palms, then web my fingers together around one side of it) and the baby moves. Pretend this (gesturing to fabric tube) is the baby and my hands are the tummy muscles. They tighten and push and the baby moves down (I mimic this with my hands and the fabric). See?"
"That's cool!"
"Yeah, it is pretty cool."
"So then the baby comes out through her tummy?"
"Sort of." shit shit shit shit shit

::I interrupt this story to explain how I feel about having these kinds of conversations with kids. My husband and I decided long ago that we would always tell the truth about these types of issues, but that we would try not to over-explain (see Parenting 101: Don't Overthink It). In other words, the last time Luca and I had this conversation, I was able to avoid directly explaining the anatomy and physiology of giving birth and making babies because she wasn't really asking about that. She was happy with a vague explanation that matched the reality of images she's seen of birth. If she's not asking the question, I don't need to try to answer it just yet.
But when she does ask the question? I owe it to her and I'm only being true to myself and my husband and how we choose to raise our kids, if I answer her in an honest but age-appropriate way.::
deep breath

"Actually, the baby doesn't come out through the mommy's tummy, Luca. It lives there while she's pregnant but when it's ready to be born she pushes it and it comes out her vagina."
"Yeah." And then, from both of us, a moment of silence. I turn the radio back on.

"Mama? Turn the radio down again. How does the baby get in the mommy's tummy? I wanna know the WHOLE story mama. Don't skip any parts."
shit shit shit shit shit double shit

For a second I considered not really answering. I mean...the girl is FOUR. Does she really need to have that much information? But then I thought about it a different way. She doesn't need to know it all at 4, but I also don't want to be having this conversation when she's 11 or 13 and wishing we'd been talking about it all along. The way I figure, if we talk about it all along, she not only will feel more comfortable talking and asking questions as she gets older, but we'll also have time to ease into being comfortable with these conversations. Plus, at 4 she has no idea that her questions might make people uncomfortable, and I'd rather she get the answer from me than ask others who might not know the right way to answer.

"The daddy's body makes something called sperm and the mommy's body makes little eggs. When they want to make a baby, the daddy puts some sperm in the mommy and it meets the egg and then grows into a baby."

"Oh. That's really neat, mama. I want to see how that happens someday."
"I hope you will, sweetie," I answer, silently saying to myself When you are at least 25.

I know it's not the most eloquent explanation, and it definitely glosses over the finer details. But she was satisfied with the answer to that one as well. I really never knew a kid her age could be so observant of her world and so inquisitive. I love it, especially how she warns us not to bullshit here and to be sure to give her 'the whole story'. Here's hoping our approach doesn't mess her up forever!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Parenting 101: Don't Overthink It.

My brother and his wife had a baby, and my kids are fully obsessed. When Rohan was a newborn, Luca often could be found 'nursing' a doll or stuffed animal while I nursed Rohan. As soon as there were no nursing mommies in her immediate life, however, she switched to mostly feeding her babies from bottles.

Since Patrick's birth, Luca has been around a few times when he's nursed, and it's reignited her interest in breastfeeding her own 'babies'.

The other day, we left the house to meet my family for dinner, and when the kids dragged their feet a bit, I encouraged them to hurry so we could see Patrick. On her way out the door, Luca grabbed her baby, who she has named Rainbow, and brought her along for the ride.

A few minutes into the drive, from the backseat, she chirps up, "Mama? How can I feed my baby?"
"You can nurse her, sweetie."
"Well, you didn't bring any bottles, so you'll have to nurse her."
"But how? How can people feed babies with their boobies?"
(This is big, I thought. I have to handle this correctly. Explain how a mom's body makes the milk and the hormones and the biology...)
"Well, honey, a mama's body was made to make milk for her babies. When she has a baby, her body knows how to make milk and the baby knows how to drink it."
"But how can I feed the baby my boobie milk, mama?"
"Well, sweetie, you just lift your shirt remember, right? You just hold your baby and she can eat. And if you're the mama, your body will -"
"Mommy. Mom?"
" - make the - yes, honey?"
"I mean, how can I feed my baby when my seatbelt straps are in the way?"

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Double-Braggin' It.

Rohan's officially potty trained. I guess it's safe to say this now that it's been a few months, though I'm pretty sure the law of the universe says tomorrow he'll poop all over our new floors.

I took the day off work on Tuesday to spend time with good friends who were in town from St. Louis. The morning involved pool time, Goowill hunting, lunch at a favorite pizza spot, a Target run, and then home for naps. Rohan was acting a little like he needed to pee as we left Target, but he denied it so I figured we'd be home in 10 minutes and he could go then. Only he fell asleep in the car and couldn't be roused. No problem, I figured, and I strapped a diaper onto his sleeping body.

