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Chasing Babies... Growing in Grace: February 2008

Friday, February 29, 2008

Finally... nap time is here!

I didn't think I was going to make it to nap time! DS woke up about the same time we did (7 am this morning). Usually he will sleep until 8:30 or even 9, so this was way early. I imagine it is the balance of the other mornings sleeping in! I had him up and out of bed before 8 when Daddy left. That means we had a whole extra hour of morning to get through before nap time. It also means he was ready for a nap around 10:30! There was no way I was going for that. I can only imagine what this evening would be like (ok, I don't have to imagine... I just lived it!) We added in an extra snack this morning and played with some toys we don't get to play with very often... still he was pretty fussy. It was adorable though when he got his blanket from the crib and lay down on the floor sucking his fingers. Pathetic... but really cute! :)

I did manage to accomplish a few things this morning though. Dinner has pretty much been done since 9! One of the bonuses of DH leaving early is that I have more time to get things done (down side is the tiredness that starts earlier in the day). We are finally having that Beef Stroganoff I've been talking about (on my menu 2 weeks now ~ I've mentioned that flexibility is important right???) I'll try to get the recipe up some time! I got a couple pictures before DH came for the camera this morning (he's covering some event at his office today). I'll get the all-done pictures this evening if I can remember. :)

Off to accomplish some low energy projects! Hopefully DS will sleep good and long this afternoon!

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

On a happier note...

My little boy just informed me that he needed a new diaper! This is a first... and I'm swelling with delight over his new understanding and ability to communicate. Our Signing Time videos cover the sign for diaper and we've been working on it ourselves (since I turned the videos back in to the library), but I've never been able to tell if he gets it or not.

This morning DS was playing down the hall by the door to his room (I can see all the way down the hall from my desk). As I watched him, it looked like he was doing something like the sign for diaper and looking directly at me while he did it. He had a very "I'm telling you something" look in his eyes. So I asked him, "do you need a new diaper???" He turned and looked at his room, just like he does when I ask him that usually. So I said, "come here so mama can check"... and he did. And you know what... there was a not so fresh scent when he came near. He was very excited when I said "let's go change your diaper!" He ran right back to his room.

It's so fun to see our little ones grow and learn!

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Made me cry...

A friend sent me a link to this video on Infant/toddler drowning prevention. You should see it... it made me cry. If you have a pool, or are near any type of water (and even if you aren't) you should see if you can find this program in your area. It is so easy for our children to drown! I just keep thinking what it would be like if it were my child (thus the tears and sobbing!)


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Exhausted already... but so much to show for it!

Attention: If you are my husband, and today is your birthday... DON'T READ THIS POST!

Well... I am officially exhausted! I can't even believe how much I've done already today... and it's only 12:15. I just put the baby down for his nap (not that he's sleeping mind you, but he's down... well, in his crib in a darkened room anyway.)

I popped out of bed at 7:30 this morning (when the alarm went off). The alarm doesn't always trigger such a response, in fact, I had just climbed back in bed and snuggled up to DH for a minute when I realized I was hungry. How appreciative I am of hunger... it's one of the few things that makes it easy to get out of bed in the morning! :)

By the time I was finished with breakfast and time in the Word (I do them at the same time), DH was in the shower and DS was not to be heard from yet. WOW... time to get something done! That's rare in the morning. Being as that today is DH's birthday I thought for a moment about what I could do that may bless him. I scurried (yep... scurried) into the bedroom and made up the bed, complete with pillows, propped up his birthday card next to his contacts case and began straightening up the bedroom (much needed for a while now). I even went so far as to clear off the dresser of all clothes and other randomness that accumulates there. All this in itself is quite an accomplishment for me... let alone by 8 am!

Next I headed out to the kitchen again, put away the dishes and straightened in there. I cleared some shopping things from the kitchen table and organized a few things in the living room. By the time DH was out and about the house looked pretty presentable! :) All this before 8:30, and before DS was awake.

After DS was up and had eaten breakfast we decided to vacuum. DS loves the vacuum and takes turns following and running from it. (I did manage to re-injure a muscle in my leg that has been healing while moving something I shouldn't have been moving... hopefully the soreness will not last past today.) Once the vacuuming was complete, DS and I each got a damp cloth and wiped down doors and windows to get rid of the dust and dirt that has been accumulating far too long. What a dream to get some of these "I really want to do that before the baby gets here" things done this morning!

Ok... If you are my husband and you are still reading this (shame on you), then you definitely have to stop now! (and I love you!)

After all this, we started a crazy project! DS and I made my sweet birthday boy husband a birthday cake!... together. Did I tell you that we did dishes together last week? If I didn't I'll get that post up in the next couple days. Well, this was the next big thing we've tackled together! He did way better than I expected. It is hard for a 14 1/2 month old to keep the spoon/spatula in the bowl! Let me tell you, there were ingredients (that were supposed to have stayed in the bowl) everywhere! DH's favorite cake is this yummy banana cake that has been in his family for generations! We decided to make that one. Now, for those of you who don't know, bananas are DS's favorite. I was certain that we would have some sort of melt down when I wouldn't let him eat them. Thankfully I think stirring (which he did the whole time) helped distract from the "big yellow things", as DH and I call them these days. :)

Here is a glimpse of the table after we finished...

