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Tag Archives: preschool

Regrouping

Much has changed since the last time I posted on here.  We have all grown in numbers, size (and maybe a couple of pounds).  The babe has begun her official academic career in kindergarten, her brother continues on to third grade, a German shepherd puppy has joined the family and while we continue to reside in NOVA, we have reentered the world of home ownership.  Everyone is happy, healthy and excited about the prospect of new adventures.

Myself, I am attempting to navigate this new world of an empty nest as a stay-at-home mom. It is bittersweet as it means the kids are growing up (too fast) but it allows much more time to devote to this business of nutrition.  I can focus more on all the fun and interesting aspects that involve food, eating, behavior and the science behind it.

Good stuff is coming folks, please stay tuned…..

 

Digging for Gold

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There are so many food “rules” floating around out there that I try not to aggressively restrict the family in obeying many of them.  Instead, I like to make goals, better eating habits that are not necessarily limiting, but expanding on all of the healthful choices that are available.  One major goal that our family has is to consume as many locally or regionally sourced foods as our budget allows.  We are BIG fans of the farmers market.   Virginia has been very kind to us in this arena.  There are so many markets, bakeries and dairies to choose from and utilize.  I am in local food heaven.  This is a far cry from our home state of Florida in regards to variety and availability of truly local foods.  This past week we decided to pay a visit to one of the local farms for some down and dirty potato picking.  Great Country Farms in Bluemont, VA was hosting their annual Big Dig festival.  The kids had a blast foraging for Yukon Golds and (what appeared to be) Idaho Reds.  Tim was even able to pick some green beans in the neighboring field.  The picking part was short-lived though, we had to pace ourselves otherwise we would have ended up with 50 pounds of potatoes for our little family of four.  At the end of the day we had a great adventure, playing on the farm, visiting the animals and bringing home about 15 pounds of potatoes for our future dining pleasure.

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The kids on the hunt.  AJ was so excited, he brought his own shovel.

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Returning from the fields, hot, happy and covered in dirt.

Lunch Box Fun

The school year is upon us, today is AJ’s first day of school.  This year is a big one for us, the Babe is beginning to go to preschool and AJ is starting kindergarten.  Like every other parent who has gone through this and will go through it in the future, life is just happening too fast.  The kids are so excited to start at their respective schools, meet new friends and teachers, play and learn all day long.  But you know what I am most excited about, school lunch.  Yep, I have thoroughly enjoyed shopping for all of the fun food to pack in the kids lunches, letting AJ pick out what he would like to eat and planning on what to fill their little bellies so that they will be at their very best for the school day.  Hopefully the task will still be as appealing a couple of months into the school year, because we are at the beginning of this game.   It is a fun challenge to figure out that fine balance between what they will definitely eat and  what is yummy and good for them.  The plan is to utilize some prepackaged “kid” food along with fresher foods and beverages, cover most if not all of the food groups and make sure they are getting enough protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats.  So today when I let AJ choose what he wanted in his very first kindergarten lunch, he more than eagerly started rattling off a list of his favorites to but in his brand new shiny lunch box (there is NO question whose child he is).   He selected whole wheat crackers, natural peanut butter to dip them in, two Baby Bell mozzarella cheese rounds, two clementines, water and a juice box.  There is just something so appealing to kids about miniature foods that seem to be just their size.  We talked about washing our hands before we eat, his ability to open any of the packages on his own (and in retrospect, we should of discussed not sharing- in case of allergies).  All in all, I think he is more than prepared for a successful first big kid lunch in a real school cafeteria.

Let’s just hope he eats it.