A mere 45 minutes into naptime, he was standing in the hall upstairs crying for me. I went up, wondering why he was awake already, and found him clutching his diaper. Figuring he'd wet it, I scooped him up and discovered it was dry. On a hunch, I took him to the bathroom, took off the diaper, and supported his sleepy body in the potty. He peed, leaned into me, and closed his eyes. Back to bed we went, where he was fast asleep again for another hour. Odd, I thought. And then I realized: he'd woken to pee. But I knew it was probably a fluke.

Not so. Since then, he's done this same thing to me 3 times, to my mom while at her house once, and one more time to Luca, who happily escorted him to the bathroom and helped him out. Yeah, she's really an awesome big sister. And it's not just naptime. The past two nights he's done this as well, peeing on the potty before letting me tuck him right back into bed. I'm considering putting a little training potty in his room and putting him to bed in undies. Any of my readers out there have insight on whether that tactic would work or backfire?

Either way, I remain 100% impressed by his ability to pretty much potty train himself only 3 months after his second birthday. That boy is amazing!


We spent most of today prepping the last area of downstairs for laminates. Our entry way feeds into the stairs, the garage, the front door, and the den, which is sunken and includes two steps. When we ripped up our tile back in October of last year, we didn't rip out everything on those steps because we didn't know what we'd do in that area. Today, we realized it needed to be stripped and cleaned in order for the entry flooring to be completed. Once that was done, we installed more floors, took the old sliders and stove to donate at the Habitat for Humanity REStore and Goodwill, and then came home for more flooring work. Darrick did most of the work while I entertained/intercepted the kids and made lunches and dinners to keep everyone's bellies happy.

After dinner, Darrick and Rohan went to my ILs' house to check on their pets and pool since they are out of town until tomorrow. Left alone, Luca suddenly deemed our night, "Girls' Night Out Only" (I think she heard me talking about a GNO invite I'd received earlier in the day) and decided we should do something 'just for the girls'. So, together we colored pictures, then put on our suits and went for a swim. She kept saying over and over how it was time for 'just the girls' and how 'the boys can't come with us', and then she would get very giddy and laugh loudly before running into my arms and giving me kisses and cuddles. We played basketball in the pool and she practiced floating, then together we came inside to put on 'super warm jammies' and watch a 'kid show' (Netflix of the show BusyTown). It was so amazing to get to spend even a few hours one-on-one with my girl, and to see her excited about it as well. We spend as much time together as possible when I'm not working, but the truth is I very rarely get one-on-one quality time with either kid to do whatever they want and luxuriate in it being special time for us together. I love watching my sweet baby growing into a sweet girl, listening to her ideas for games and her stories. I love hearing her thoughts and being asked by her to do things together. There is just something so sweet about individual relationships with each of my kids. Before I had two, I worried I'd get along with one better or feel more bonded to one over the other, but the reality is I have so much love for both of them that sometimes it overwhelms me. I see the girl Luca is slowly blooming into, and I love that girl, but I also really, genuinenly like her. She's smart and creative and imaginative. She's kind and tender and loving and just the right amount of sassy. And she loves spending special time with her mama and doing things that are ours and ours alone. And I love her even more for that.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

That's Life.

This week was not a banner week for me in terms of WW. I did well with the eating and exercise, but sort of blew it all by going out to mexican food with friends who were in town for the week.

Here's how I dealt with that: I ordered a skinny (125 calorie) margarita and chicken street tacos (under 500 calories). And I ate chips. And, I went to the meeting today knowing I was probably going to see a gain. And I did. And you know what? I am ok with it. As my meeting leader said to me today, "That # isn't the truth. Your week was the truth." And my week was something I was pretty proud of. For this to be a lifestyle for me, I have to be able to splurge on mexican food and a margarita and not stress over it showing on the scale.

Look, everyone wants to get on the scale and see a smaller number every week. I'm no different. But I also am willing to accept that life happens and I'm not going to give up a night out with friends for a smaller number in the morning. Also, I'm proud of the dinner choice I made. In the past, I would have ordered up a bean burrito with a side of sour cream and a normal margarita and eaten endless chips. Was I a dietician's dream? No way. Was I a healthier version of me? Yep.