... and this doesn't show what we each looked like or the floor... or the counter where we used the mixer. :) I have to say a huge thank you to Tammy for the inspiration to include my sweet boy in the kitchen! She's right... it makes a bigger mess, but it was so worth it. I think my favorite part is that I almost forgot (ok, completely forgot but not before it was too late) to add the eggs. I wondered why it was so thick! Making sure a 14 month old doesn't poor everything everywhere and doesn't fall off the chair he's standing on makes it hard to keep your place in a recipe! :)

Now that nap time has officially begun, I still have a bunch of things I'd like to accomplish. Wrapping up lunch/baking dishes is one of them... we'll see. I also need to wrap DH's birthday gift from me. (I won't tell you what it is just in case he somehow misses the red parts of this post!) Oh, and a shower would be a great thing! Especially after that baking extravaganza! :)

Hope you are all feeling productive today... if not... I will completely understand. Most days are unproductive for me these days. :)

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Learning for Little Ones: Toddler Field Trips!

We think of field trips for our school aged children, but we forget that we can take our little ones on field trips too! The best part is that toddler field trips can be very simple (and frugal!) Think about the things your little one likes or is learning. A history museum is probably not going to work out. :)

My 14 month old loves animals these days! He would love the zoo, especially a petting zoo! In the winter though it isn't practical... and it isn't the cheapest thing to do (especially when my little guy wouldn't last long!)

When DS was younger (maybe 6 months ago) we discovered the pet store! WOW... he was so excited. All the birds and fish... and the puppies in the back! That was a treat. Those aren't always there, but he got to touch them and everything. He had just started noticing fuzzy things and this was a great treat!

Last weekend we took things to another level. If you are lucky enough to have a Cabelas or Bass Pro Shop or the like near your home, those are a great place for fun and learning! We walked all around our Bass Pro Shop, stopping at all the taxidermied animals (sorry if you disapprove of that practice, but I've found a way to use it for educational purposes!) to look. (We stopped at all the stuffed and plastic animals too... DS didn't seem to sense a difference!) DS was soooo excited. For each animal we stopped at (most of them anyway, I don't know everything) we would look and I would show him the sign. Then DH and I would both sign it and help him to as well. He loved it! The wolves were great fun as dogs are a personal favorite these days! He almost has the idea of the sign for bear... and the moose were great fun (they are really big!)

Our Bass Pro Shop also has a HUGE fish tank in it. We spent 20 or more minutes just standing at the tank watching them. DS loved it! Out in the rest of the mall, BPS trickles out in the form of other taxidermied animals and fish swimming around in a pool. We stopped at every pool to watch the fish. It was here that DS signed fish for the first time! What fun to see him learn new things and put things together!

One step simpler??? Today DS and I did our weekly trip to CVS. With Easter coming, there were decorations everywhere. Just in the last couple days DS has learned bunny (a cute story all in it's self!) He had so much fun in the store. Every time he saw a bunny on a sign or hanging from the ceiling or for sale on the shelf he would do his sign for bunny (most signs are still works in progress... what's important though at this stage is that he knows what he's talking about and I know what he's talking about.) :)

So you see... anything can be a field trip! Just take the time to focus on what your little one can learn wherever you are! :) This definately works for me!

Want more ideas for teaching your children??? Visit here!

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Natural Ways to Provide Vitamin C to your Toddler

Vitamin C is one of the most well known nutrients out there. We all know it is good for us and helps keep us healthy, but I was surprised at how much I didn’t know. Here are some basics about vitamin C. It:
  • is also called ascorbic acid
  • is a water soluble vitamin
  • is very sensitive to air, water, and temperature. Cooking decreases the amount in foods ~ Fresh is best!
  • is easily excreted when not needed
  • regenerates supply of vitamin E
  • increases the absorption of iron
  • acts as a protector for our body ~ protecting skin and gums; prevents cardiovascular diseases, cancers, joint disease, etc.
  • can be especially good for children with asthma and autism
  • protects cells from free radical damage

Though some will give a lower number, most sources I’ve seen list the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin C for our toddlers (1-3 years old) at 40 mg per day. What is important to note is that, although fat soluble vitamins like vitamin E can be evaluated over several days, your toddler needs 40 mg of this water soluble vitamin every day!

Fortunately for us as parents, there is a very long list of foods that provide our toddlers with vitamin C! Take a look! I loved reading that a single orange each day more than takes care of the daily requirement. Do we have an orange each day? No. In fact, we have run out of oranges (and frankly they aren’t cheap in the winter months), but there are so many more options available! Here are my tips... some of the foods I try to include in my little one’s diet on a regular basis (I just got lucky on some of these… who knew they had vitamin C?!?)

  • ¼ cup steamed broccoli = fulfilled requirement!
  • ½ orange (we usually share one) = 35/40 mg!
  • Whole banana (he wants one of these every day!) = 10 mg
  • ¼ cup green peas = 5 mg
  • ¼ cup pineapple = 5 mg
  • 1/8 cup spinach (mixed with scrambled egg) = 2 mg

I can’t wait until summer when all those yummy fresh fruits are plentiful, ripe, and on sale! The options are endless.

There is one more thing I cannot dismiss in the way of getting vitamin C into your little one. Juice! Check those labels when purchasing your juice, as many “juice” products are cocktails with very little real fruit juice in them at all. In order to avoid the excess sugar juice is known for, pick out something that really is 100% juice! We drink Juicy Juice in our home, but I have to tell you that my son has probably had a TOTAL of 2-4 ounces of diluted juice in his entire 14 ½ months of life. Now that I see some of my vitamin C short comings, I may give him an ounce or two of juice (diluted with water to make a 4 ounce cup) on days when he is consuming less vitamin C rich foods, but still, I try to steer away from juice as a rule to avoid the sugars! My little one loves milk and water and I love that!

How do you work vitamin C into your toddler’s diet???