Keeping Your Kool

In every relationship there are disagreements on how to manage your household.  As the person who does the shopping, prepares the meals, and oh gee, has the most knowledge of food in the house, I like to have control of the kitchen and what foods enter our home.  But there is one item I cannot shake.  The tropical punch Kool-Aid.  My husband has this deep-seeded need to have the occasional glass of the red-dyed, sugar-filled beverage.  I was cool with the idea when AJ was little, but now both of the kids want to join in on the artificial fun.  The list of forbidden foods for our home is pretty short and artificial food coloring tops it.  We have even weeded it out of medicines, vitamins and toothpaste.  There is definitely a difference in AJ’s behavior when he eats foods that contain the dye.  When we are visiting friends and family, I am not so strict and allow them to partake in what their peers do, but I have done very good job of keeping it out of our home.  Except for that Kool-Aid.

So the dilemma is the different viewpoints of my husband and I.  He perceives it in a manner similar to the beer and wine we have in the house.  That it is off limits to the kids.  While I think that since they are growing older, we need to set a good example and not drink it ourselves.  The problem with his viewpoint is that it is not really off-limits because whenever he has a glass and they are around, they seem to always partake in the sweet-red potion.  To be fair, my methodology prevents the kids from participating in a lesson in moderation and self-control.   So who is right?  Clearly at this present time, it is not a disagreement that I am winning.  I am not giving up though, the debate will continue every time the container of the fake juice runs out.

These Times, They Are a Changing

May and June have been a crazy couple of months for the McGrew family.  My husband, Tim graduated from the MBA program at William and Mary, AJ graduated from preschool, we have had tons of family visiting and most recently our family has relocated to Alexandria, VA.  It is just a few hours north of our happy home in Williamsburg, but it is like living in a totally different universe.  While my husband and I are excited about all of the great things our new city has to offer, the Babe and her brother are not quite as enthused.  We are trying our best to make a smooth transition as possible for them, getting the house together, visiting the new school, joining a pool, but it is still definitely challenging at times.  While AJ is really just moody, the Babe is trying her best to take control over every aspect of her world that she can.  Truthfully, I am not sure if it is the move or her setting a prime example of the terrible two’s.  Most likely it is a combination of both.  The most frustrating thing is that she has decided to demonstrate her power over her food.  As every parent knows, you cannot force your child to eat, and it appears that the Babe has figured that out too.  We all know how it goes, making progress (in any aspect of child development) and then BOOM!, back to square one.  She had been doing so well, sharing meals with us as a family, eating most of what she was given.  Now who knows where her mood will take her, there are some meals where she literally will take one bite.

So what’s the game plan?  We are sticking by our guns and still starting with the same foods that the rest of the family is eating at the meal. On average, she is initially refusing the meal about 90% of the time.  At that point one of two things will happen (after sufficient time has passed for her to debate about it and for us to at least eat something).  We will A. bribe her with small pieces of a coveted snack (currently pretzels) for taking bites of her dinner.  Or B. offer her other nutrient-dense,  easily prepared foods (cheese, PB & J, fruit, etc.).  Now you may not agree with these tactics, but in our house they are not permanent and our goal is to get her to eat the dinner or something substantial.  Dinner is really the picky time around here for both the Babe and AJ, mainly because it is the one meal where they do not get to choose the main course.  It is the meal where we push them to try new foods and new ways to prepare familiar foods.  At breakfast and lunch, they are given several options for what they would like to eat, so those meals are usually met with minimal resistance.  Just as we have done before, we are going to stick with it, try not to get frustrated and just keep moving along until this phase is over.  We have to remember the big picture, that as long as she is healthy, growing sufficiently and happy it really won’t matter that for a month or so she had to eat a piece of pretzel between every few bites to motivate her.  This too shall pass.