For workouts, I've been mixing up netflix DVDs that you can get with just a streaming membership. It costs me something like $7/month and I watch 4-5 a week, which is close enough to free for me. I mix up boot camp, pilates, yoga, dance/salsa/zumba style, and general cardio workouts. There are some days when I've worked out the night before and wake up feeling it in my legs and glutes and abs and shoulders. And there are other mornings when, the night before I got super sweaty and I wake up in the morning not even feeling it and wondering whether or not it was worth it. It's always worth it. I might wake up tomorrow and wish I'd said no to pretzel M&Ms, but I know for a fact I won't wake up tomorrow and regret the workout I did tonight.


On a different note, I've had several moments this year when I've done something kind for someone and been the recipient of random acts of kindness in return. Like the time I bought the coffee and donut for the guy behind me in the Dunkin drive through, and a week later the man in front of me bought my coffee at Circle K. I don't do it for the reward. Or the praise. Or the hope that someone will 'get me back' for it. I do it because it's the kind of thing the person I strive to be would do. The person I strive to be would see the girl dressed in heels and a pencil skirt looking paranoid over her shoulder as she went into Circle K and a disheveled man followed her, and would go inside and offer that other girl a ride. The girl I want to be would hold open the door for the mom with a double stroller who's obviously stressed and struggling to get through as not 1 but THREE men stand behind her and wait impatiently for her to get out of their way. The person I hope I am would see a girl in line in front of her at the gas station have her card declined, then see that same girl and her young son sitting in the parking lot looking lost and would insist that she take $5 to get enough gas to get home.

But more than doing things because they are examples of the person I want to imagine myself into being, I do them because I want my kids to see. I want to be an example of how we treat others: with kindness and respect and humor and heart. I want them to know that it's ok to help someone you don't know who looks scared and in need. That it's kind to lend an able hand to someone struggling. That sometimes $5 to a mom whose car window is duct-taped up might make the difference in her week. And when I see the way my kids think and feel and process, I have a true glimmer of hope that it's working and paying off. I took them both to Goodwill yesterday in search of a bookshelf for their books. It was almost lunchtime and they were restless. And Goodwill is a haven for curious hands and wild toddlers. Maybe it was the novelty of having a weekday off with both kids, alone, but my patience was at a maximum and they were doing such an amazing job of listening to my 'rules'. As we headed down an aisle, a woman stopped me. "Mom," she said, "I like how you talk to those kids. And I can tell they have good parents because they are just so well-behaved. It makes this old lady so happy to see you young parents doing things right and raising up your kids with kindness." I almost cried. We talked for a few minutes and I thanked her from my heart for taking the 20 seconds it took to brighten my entire week.

Words have power. Kindness has power, and it grows exponentially.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Facing Reality.

I really, really thought I could lose weight if I was diligent about following Weight Watchers. I've never been a particularly unhealthy eater, but I tend to fall back on fast food and sweets when it's hot/I'm too tired to cook/I had a long day/I'm hungry NOW/I could really use something delicious to cap off a meal. So, naturally, I assumed that I could cut down on those fast food runs/late night freezer dives and the pounds would simply drop off.

That only worked for the first 4 pounds. Literally, changing my eating habits dropped 4 pounds immediately. Everything after that has come off slowly, through dedication and some self-discipline. We've all but 100% cut out fast food, opting only for the ocassional weekend run to McDonald's for breakfast or Kids' Night at Chick Fil A. And even when we do that, I'm eating the breakfast sandwich with no meat and with half the bread or a salad with grilled chicken and just a few stolen waffle fries. I've replaced my ice cream and cookies with Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches and smoothies made of fat free yogurt, ice, and fruit.

And still...the scale ever so painfully inches down by ounces.

Finally, I admitted to myself that I was either going to have to make another big change OR I was bound to give up, go back to eating whatever I want, and gain back what I'd lost plus a few bonus pounds. So, the big change came a few weeks ago when I bit the bullet and started working out again. It started as a little challenge with a good friend to help keep us accountable. I expected one or both of us would lose steam and next thing you know we'd probably find ourselves helping each other make excuses. In other words, I underestimated us.

I've done challenges before. I've tried to lose weight or exercise with friends before. And it never worked. Because there was never accountability and there was never honesty. AND I always felt like I didn't have to keep up my end of the bargain because whomever I was challenging was in it to win it, not in it to be successful together. That's the key for me this time: we're challenging each other to succeed together, not so someone can win.

In the past 3 weeks, I've worked out 3-5 times a week. It's not easy. It's not always fun. The other night I tried my best to keep up with some insane Netflix streaming version of zumba that was so fast-paced and complex I ended up frustrated and almost crying. I sweat a lot. Sometimes, I catch site of my reflection in the back door window and I am embarassed with myself. I have to work out late at night, and I end up compromising my sleep for the workout, which probably has its own set of potential problems. Some nights, I would rather go to bed early and read than get up off the couch after everyone else is tucked in and snoozing.

