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Mission Impossible: Eating Healthy Foods

healthier-eatingAs a busy mom of young twin girls, I struggle (as we all do) with getting my kids to eat healthier foods. Allie and Kristy are typical four year olds with demanding personalities and picky eating habits.

Allie only wants to eat white foods: breads, pastas, and cheeses (not yellow cheese, don’t you dare offer her yellow cheese). Anything that might be meat is grounds for immediate regurgitation, and fruits and veggies must be bananas, prunes (of all things), or snap peas only. Kristy will eat meat provided that it’s meatballs or ham, no substitutions (FYI meatloaf is unacceptable, don’t bother explaining that it’s just a big meatball shaped like a football), and will eat carrots when pressed but only if they’ve been buried under ranch dressing or ketchup. What’s really weird is that both of them will eat almost any type of oatmeal.

Desperate to get something nutritious in their bellies, and frustrated beyond belief, I instituted two rules for mealtime which my friend runs the Nutritionist Advisor suggested.

Rule #1

First, you must take a “no, thank you” bite. One bite. That’s all I’m asking. Take one bite, then if you don’t like it, I won’t make you eat anymore. If you like it, I will do a happy mommy dance all over the kitchen. It is worth noting that after months of this rule, not one food has gotten a second taste from either one of them. I can’t decide if that’s win or lose. Win: they are trying new foods. Lose: they haven’t actually enjoyed any of them. I guess it’s a wash.

Rule #2

The second rule is “never yuck someone else’s yum.” That means they aren’t allowed to say something tastes terrible, or is yucky or anything negative because it makes the other people at the table who enjoy the food (and possibly slaved over a hot stove to prepare it) feel bad. If you don’t like your “no, thank you” bite, say “no, thank you” and that’s it. It hasn’t been a big drama when they don’t like something, no faces or hysterics, just “no, thank you” and then we move on.

The Results (Kiddos)

oscarSo mealtime improved, simply because the girls aren’t putting on Oscar-worthy performances every night, but their actual food intake was the same. The next step was radical snack policy modification. I confess, I am sometimes too permissive with snacks, especially if I’m trying to buy time because dinner is late or some other life obstacle is competing with a proper eating habits. So I put a strict snack schedule into effect and refused to let them snack off-schedule which helped them to be hungry at meal time, but still, I couldn’t get more than the smallest sampling of veggies into their mouths.

Then, while trying to get dinner on the table (late, of course) the girls were complaining that they were hungry. My husband, who was busy making salad (for us, obviously, the kids weren’t going to eat it), threw a pile of green pepper strips, and celery and carrot sticks on a plate with some hummus and said they could eat that or wait until dinner… and they did. It was like bird-watching. My husband and I were afraid to move or draw attention for fear we might spook them and never duplicate this experiment again.

Allie ate carrots and celery (no hummus, but still totally a win) and Kristy had a bit of everything including finger-fulls of straight hummus. We’ll work on the “no double dipping” rule another time. Whether it was the lack of other options that day or the phase of the moon, I don’t know, but for a moment, there was progress. I don’t plan on quitting my day job to get into pediatric nutrition or anything, but I have to say, I was a bit proud of myself tackling this issue head-on and the results that followed.

The Results (Mom & Dad)

2019 Update:  We’re still on the healthy eating bandwagon and now dear hubby and I have unintentionally revamped our diets. I’m not going to disclose our weights but hubby had lost more than 20 pounds in a year and almost 15 for me. I have a high school reunion coming up so I’m determined to lose the last 10 or so pounds in the next six months. I was given a $100 gift certificate to JCPenney Salon for my last birthday (normally I can’t afford their prices) and I plan to cash it in this summer right before the reunion.  I could definitely use a new hair style and what better time to show it off than at the reunion. To hold myself even more accountable, I told my friends I’ll be posting a pic of myself on this blog in a few months. Hopefully I’ll be at my target weight by then with a fresh new hairdo.


Learning to Swim!

swim-lessonsThe girls had their first swimming lesson yesterday. I’ve been putting it off – most of the classes were parent/child classes, and there’s two of them and one of me! But they’re four now, and I really want them to learn to swim. Allie was excited, but Kristy is pretty afraid of water. I found a class that would let me stay on the deck with them, which is the only way I got Kristy in the door.

Kristy wouldn’t leave my side. The teachers came over and tried to coax her in, but she just refused. I said she could sit with me for a little while and try when she was ready. Allie though, is going to be the death of me. I was glad she had her Puddle Jumper swim vest on (read a good Puddle Jumper review here), because that little monkey went flying towards the edge of the pool so fast that she fell right in! And loved it! I was pretty impressed with the teachers though – they jumped right in after her, and then sat the whole class down to listen to the pool rules. Obviously, no running was first on the list! Allie was beet red, but still grinning.

They started the class off with having the kids get used to getting their faces wet. I asked Kristy if she wanted to try and she started to cry. I showed her how the Puddle Jumpers kept everyone floating, and how the teachers were right there, but she was still scared. The teacher said I could come down to the edge of the pool with her, so we moved over and dipped our toes in.

puddle-jumperAllie absolutely loved it. Apparently instead of calling her Monkey now I should just call her Fishie! All of the kids were laughing and splashing around. One of them splashed us right in the face, but Kristy just laughed! The teacher came over and asked if she would come in now, and she said she would. Phew. She was still scared and kept looking up at me, but I just gave her a thumbs up and the teacher helped her through it. And of course, after all that trouble getting her in, she wasn’t ready to get out when class was over!