All in the Family

Family influence, where do you draw the line? Let’s face it, just because you are in the same gene pool does not mean you share the same beliefs about food and feeding your children.
This topic has been very much on my mind lately as we have been visiting various family members over the past week. (As I write this I am sitting at my parents’ dining room table). How our parents/families have influenced our eating behaviors is a whole other topic for another day. Lets just focus on the present situation, or should I say temptations. To be fair, the purpose of this visit was to attend our annual “family renunion” at Mardi Gras (Mobile, AL not New Orleans). So by definition it is a time of gluttony. I tried to do my best to bring some of our staples that would not be easily available such as milk, fruit, breakfast food where the first ingredient was not sugar. Would you believe I devoted half a suitcase to this?
Basically, my strategy is to at least provide some balance to what the kids are getting every day. I am not the type of parent to tell the well-meaning in-laws they can’t share their treats with the kids. The situation is temporary and no one wins if I say no. My hope is that this is a lesson in moderation for the Babe and AJ. What better example than to see all the excesses available, be allowed to choose some all while still having healthful foods at the same time. It usually went something like this, “Sure you can have some chips, but you need to have a cheese stick and some fruit too.” Or, “Ok, you can eat that cookie with some milk (low fat and plain)”.
Now when it is your own parents, it can be much easier to be more outspoken about your desires. (This is possibly due to your argumentative skills you have been perfecting since middle school, or that may be just me). Ironically, my mother falls at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. She should be the spokeswoman for fruits and vegetables. I have to to be very diligent in reminding her that it was necessary to offer the higher calorie foods first to her petite granddaughter. While she did not necessarily agree that it was okay if the Babe did not have fruit with her lunch, she did comply.
The point is, know your limits and pick your battles. Short of food allergies and intolerances, I believe it is much easier and beneficial to relax a little on the food “rules”. Try to remember that all parties involved love your kids and just want them to be healthy and happy.

Battle Hymn of the Picky Eater

How many of you have been there? You prepare this nice meal, absolutely positive it is kid friendly, only to have it immediately rejected by your toddler within seconds of putting it on their plate. This has been my kids’ MO since they both were around 12 months old.
Initially, my son AJ’s stand was against any food that was once living and walked, swam or flew around the earth. I know this is not an issue for all, but he was on the smaller side and I was still concerned with his protein intake as well as other vitamin and minerals. That boy could have consisted on yogurt, bread and fruit alone. The Babe on the other hand, she definitely has a more diverse palate. She is intrigued by a wide variety of flavors and foods. You can generally count on her to at least take that first bite to try the new food. But that is where it ends, food seems to be for tasting purposes only. (Really, I should be thankful for this, tasting is half the battle). In the Babe’s case, I suspect teething is the culprit for her lack of appetite. Her pickiness is definitely heightened when there are ANY teeth breaking through. There are no favorites, no go-to foods that she will always eat. Dining is totally at her whim and often times she just has zero interest. My two children, textbook examples of the common eating behavior termed “food jags”. AJ demonstrates the classic desire to eat the same foods time and time again, while the Babe often refuses to eat at all, shoving aside foods that she has devoured in the past.
So there it is. Picky eating has been, by far, my one of my greatest challenges as a parent. Mostly because it drives me INSANE. There is all that wasted time, effort and food, but I continue to work at it. I am proud to report that after many years of relentlessly exposing AJ to new things and repeatedly trying them, at five years of age he now eats and enjoys foods from ALL the food groups. He still has picky tendencies but both he and the Babe’s diet and palate are continuing to expand.

Here are some tips for dealing with the picky eater in your life:
1. Stay calm.
2. Make sure they are hungry at mealtimes. (No snacking or giving filling beverages at
least 60-90 minutes before a meal).
3. Offer the new foods or foods you most want them to eat first.
4. Have minimal distractions.
5. Make it appealing (for a kid). Use fun shapes, colors, plates or silverware.
6. Eat together as a family, be a good role model.
7. Offer a variety of foods.
8. Don’t be a short-order cook. (This is especially true for older kids. With your
food-refusing toddler, I personally believe there is some grey area on this one).
9. Let them make decisions when possible. i.e. milk or water, peas or carrots, the Elmo or
Mickey Mouse plate
10. Try, try again. On average it takes 8-10 times for a child to grow accustomed to a
new food. It is not unheard of for it to take 20 plus time for this to occur. (See tip
number one).