Sample Weekly Toddler Menu

A crazy week for my family! It's DH's birthday on Monday and I had big plans to make his favorites all week! Unfortunately the only night we will all be home is Friday! Our little one still has to eat though, so that is why some of our dinners are a little bizzarre. I wasn't going to cook up a huge meal for just him (14 months old), so PB&J is built in on one dinner time! Sorry! :)

I hope this menu helps you with your own inspiration! It was rough for me to work with. You will notice that Beef Stroganoff got bumped from last week to this week. That is because DH and I have a photo shoot tonight (sort of last minute) and will be picking something up on the road while DS eats at home with the sitter... speaking of which... if you haven't weighed in on the babysitter question, please do so!

Oh... one other thing, I will be adding juice in a couple places to make sure he is getting his vitamin C! Check back tomorrow for my post on Vitamin C! :)

Looking for more ideas??? Try here!



A very "boy" story!

I know I haven't been around much, and I'm sorry. I'm sure some of you have started wondering if my little one has come, and she hasn't quite yet. But between my lack of energy and my attempt to finish a bunch of little and big things before she does get here, I have been neglecting my little blog. I am making it my goal to be back this week and to have some things prepared for after our little girl is born in the next couple weeks so that I don't leave you all alone. :) I am now 38 weeks... and the Drs. say all is well! :)

Today I have a brief "boy" story to share with you. :) Yesterday while we were video conferencing with my mother (we've just recently got the webcams going and it's great!), my little boy (14 1/2 months old) stuck his finger up his nose and blew out hard. I can't tell you how much yuck came out the other side! His cold is almost gone, but not completely! There was plenty in there to share with everyone. :)

I'm just glad it happened in our living room and not at church! :)

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Thursday, February 21, 2008


I don't think there is anything that baffles parents of young children more than this one... how much should you pay a babysitter. Maybe it's a regional thing, but I have never met a person in conversation who can tell me the going rate for babysitting these days. We are really blessed... there is a college student in our church who charges $2 (yes... TWO) per hour per child! That is just $2 an hour for us (and $4 an hour after next month... well, in a few months when I'm ready to leave her with a college student). Honestly, we always pay her more than that. We just can't justify it. DH is really the one who pushes it up there. I'm not even sure $2 an hour covers gas for her to come and drive home if we aren't gone very long. We ususally give her $5 an hour and then round up at the end. I made $5 an hour 15 years ago... so as much as it hurt me to think about... I have to wonder if it's higher than that normally.

This is a big deal to us because we use babysitters more than the average person. Now, before I get all sorts of comments on how it is my job to raise my children and you would NEVER use a babysitter, etc, etc, etc, please let me explain. I have the express joy to stay home with my little one every day! I love it! I love that I don't have to miss those normal daily things. I love that I can teach him the things I want him to learn and that he can grow up in his home! I love everything about it and I am so thankful for the opportunity! One of the things that makes our life possible with me at home, though, is the photography business I run from our home. This means that we do have to go out to do photo shoots (we work on location) some evenings and Saturdays (and lots of evenings and Saturdays during the busy Senior Portraits season).

So anyway... long story over... how much do you pay a babysitter to watch your children? Don't forget to mention how many children you have, and maybe their age ranges... that may make a difference! The more comments the merrier! Let's make this a great resource place for this information. If you've never commented before... make this your first time! PLEASE... we all want to know! I'll put up another post in a few days if we get some great answers, and I'd love to link to you if you have any input for us!

By the way... this is one of those posts that was totally DH's idea. In fact, just last night he asked if I'd posted on it yet... so apparently it's an important one. :) I love when he gets involved in my blogging! :)

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Well... I'm exhausted today. It has been a busy week (have you noticed by the absence of posting?!?) Business has boomed a little bit this week. I can partially blame myself, as I sent out a "taking 6 weeks off in March" email to a handful of clients whose accounts are open with us. Basically that means we've taken their pictures but they haven't placed an order yet. Seriously, if they want their senior pictures before the school year ends, they only have a week or two to get in here. In addition to that we had a couple business people want head shots for brochures/business cards etc. It fills our evenings and gives me plenty of work during the day.

Anyway... this short post to give you a Works for Me Wednesday tip!...

Supervising from the couch! Yep... I just coundn't do it anymore this morning. I was so tired and not feeling great (I am 37+ weeks pregnant) so I grabbed a blanket and lay down on the couch. DS (14 1/2 months) thought is was hysterical. He took turns climbing up on the couch with me (and in turn on me as well) and running around playing in the kitchen and living room (all seeable from where I was). It was great. Eventually I had to get up and make lunch, but for a stretch of time this morning, it worked for me!

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sample Weekly Toddler Menu

Here is my sample toddler menu for this week! Remember, I have a 14 month old, so adjust amounts up or down for your little one accordingly! Check here to see about how much your toddler should be eating.
A few details about our menu this week... Tammy's Easy Lasagna got bumped from last week (I forgot a couple things at the store last week and we just didn't get around to it), so I'll be making it and a second pan for my freezer this week. Wednesday's Simple Beef Gravy Supper is Tammy's as well! It looks super easy and I'm hoping to get some of it in the freezer for baby time too. :) The rest is pretty normal. Oh... Beef Stroganoff is DH's favorite! I'll get the recipe for you later on. Next week is DH's birthday, so I'll be spoiling him with some of his favorite meals... starting with that one. (And I'll be freezing 1/2 of it too!)

Email me at babychaser(at)gmail(dot)com if you want a printable copy of the menu! :) You may be able to double click on it and see it pretty big too... it worked that way last week.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Over-emotional mommy!

That's me... I've been very emotional these last few days. I can cry or, at the very least, almost cry at the littlest things... happy or sad. My sweet husband said something on the phone the other day from work and I almost teared up at how cut he was. Then this evening I broke down (almost silent sobbing) in the car because too many "close calls" happened on our trip home from Staples (please note that DH was in complete control the whole time... but since I wasn't, it was apparently too nerve recking!)