It’s so hard watching them conquer their fears. I’m so proud of Kristy though, she was scared, but she did it! And of course, I am forever in awe of my little fearless Allie. Nothing fazes her. It’s amazing to me how two little girls that look so much alike can be so entirely different.

Now they’re begging me to fill up the tub so they can practice swimming. I have a feeling baths are going to be much longer and wetter than they were before! I can’t wait for summer now. I’m hoping they’ll be confident enough in the water that I can take them into the pool alone (in the shallow end of course!) or even go boating as a family. That said, we might have to invest in some full life jackets since the learn-to-swim vests have limits. Seems like the best reviewed life jackets for little kids are made by Stohlquist… a bit pricey but worth it. I’m excited to see how they do next week – think Kristy will get right in this time? (No, me either! But hopefully it will be easier for her.)

Allie’s Guardian Angel – A trip to the ER

Emergency Room SignWhat an awful experience!  Scariest weekend  Jim and I ever had to encounter since the twins were born four years ago.  I remember Jim wanting boys when we first found out we were pregnant with multiples but secretly I was glad they were girls because I knew that they would be easier and gentler when playing.  Turns out I was wrong though, as Allie and Kristy are both showing tomboy tendencies and Allie is definitely the more adventurous leader.  She climbs on furniture and jumps off, giving me a heart attack a couple times a day. Strong discipline had been implemented with both of them and it seemed to be working as she was getting better  until yesterday.

Allie and Kristy know they are not allowed into our bedroom to play but when I was pouring coffee yesterday morning I heard the absolute worst crash and ran to find Allie screaming and blood on the side of her shirt.  My tall dresser was tipped on the floor at an angle and a bottle of perfume was spilled on the floor.   Kristy was crying in the doorway.    I scooped up Allie and noticed a huge gash behind her left ear and I was in shock as I saw her white skull exposed.   Jim was working so I grabbed a towel from the bathroom and applied pressure with one hand while calling 911 with the other hand.  Rushed to the hospital after an ambulance ride I hardly remember with Kristy in my lap and Allie on the gurney.

After a quick cat scan, it was apparent that the corner of the dresser had just scraped her head and there was no internal injury.  They took her back to the OR and put her to sleep to stitch her head up with  12 stitches.  The realization hit me hard then that my twins would forever be distinguishable if you knew where to look.  Thankfully, her hair will cover the stitch location in time but all I can say right now is that she surely had a guardian angel looking out for her because it could have been a lot worse for her.   We stayed overnight but all is going to be okay.  First trip in four years to the E.R. and I hope we do not have to go again any time soon.

The best toys are for outdoor use

toy-tractorKids really need more exercise these days. You will discover way too many obese children around which can affect their health and well being. So, just how can we get little ones to get away from the video games and TVs and go and play out of the house in the sun. The answer is to have a few fun outdoor toys they can enjoy.

How It Was

Growing up, I remember all the fun times I had playing with several of my most loved toys. We had an inflatable swimming pool in the back yard and we enjoyed splashing around in the summer. Too bad we couldn’t put our new air hose reel and air compressor to use back then to quickly inflate it. Even in the chilly weather we were outside having fun with our action toys including He-Man, G.I. Joe, Transformers as well as others. We used to pretend to have war games and have them in the sandpit. My brother and I in addition enjoyed playing on our swing set. Those days, we were rarely indoors.

How It Is

The fact is right now, video games have taken over from the good old-fashioned fun many of us used to have. I was constantly shooing my seven year old son outside to have fun, but I knew he actually would prefer to be indoors having fun with his latest electronic gadget. That’s why I became so delighted after my nephew became really interested in this new Razor 360 three wheeler tricycle. So when he asked for a bike for his birthday, I took advantage of the opportunity. This fast little bike has changed his playing behavior instantly. I’m hearing that these days it is hard to get him inside at all!

One of our twins is somewhat more of a creative person. Much like I experiment with ingredients to attempt to make the world’s best tasting protein shake, she likes to try to make jewelry out of all sorts of different string and beads. Her latest passion is referred to as the Klutz Mini Capsters Jewelry kit and she makes some truly pretty necklaces and rings with it. Still, even she can be tempted outside on a sunny day for a ride on her bike.

Important note about safety:  While it may seem like most accidents involving children happen outside the home, some of the most tragic occur indoors. In the news lately have been more and more instances of kids getting their hands on firearms due to irresponsible gun owners not keeping them properly secured. It’s crucial to always keep guns locked up and away from the curiosity and/or boredom of children. Make sure you get the best gun safe you are able to afford. My husband is a hunter and a safety nut so he probably went a bit overboard with his but that’s ok.

It is necessary for kids to have some balance within their lives. Possessing a good mix of indoor and outdoor toys means that they will obtain the exercise they need and also the mental stimulation required to learn and grow. You can find new toys being released regularly and it is often confusing to know the ones that are best for your son or daughter. I’ve found it is best to purchase my kid’s toys online since I can read through reviews that some other moms and dads have written so as to make a much more informed choice. It normally ends up costing less as well.