Simple Sunday-Getting it together

The last few weeks have been those kind of weeks.  You know, the ones where you are barely hanging on to the day-to-day maintenance of the house, feeding your family and keeping your sanity? I can’t even say why really.  I know that I always get a little thrown off when there is a big event ( I think this build up then difficult-to-rejoin-life-again habit runs in the family).

It was Collin’s birthday at the beginning of the month and his amazing Auntie Mandy and soon-to-be Uncle Jon came to stay with us.  I was a little thrown by the immense amount of clean up, shopping/meal planning and new-found viruses that descended in the week following.  All in all though it wasn’t that bad.

I guess if I had to place blame on my lack of organization these last few weeks it would be on my lazy and wonderful choice to just not care for a while.  To laugh with my newly two-year-old son and ever so supporting husband.  To not judge myself because I come home too tired at the end of a long day to write an inspiring and thoughtful blog post (though I swear they are up there…floating around somewhere).

The benefit has been that I have found that burning bright in Collin’s eyes is a new light.  It is as if the spirit that was in him from birth is just now exploding out of him.  The jolly head bops that always accompanied any musical interlude have now given way to full-fledged dance moves (seriously I swear he choreographs this stuff!) He is just more HIM than he ever has been and I have been relishing getting to know him these last weeks.

In honor of keeping it simple this Sunday I am now working on ways of organizing my life so that I am able to get done what I need to do, what is most important to me and what keeps the rhythm of the family humming along.  While leaving time to continue to rediscover my son everyday (and maybe my husband too if we’re lucky) First off for me was to simplify my meal planning.

We have been eating a mainly vegetarian, sometimes vegan, locally grown, as-whole-foods-as-possible-due-to-time-and-financial-constraints diet for a while now and we really have been putting more effort into it since the beginning of the  year.  This has been great fun, but planning a menu can take me two hours and it is complicated to try out new recipes in the hour I have between arriving home and putting dinner on the table.  To that end I have mocked up a simple meal plan, dinners only, to help me keep a rhythm without getting boring.  I was inspired by the “Organize your whole life” series that has just started over at Modern Parents Messy Kids (great site, btw!). Through them I found this great post that was right up my ally, this is the main template I used to make my own meal plan (minus the shopping list on the side, I use my phone for this). This organizing thing is not my forte and I’ll never claim it to be.  I just want to figure out a plan that works for us!

Any advice? What has worked for you? How do you decide what needs organization and where you should just simply get rid of!?!

Thanks for reading! Happy Simple Sunday 🙂

On eating (or not eating)

As a teacher B.C. (before Collin) the number one question I got from parents was regarding food. “Does he eat enough?”, “How do I get him to eat more vegetables?”, “She just won’t sit at the table at home, how do you get her to do it here?”
For many parents it seems to be a constant worry or at least a preoccupation. Well lets all just take a collective deep breath and relax. It’s not up to you. It is up to your child. As with many things now and in the future your child must develop his own likes, dislikes and I-will-eat-if-very-very-hungry-and-nothing-else-is-around’s.
For the most part there seem to be three camps of feeding styles:
1. The “they are small so as long as they’re eating I don’t care what goes into their body” camp
2. The “I know they like these three healthy things” so I feed them everyday…all day…a few times a day.
3. The “I know what is healthy and that is all I will fix my child regardless of their interests or developmental ability to chew such things”

When we had Collin I knew I wanted to find a healthy medium between all three. In the first few months of his life he suffered some major digestive issues (requiring surgery and hospitalization, more on that in another post).  Following this I had a heck of a time keeping up a decent supply of breastmilk and honestly by the time he was ready to eat I couldn’t wait to replace man-made-chemical-laden formula with whole, real, nutritious food.  I read a lot, basically ignored the advice of my doctor (start him on rice cereal at four months? ) and used my knowledge of development to structure his new world of food.

So just how did we build a toddler who will try anything, eats most things and prefers broccoli over pizza (most of the time anyway)?

In regards to what we fed Collin we decided early on we only wanted to feed him whole, real food.  We tried rice cereal once, he hated it, we never looked back.  His first foods were banana, avocado, and sweet potatoes.  I really loved the book Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron. We basically followed her food introduction schedule when Collin was in infant.  I made all of his food and used this book as a guideline.  (I did this while working full time, it’s really easy and so much cheaper!)  Also helpful were the charts that showed vitamin contents of many fruits and veggies making it easy to combine for a well balanced diet.  We also started fairly early with plain, organic, whole milk yogurt.  Due to the trials his poor tummy had gone through so early, breastfeeding, not eating for two weeks, breastfeeding, switching to formula and loads and loads of antibiotics we felt the probiotics were important to repopulate his delicate system.

As far as the culture we are trying to build around food in our family we stuck to three basic rules and have remained (mostly) consistent from his first bite until now.
First, he will be invited to participate in cooking, mixing and making his meal.  During the process he can smoosh, chew, poke or otherwise investigate the food (as safety allows)
Second, we watched for “I’m done signals” we never pushed a last bite or even a first (even though it can be painfully difficult to throw away lovingly prepared food that you just know they’d like if they would only try! That was my issue not his) As he has grown we have encouraged self feeding.  On occasion he will take two bites and be done.  Oh well, there is another meal/snack around the bend right?
Third, What is on the table is the meal.  No bouncing from fridge to table trying to find things he will eat.  We offer a variety of choices at each meal and let him decide how much or even if he wants to eat.  Finally, we have always tried to make mealtimes fun, engaging and exploratory. Just as during cooking he make poke, chew, even spit out food.

Letting your child learn about and explore food the way they learn about everything else will help them come to be adventurous eaters.  Enjoyable low stress meal time with clear boundaries help keep kids clear about what we have control over and what they have control over.  Only a child has control of what they eat.  They are born with an intuitive understanding of what their body needs, all we need to do is step out of the way.  Trying too hard turns meals into a power struggle and can begin a lifetime of emotionally driven or otherwise out of balance eating.  Healthy eating for a baby