But I do it. I get up and make a fool of myself in front of no one but me and the ladies on TV. I sweat. I curse when I can't keep up. I feel it the next day in my glutes or my thighs or my abs or my arms. I report back to my friend, telling her what I loved and hated about the workout for the night and deciding whether to keep the DVD in my queue or give it zero stars.

And the next night, I do it again.

Last weekend, over the 4th of July, our TV sat in our garage and our stove sat in our backyard waiting to be replaced by a new stove. We went out for almost every meal. I didn't do a single workout. I did, however, spend hours a day sweating and installing flooring. And still, by the time Wednesday's WI came around, I expected a maintain or a gain. I was ok with either, knowing I hadn't stayed on track and I hadn't followed plan. But I HAD worked out 4 times throughout the week, and loss or no loss I was counting that as a success.

I lost almost a pound last week. And you know what? I was happy. I feel motivated to keep going, and optimistic to weigh in this week. And despite my natural inclination toward laziness, I'm willing to admit that my husband (and you, anonymous) was right and exercise might really have been the missing piece to my weight loss puzzle.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

This is How We Do It.

After a long 3-day weekend of work around the house last week, we started Saturday off by tearing out our old sliding glass door and replacing it with french doors.

They look amazing. But it was 108 with almost 40% humidity that day, and it took 6 hours to get the job done.

That same day, my mom showed up with the beauty above: a 15' wide by 42" deep above ground pool. It's no diving pool, true, but it was heaven to my tired and sweaty body last night. It took awhile to get it set up, since it required assembly and pre-leveling of the ground first, as well as sand put in a thin layer on the ground to help level and cushion it. Not to mention, it's going to take something like 10 hours to get it full all the way to the top. But none of that mattered, because after splashing in about 6 inches of water before bed last night, the kids were up at 5:30 this morning begging to swim. We spent hours today in this pool, the kids getting their water legs and splashing and giggling and Darrick and I just enjoying our very own watering hole.

In my dream world, we'd have an in-ground pool with a baja step and a waterfall and a diving board. But in real life, this pool is pretty sweet and it was worth every single drop of sweat that went into assembling it just to see my kids so happy. As a bonus, my mom bought it for more than half off the regular retail price because it was on clearance at Big Lots (local discount store).

I can't wait to sink into this baby after work tomorrow!

The pool fills to 42", but we didn't fill it all the way to the top. With it filled where it is now, both Luca and Rohan can stand and walk on their own without assistance. We're going to leave it there until they both get a little more sure-footed.

In the meantime, it's noodles and rings and practice blowing bubbles.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Unplanned Benefits.

Our floors aren't done. We're on hiatus during the work week, but hope to finish the floors and put in our new door this weekend. But that's won't stop Luca from embracing the change. Her new love is changing into dance clothes in the morning because, in her words, "It's like ballet class in here!"

Every little girl needs a tutu, sparkly shoes, and a daddy who can help her spin.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Eyes in a Time of Blindness

I stole this from Dooce. I can't stop watching it. One of my favorite U2 songs ever, plus an amazing example of awesome heart.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Pretty Doors.

We're still knee-deep in flooring renovation, but the finish line is getting closer and closer. And since we already bit the bullet and invested in new flooring, we decided it was high time to check another item off our 'dream list' for the house (yes, there really IS one of those, on our fridge) and buy french doors to replace our old slider. To keep costs down, we got the kind that are primed and have to be installed by us.

I've been dreaming of painting the interior side a pretty color that would bring some more variety into our rooms. The great room, where the door is housed, is a very soft yellow by Behr called Social Butterfly:

The walls in the kitchen/dining area are Behr's Eucalyptus Leaf:

I wanted to pull a green into the room, but I'm not sure which direction to go with it. Something apple or lime, but not too dark and not too vivid. I also find myself drawn to these bluey-greens, so for inspiration I gathered some pictures:

Benjamin Moore Vienna Green from here.

From here.

No idea what color this is, but I like it. From here

Not sure what color this is either. From here.

Not sure what color this is, from here.

Technically a cabinet color, but would work for a door. From here.

Cooking Apple Green by Farrow & Ball, found here.

Cooking Apple Green seen on a door here.

The doors will probably go in next weekend, so I've definitely got some time to make a decision. And convince my hubby.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Through Hell to Get to Heaven.

If there's one thing you can say about Darrick and I, it's that we sure know how to celebrate time off together. Last fall, I took the week of his fall break off and we ripped out our saltillo tile and refinished the concrete.