If only the birth of this baby would ease my emotions, but I know that it is only going to get worse post-partum! Sigh... makes me feel a little rediculous!

The sweet part though... is that my sweet husband takes my emotions so seriously. As soon as he knew of my breakdown in the car he was so sweet and appologetic! I have a wonderful guy who is so sensitive to my feelings and "needs".

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Pregnancy Dreams

I must say that my dreams of late have been even more bizzare than normal... and that's saying something! This morning however, although it was still a little bizzare, I had a wonderful dream. I drempt of our little girls birth. I got to see her, to hold her and to nurse her. The best part is that she actually nursed... naturally. I have been starting to wonder (/worry) about nursing as DS was not a natural at it and we struggled long and hard.

Anyway, I woke up with such a fun feeling of excitement. Dreams like this can certainly get me through the next 3 weeks! Especially after a night like last night... very uncomfortable and even painful.

I've managed to hurt myself, making most general movement, standing up, sitting down, shifting, rolling over, etc. quite painful. I did a dumb thing and tried to move a heavy box with my foot... pulling it sideways. Ouch! Hopefully it will pass in a couple days! :)

In the mean time, I had a doctors appointment yesterday (they will be weekly from now on). I didn't gain a single pound! Yey! And they said everything looks good. :)

Now... I have just over 3 weeks to wait (hopefully)... and tons to do. I've got to tell you though, I'm inspired to get some of it done! First thing this morning is to vacuum pack DS old clothes to cut down on space.



Wednesday, February 13, 2008

When Huggies are TOO Expensive

Maybe your child is shaped differently than mine is, or maybe you've just had a different experience, but I think most of us would have to admit that Huggies really are the best diaper!

Seems like the Huggies people know it too... because they are soooo much more expensive than ALL the other diapers... and there aren't nearly as many coupons for them as for Pampers. Nor are Huggies on sale at CVS as often as Pampers or the store brand... let alone give ECBs! But let's face it, even though those other diapers may work during the day (if you are staying on top of everything), they just don't make it through a 12-13 hour night without leaving the jammies smelly and wet! And that means extra laundry for everyone... no one likes that!

So what can we do??? Well, if I can get Huggies, I buy them! Hands down! But, as I mentioned before, often Pampers or the CVS brand are giving great sales, coupons, or ECBs... or even better... all three! I just can't pass up an opportunity to get cheap diapers! So I buy Huggies when I can get them cheaper than the others (by combo coupons, sales, and ECBs) and buy the others the rest of the time. I used to just deal with the washing and the new jammies every night (we only have 3 sets you know), but now I've found a better way. Here's what you do...

It's simple really (so simple I JUST figured it out recently)... Use Huggies at night and the other diapers during the day! Profound isn't it!?! Should I run out of other diapers before the next sale (and still have Huggies), I just use the Huggies... otherwise, this works for me!

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Today's To-Dos

Sigh... well, I don't hear DS anymore, so maybe he is actually going to fall asleep. It's been a crazy morning with him being tired and fussy (perhaps not feeling well today) and mommy really not feeling like doing all the mommy things (perhaps I'm not feeling well today either). I do have a number of things I want to accomplish during nap time... so we'll see. The first thing I did after putting DS down to nap is straighten up the mess he leaves in his wake. Since we have just one living area (kitchen/living room combined), not cleaning up his toys regularly leaves us in chaos! I've weeded out lots of the toys he doesn't play with as much and reduced the number of them and books that stay out here. That helped a lot! So what's next?? Well, if I could accomplish everything I want to have done before DS wakes up, here's what it would be...
  • fold and organize huge load of clean baby girl clothes (that takes forever because they are so small... lots fit in a "huge" load)
  • make last night's dinner for freezer (I was supposed to do this at the same time as making dinner last night, but we only had enough milk for the one recipe... so today I'll make it again. It was REALLY good though, so it's worth it! I'll post on it later on sometime.)
  • Make a batch of sugar cookies (we are having dinner with new friends from church Thursday night (V-Day) and I was looking for a fun hostess gift... I thought that yummy heart shaped cookies may be perfect for them and their little boys. :) If I can just get them baked today, I'll frost tomorrow!)
  • brown meat for dinner
  • Dishes from all the afternoon cooking

I'm so glad I took the time to make that list. Now that I see it all in print (well on the screen anyway) it doesn't look so bad. I think I'll start in the kitchen... that way when I get tired I can sit and fold as a "break"... plus, folding can always be done later if need be! :)

What are you doing today??

By the way... for those of you shocked by my declaration of wishing for more snow in these parts, I'm getting my wish today. We are supposed to be getting combo of snow and frozen rain through morning! It's already started... pray we don't loose power! Still... I love extreme weather like this... at least sometimes!

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Making sure your toddlers are getting the Vitamin E they need!

Looking at specific vitamins and trying to include them in your toddler’s diet can be daunting. Here is a brief look at some of the details. Vitamin E…
  • is a fat soluble vitamin (find out more about this here)
  • is actually a family of vitamins
  • prevents oxidative stress
  • supports healthy skin
  • provides UV Protection
  • protects against some cancers and heart disease
  • can be damaged by exposure to air and factory processing
  • depends on vitamin C, glutathione, selenium and vitamin B3 to remain active
  • is better to get in your diet than through supplements

The recommended daily requirement (RDA) for vitamin E in our toddlers (ages 1-3) is 6 mg/day, however it is better to watch how much they are getting over a 3-5 day period rather than stressing over each day.

Ehow tells us some great ways to help us get vitamin E into our little ones. Check out some of these equivalents…

  • 1 T. wheat germ = 2 mg
  • ½ c. blueberries = 1.5 mg
  • 1 T. peanut butter = 1mg
  • 1 sweet potato = 5 mg
  • ½ c. broccoli = 1 mg
  • 1 avocado = 2-4 mg

Here are some tips from my kitchen:

  • add wheat germ to his oatmeal in the mornings
  • include olives (another good source of vitamin E) in his diet as snacks and with meals (I slice them up as finger food or put them on pizza… he loves them)
  • incorporate many of the above foods in our menus throughout the week

Take a look over the next few days at how much vitamin E your little ones are getting. Most likely they are already getting what they need, but rest assured that if they aren’t, it’s easy to add some in without stressing over it!


Fat Soluble vs. Water Soluble Vitamins

This is a question I am constantly having to ask myself… What is the difference between Fat and Water Soluble Vitamins? I always think I remember, but am never sure. So… I thought it deserved it’s very own post so that I can refer you back to it time and time again (and ultimately have a place to find the answer the next time I can’t remember.) :)

Fat soluble vitamins are vitamins that need fat to be absorbed by and stored in the body (therefore diets too low in fat can hinder absorption). Because these vitamins are stored in the body, should you consume too many, it is possible to have a toxic reaction (most people don’t need supplements). On the positive side, for the same reason, these vitamins stay with you for longer periods of time and are not necessary to consume daily. They also do not loose any of their nutritional value through cooking. Fat soluble vitamins include A, D, E, and K.

Water soluble vitamins are not stored in the body, but are absorbed by the water in your body and excreted in the urine. Because of this, you do not have to worry about toxicity, however, you do need to eat the right amounts of them every day! Keep in mind, too, that these vitamins are easily damaged through food storage and preparation! They include the B vitamins and vitamin C.


This Week's Toddler Menu... now available to print!

Happy Monday to you all!!!

Here is our toddler menu for this week! Keep in mind that this is just what we have planned... things do change sometimes, so don't feel bad if you don't stick to yours food for food! These menus are only a tool to help us feed our children nutritiously! :)

Also, I've had a request to make this available for you to print, so I do have a larger .pdf available for you if you want to print it out at home for reference... just send me an email at babychaser@gmail(dot)com and I'll send it to you! :) It will print approximately 6" x 6.5" in the center of a regular page. I may work on the formating more before next week... but we'll start here. :)
For dinners this week I'm trying to simplify. We've been trying to keep our grocery budget around $35-$40 a week and were doing a pretty good job since starting in November. That is until a couple weeks ago... a $45 week, then more than $70 last week. I guess this out of control stuff is a theme these days. So I'm trying to get a grip and have a low week. We are therefore using what we have... and it turns out we have quite a bit. :)

Both the pasta night and Tammy's Easy Lasagna (a recipe we are trying new and I'm planning to freeze a second tray of) are using jarred pasta sauce I stocked up on several weeks ago when they were on sale. Oh, and the pizza... I'm planning to make 2 of them, freezing the second all ready to go in the oven after the baby comes. :) That makes 2 more meals added to my freezer this week! :)

Thursday night we were invited to have dinner with friends from church... what a blessing to help stretch our grocery budget this week! :)

Stop in later on... I have plans for a new nutrition article! Another easy way to get those tough nutrients into our kiddies! :)

Don't miss our giveaway... and get more family meal ideas here!

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A Good Start...

So much to do today... though I'm feeling pretty good about already having "fold laundry" crossed off my list! :) Oh, and the dishes are almost done (I ran out of hot water). I'm starting to think that the daunting tasks I was looking at last night may only be daunting before they are done.

It helps that DS is still sleeping (at 9:15)... though I am starting to hear him now. He was awake at 6ish this morning playing in his bed. We left his door open a little in hopes that it would be warmer in there, but I think the night light in the bathroom gave him too much light. I was so hoping he would fall back to sleep when I quietly closed the door again. (Because seriously... I wasn't ready to get up at 6!)

Anyway, his late rising has helped me accomplish a few things that would have ended up waiting until nap time! What a blessing! Now we will officially get going with getting him up and having breakfast. :) Then we'll see what I can get around too... our weekly menu and the toddler menu isn't started yet... so I will be working on that during nap time for sure!

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Saturday, February 9, 2008

Wish List MeMe

I’m a little slow at this, but I was tagged… oh, a long time ago (middle of January) for this meme… my first! Thanks to Rain for including me! With the “Strategies” series, I didn’t want to add one more thing, but now I know it’s time.

So, I’m supposed to post on 5 things I wish for but don’t need and 5 things of a spiritual nature… here I go!

Things I don’t need, but would love to have…

1. A house of our very own (and paid for by the way). I would love to have our own house that we could paint and decorate however we want. One with a yard that our children can play in and my husband can work around. Ultimately we would love to build our own cabin on property with a creek (like we have now). Sigh… maybe someday!

2. A large family full of children! I know I don’t need this, and God will help me be content with whatever size family I get to have, but I would love more children. I’ve always had my heart set on a large family. My sweet husband is perfectly content with the 2 we have (including the one we are expecting next month of course). It is hard sometimes for me to remember that he feels just as strongly about that as I do about my big family. How unfair it is of me to wish the opposite of his desires. I am regularly seeking the Lord to make our desires one with each other’s, and one with the Lords… whatever that be.