The big problem here? The sales person who helped us pick the finish for our floors advised that we get a product we pretty much ended up hating. I mean, it looked pretty fresh and light and breezy when we first did it, but there were some serious issues here. First, the product we were sold to fill in holes and divits was useless. Rather than filling them flush with the floor's surface, it created 'bubbles' inside the holes that looked super tacky. Second, the surface of this floor is not dog-and-kid friendly. Dirt gets on it and never seems to come off of it. Nothing short of scouring it on hands and knees with soap and a scrub brush will lift the dirt, and who has time for that? Third, without something on top of the concrete, the baseboards didn't fit back in place right, meaning we never finished freshining them up and re-attaching them to the walls.

So, in short, we have: uneven floor with weird holes in it that are filled with bubbles, dirt that won't ever be fully removed, and missing baseboards. Nice, right?

We decided this 3 day weekend was our perfect opportunity to go up north and get out of the heat. And then, we got sidetracked and ended up cancelling our hotel reservations and spending 7 hours today installing laminate flooring in our kitchen. It took much longer than we'd expected and was tedious and tiring, but the kitchen floor looks so good you could kiss it! At some point today, we had to run to Home Depot to get a tool to help us install the edges and corners, and decided on a whim to buy MORE flooring so we can extend this into the dining room this weekend, and eventually into the great room as well. In my perfect world, our front room (aka the catch-all play/exercise room) will get done at some point too, but probably not for awhile.

It's not how everyone would spend their weekend, but once you see the pictures I think you'll understand why I'm more than happy to spend ours installing floors.

For now, a sneak peek:

Did I mention it was 118 today in Chandler, and we sweated our butts off?

We made a decision today, too, to not put the shitty old stove back in there. Since we had to pull it out all the way to get in the floors, and since it is completely crappy, we're kicking it to the curb and buying a new stove in a stainless finish. We eat at home far more than we used to these days partly because of cost, partly because of health, and partly because Rohan acts like one of those kids in restaurants most of the time. So a new stove is a non-negotiable.

I'll have a ton more pictures to share soon!

A Very Special Customed Lunch Just for Me and Only Me.

It's no secret that Luca is not a big eater. In fact, it would be fair to say she's a horrible eater. Her appetite is small, she is picky, and she would rather do almost anything more than eating.

Several months ago, Darrick and I really started working on changing the way we eat and feed our family. It's not just about what foods we choose, but about our attitudes in general. He has a chip on his shoulder about dairy products, for example, insisting on whole fat products instead of reduced or non-fat. I am super picky and love sweets. We're not perfect, but we decided to start working together to find ways to get more healthy food in our bellies and more positive interactions around meals: shopping with the kids and talking about why we eat certain foods, prepping dinner as a family, letting the kids make their own sandwiches, etc. But one elephant in the room was Luca and her tiny appetite.

Luca is a healthy kid. She is smart and strong and loves healthy foods. But she also loves junk food and doesn't eat much quantity of food, meaning it's really easy to get through an entire day with her and realize she's barely eaten from 3 of the 4 main food groups. We've struggled to get her to eat healthy foods in enough quantity to get her nutrients that she needs, and we have struggled even more over how much we should push her. Like a typical toddler, when we push she pulls, and it never ends well.

So we decided on a new approach. No repeatedly asking her to eat. No nudging her to finish her plate. If she refuses a meal, that's fine; she can eat something healthy later when she says she's hungry. And if meals aren't working, we move to healthy smaller items, like half an apple with some peanut butter and a low-fat string cheese or some slices of turkey and a yogurt. It's not ideal, and it drives my husband more batty than it drives me, but we're conscious of not wanting to make food an issue with her, and so far this method is working.

Most successful? Giving her some options of healthy foods she loves and can eat in smaller quantities. Less of a 'meal' as our generation knows it and more of a healthy plate of foods she can eat and will enjoy, and which will give her the things she needs.

The other night, I gave her some options for dinner, and she ended up with this meal. She not only ate the whole thing, she asked for more. She was so proud of her meal she kept calling it her "Very Special Customed Lunch Just for Me and Only Me." In the end, she ate about 2 oz of hummus, a tbsp of peanut butter, 1.5 pitas (amazing for her, since she's not a bread lover), 8 baby carrots, and a handful of blueberries.

The real winner here was the pita cut out to make the letters of her name. She LOVED them, so I'll definitely try to find ways to incorporate more fun into her fuel in the future.

Friday, July 1, 2011


My new nephew arrived last night at 9:16 p.m. He's absolutely perfect, and everyone is 110% smitten.

Patrick Robert:


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