3. A house cleaner (and ultimately therefore a cleaner house)! I know I don’t need this one, but wouldn’t it be great to have someone else come to do the weekly cleaning (since I don’t get to everything that often). Imagine if it got dusted and wiped down and scrubbed etc EVERY WEEK! The floors get done several times a week as needed, but everything else is sort of hit and miss these days! I really need to be better about the dusting! All those dust mites floating around in the air my family breaths!... not good!

4. A new desk! This is on the list of things to buy, but quickly moved off the list after my accident last month (since they totaled the car and we had to buy another one). The desk I have once belonged to my FIL as a child… then my husband as a child. Now it is the desk that is in our living room. It isn’t bad… but it isn’t an adult home business owner’s desk. I would love something with real organization to it! We’ve picked one out at Staples or Office Max or something… now we just wait for the money. Maybe next year.

5. More snow! As I type, it is snowing and we are well on our way to a ½ inch on the ground… but most of the time when our region gets snow, we don’t get any… or very little. The mountains around us keep it out. I love snow… and lots of it. I would love the weather they have a little north of us. Or even a lot north of us.

5 Things of a spiritual nature I hope for…

1. I hope for each of my children (and their future spouses) to trust the Lord early, and with their whole hearts. I hope they can avoid lives spent in rebellion and sin as a result, and have hearts that desire to serve him wholeheartedly!

2. I desire to grow in my own personal discipline and devotion to Christ, and to see that discipline and devotion poor out onto the care of my husband, children, and home!

3. I pray to see new growth each day in my sweet husband’s walk with the Lord as well. To see him grow ever stronger as the spiritual leader of our family. It is such joy to see him in the Word of God each day. What a great example for our children as they grow!

4. I desire to have opportunities with my family to travel overseas for missions like DH and I each had opportunity to do before we were married. I met my husband the day I was appointed to be a missionary with our organization (the one DH works for) and neither of us have been on a missions trip since. DH may have a chance to go somewhere in the fall, but it isn’t a safe place to take a newborn. I would love to be able to serve overseas as a family!

5. To see the heart of God grown in me. This encompasses so many things from patience to compassion to anything. It’s one of those dangerous things to ask for as it takes difficult training grounds, but I would love it none the less!

I’m not going to officially “tag” anyone specific because I really never know who would want to be tagged or not. If you want to participate (it was more meaningful for me to do that I thought it would be), count yourself tagged and let me know! I’d love to read your 5 things!


Friday, February 8, 2008

Being Brave: Making Spinach Quiche all by myself!

I was commenting to my sister this afternoon that I felt very accomplished this week. The only reason I can figure is that I have done quite a bit of real live cooking... some of which included recipes I'd never tried before. One of those recipes was Tammy's Spinach Quiche. Never having tried to make quiche before, I really didn't know what to expect. Since I told you I'd try to let you know how it went, here's my report!

We started out with a whole wheat crust (a very scary thing if you ask me). We've been doing a lot more wheat in our diet, so that wasn't the scary part... it was the making of a crust that had me... it's the whole reason my poor DH has been deprived of the promised apple pie I was going to make at Christmas. Crust is hard work... but somehow, this one wasn't! I'm thinking about using it for the apple pie... perhaps if I add a bit more sugar... what do you think? (Maybe I just need to do the regular crust... I'm probably making it out to be worse than it is!)

***Hint: Turn on the oven to pre-heat before starting the crust... very annoying to have to wait FOREVER for your oven to pre-heat when you are ready to use it! The good news is that this wasn't the only thing that took more time than intended.

Next we browned some meat... wouldn't this have gone faster and smoother had I remembered that there was meat in it and taken it out of the freezer before it was time to start cooking! So what you see here is me thawing/cooking... at the same time. That is why there is both browned meat and a big pink hunk in the picture.

While the meat thawed/browned, (and the oven slowly pre-heated), I did some chopping. First the onion (with my Pampered Chef food chopper), then the spinach (with my Pampered Chef food chopper). I used canned spinach instead of fresh or frozen because we have 3-4 cans I picked up real cheap a while back. Just make sure you drain it! The recipe says to skip the "cooking it with the meat" part if you don't use fresh, but I missed that part till later. It worked ok though becasue the cooking with the meat part helped get rid of the rest of the moisture.

Oh... while the oven was pre-heating I moved the crust to the kitchen table so I would have room to work (keep in mind the size of my kitchen work area). I thought I put it back far enough, but while I wasn't looking my 14 month old got really tall (how does this happen by the way?) and he could still reach it... notice the 2 finger marks that weren't there in the first picture. I caught him the second time apparently... then noticed he had something in his mouth. If not for the raw egg I'da let him keep it... but alas, we went digging in the mouth and pushed the crust further back. My fault for not explaining that stealing food from the table is a no no I suppose. :)

Well, here it is... all pretty and done!

And this one too (see the steam, it was HOT!) Let me tell you... I was officially scared of this meal. It really didn't look appetizing to me. I cut it up for DS and it really didn't look good. Even wedged on my plate... hmmm...

But it was SO GOOD! We will definately be having this again! And if I can't talk DH into taking me out for dinner tonight, we'll be enjoying it again!
A couple things to note about the recipe... it took me forever to make (not the recipes fault)!

In the future (because I WILL be making this again) I will do some make ahead. The crust could have easily been done that morning. The meat could have been browned prior to dinner time too (at least thawed!) With all that done, assembly and cooking would have taken no time at all... and we would have eaten at a reasonable hour. :) Something I like! I did manage to do most of the dishes while it baked though... that was a blessing.

I was so happy with myself too... on any other night I would have called out the window at my husband (who was "playing" down by the river getting it all cleaned up) that we were ordering pizza after the first delay... and especially after the second! But no... I kept trudging through... and we had a more delicious and healthier meal because of it!

Go check out the full recipe at Tammy's Recipes!

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Trying to Salvage my Day!

Rough morning and I'm tired... but the fussy baby is down for his nap and will hopefully stay there for the next 4 hours! I could really use 4 hours!

I've accomplished nothing today so far, and I'm drained of the energy I wish I had to do what is left to do. I'm holding things to the bare minimum for the afternoon... what actually needs to get done?? Here is what I've come up with so far...
  • Dishes (didn't get to last night's dinner dishes and the kitchen is destroyed now because of it!)
  • Fold laundry (2 loads, one on my couch and one waiting in the dryer)
  • Map our CVS trip (we really need to go tonight... I think I get free chocolate and make up!)

That is my goal list for now. If I can just get those things done, and done in this first hour of nap time, I will feel so much better. And the best part... then I can do whatever I want or don't want without feeling like a terrible home maker!


Thursday, February 7, 2008

Stocking My Freezer with this White Sauce Enchilada Recipe

Yesterday I finally got to the Enchiladas I've been meaning to make for my freezer. They were supposed to be Monday nights dinner (with a second batch going into the freezer), but alas, I discovered my favorite ingredient ~ the green chilis ~ was missing from my pantry, so we did a fake it dinner instead! :)

This is one of our favorite meals though, so I thought I would share the recipe! I got it from friends of ours and made some modifications... thanks guys!

Step 1: Gather ingredients
  • 3 large breasts chicken (cooked and cut into bite sized pieces)
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup (we use the Campbell's Healthy Choice to avoid bad ingredients)
  • 12 oz. Sour Cream (she uses fat free, but we don't... I also sometimes throw in an entire 16 oz container of this to spread the filling a little further)
  • 1 and 1/2 cup cheddar cheese ~ shredded (as you can see, we usually use the Mexican Four Cheese shredded blend in stead... yummy!)
  • 4 oz can diced green chilies (this adds a great zing without making it spicy. If it's spice you are looking for, go for diced jalapenos instead... we did this once when we bought the wrong thing. DH loved it, but it was too hot for me.)
  • 10 tortillas (though when I split it up into 2 smaller pans, I spread it out over 12 tortillas... 10 works for the 9x13 pan though) (Oh, and we really like to use wheat tortillas, or spinach or sun dried tomatoes... adds nutrients and more fun flavors!)
  • 1/2 cup cheese for top
Step 2: You can probably omit this one if you are able to keep your sour cream from freezing in the back of your refrigerator... this stuff was pretty solid... it slowed progress down significantly! :)

Step 3: Combine all ingredients (except the tortillas of course) in a large bowl! (It looks goopy, but it is soooo yummy!)

Step 4: Fill tortillas. (You won't want to fill them too full, but don't skimp either!)

Step 5: Roll filling...
...and arrange in a 9x13 pan (Since it's just DH and I, and now a 14 month old, we usually split the recipe up into 2 8x8 pans and freeze one... otherwise there is tons of left overs! This time we did it on purpose because I want them in the freezer for when our little girl is born next month!)

Step 6: Spread remaining "filling" over top of tortilla rolls. ~ YUM! This helps make it gooey!

Step 7: Sprinkle cheese on top... I used the rest of the 2 cup bag of cheese we started with!

Step 8: For freezing, I covered it up, wrote the directions and date on top and stuck it in the freezer. For the pan I did in my stone, I lined the bottom with foil so that I can pop it out and wrap it up after it's frozen (then I can continue using my stone between now and eating it.) When we're ready to cook it, I'll just pop it back into the stone, let it thaw, and bake!

If you are eating it... now is when it goes in the pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes until bubby and browned. You can cover it or not. If you cover it though, uncover it for the last 5 ish minutes to let the top cheese get melty!

Our friend Angela (who gave me the recipe) makes a great presentation with this recipe. She suggests laying down a bed of shredded iceburg lettuce, placing the enchilada on top and sprinkling more cheese and tomato, etc. on top. Have sour cream, salsa, hot sauce, etc. on the table and serve with chips.

DH and I usually do it simple... just the enchiladas... we don't even find that it needs any toppings!


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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

A New Button... and a Giveaway!

Creating a weekly toddler menu has been such a blessing to me! Before starting this, I would struggle each day -- each meal really-- to figure out what to feed my little one (now 14 months). After, finally, finding something to give for lunch or snack or whatever that would fill his tummy, I still didn't feel confident that I was giving him the nutrients he needed!

Now, with a little time spent each week, I can simply look to my weekly toddler menus to remind myself what he should be getting at the next meal or snack. And the best part is, I can do this with very little thought because I already planned for balanced nutrition on the menu!

What can be better than that? I'll tell you... since I started this, I've had the joy of sharing it with all of you... and I've been so excited to see many of you desiring to feed your little ones nutritious meals and snacks! I've so loved hearing from so many of you in comments or via email (keep it coming!) that these simple menus of mine are helping you with new ideas and healthy solutions for your children! That makes it worth the extra time put toward making it internet friendly. In future weeks I'll be working on new ways to make it easier to read and follow (ideas welcome!) In the mean time, I would love for my menus to help as many moms as possible!

I created a new button this afternoon... to tell everyone about my toddler menus! If you have enjoyed or been inspired by the toddler menus you've seen here, I'd love you to consider putting this button on your sidebar for others to find. Here's the code...

Just coppy and paste this code into the designated spot on your blog to show others how to get here. :) (For some reason it puts an additional "opening carrot [<]" in there at the beginning... if you delete that first charactor, it should be right. It will work without changing it, but there will be a little "carrot" just above the button.) Let me know if the button doesn't work for you and I'll get it fixed up special! ***Special thanks to The Simple Wife for helping me get the code in this post!

Now for the Giveaway!... If you've added our button to your sidebar, stop back here to leave a comment and I'll enter you for our giveaway! I will be giving away The Healthy Body Cookbook! Though I don't have it yet, it looks to be a great resource for fun healthy recipes for you and your children to make together. As your toddlers become old enough, they can learn about cooking, healthy eating, and a number of things about thier bodies! Basically, it doubles as a great homeschooling or learning book as well as a cookbook! That's a book after my own heart!

Want to be entered twice??? Post something on your blog about our giveaway and then leave a second comment! I'll put your name in there twice... oh, and don't forget to leave me a way to contact you... on both comments!

I'll leave the contest open until Valentine's Day! That gives everyone time to get things done and get entered! :)

For those of you without a blog, sorry, this time my giveaway is for bloggers only. Also, I'm sorry to all my international readers, but I can only ship to the USA and Canada for this one. I hope you will still include me in your sidebar if our menus have been a blessing to you!

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Is this really February??

We stepped out this morning as DH was leaving and just couldn't believe it! I stepped back in to see the thermometor on our weather station... 58 degrees already!... at 9 am. That's just rediculous. I promptly asked DH if he would take the stroller out of the trunk (before taking our only car to work with him).

Needless to say, DS and I went for a walk... right then and right there! :) It was so nice. I planned to just do 2 laps (it's a 1/4 mile to the end of the street, so 2 laps makes for a mile), but I felt well enough to add a lap there at the end. So in the end we walked 1 and 1/2 miles this morning. Now before you get too impressed, we don't break a sweat when we do these walks. They are more like strolls... I get a mile done in 20 or so minutes. But I get exercise from them anyway! That easy walking helped me get into shape this past summer... and helped me loose well beyond the rest of my pregnancy weight! :) It just goes to show you I guess that exercise doesn't have to be hard or to hurt to be effective! Those of you joining me on my 5 week get in shape before my baby comes quest... just do something! :)

Well... I have another list of "to dos" for today... yesterdays got mostly done, praise the Lord! One of those is to disinfect the door knobs in my house! Before I do though... there is a basket that I need to put on my head (I love playing with my baby boy!)

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Back to Life!

Whew! I've got to tell you, as fun as it was to bring you all those strategies for getting your toddlers to eat, I sure am glad to have that last post done and up! I've been trying to limit my other posting so as not to inundate you all with reading material!

In the mean time, life has continued to go on as usual! This cute story from yesterday is one I just can't keep to myself!

DH, DS and I went grocery shopping last night (it's a Monday night family affair!) and DS spotted a dog! How do we know this??? (He isn't talking... AT ALL!) Well, while I was price comparing cheese, DH noticed DS hitting his chest (the ASL sign for dog is to hit your thigh with your hand, but DS hits his tummy or chest instead). My husband, knowing that is how he signs it, looked around a bit, but could see no reason for the sign. Then he noticed a lady's jacket hanging over her cart, covered in dogs!

Sigh... makes a mother so happy to see her little one learning like that!

Earlier in the day we were visiting our neighbors. On the floor in the corner they have a large (yet still smaller than DS) ceramic deer... DS kept going over to it (not too close), pointing, and signing dog! Ok... he's smart, but he doesn't have it all figured out yet! It's a start though. :)


When your Toddler Won’t Eat Anything ~ Part 8

We are talking about basic strategies for encouraging your toddler to eat healthy. You can read the first strategies and source information here before continuing.
8. Grow it together!

We’ve been through a lot these last couple weeks as we’ve been focusing on strategies to help your toddler to eat. This last strategy takes your hands on approach to the next level… I should say “grows” your hands on approach to the next level! I think you will find that when your little ones have a part in growing the food themselves, they will be much more likely to try it. Your really young ones won’t yet be ready for this, but when your toddler nears the 2 year mark (though I’m planning to garden with my DS this summer at about 18 months), he will be fascinated by helping things grow. Now I’m no gardener (in fact, everything DH and I have tried to grow in the 3 years since we married has died… or worse, never come up out of the ground!), but we will be taking the plunge into a potted garden this year to help with some of our produce!

So what do you do when planting a garden isn’t practical? Find books or pictures that explain the process and teach your little ones how that big ugly squash started as a tiny seed, became a plant with a flower and then grew into the squash. Even in the winter you can try to grow herbs inside. At the very least, take your little ones to the grocery store with you and let them help choose and shop for the foods they will eat. When you get home, help them help you to prepare the foods!

Being a part of the process will perk your little ones interest in a new or otherwise “scary” food.

Well, that's it... the end of our "Strategies" series! Do you have any other kitchen tips for getting your toddlers to eat? We'd all love to hear them! Us moms and dads need to stick together on this eating thing! Leave a comment with the "tricks" you've gotten to work with your kids!

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Monday, February 4, 2008

Weekly Toddler Menu

Last week we made a lot of on the fly changes to our toddler menu (oops, forgot to buy eggs!)

This week I'm hoping to get back into the groove of following my plan! :) Because of this, you may notice that some of the day time meals are the very same. I changed things around some to make sure we are still balanced though! :)

I hope this menu is an inspiration to you in some way! :)

As far as dinners go, we are using Tammy's Spinach Quiche Recipe for Wednesday night. We've never tried it before, so I'll try to remember to let you know what we think. :) Thursday (and Friday for DS since it's a date night for DH and I) night's Bean/Beef Enchilada is Monica's... the one I planned and never got to a couple weeks ago. I'll be doubling it for the freezer! :) Haven't tried this either... try to let you know how it goes, but it looks yummy! I got the Broccoli Chicken Lasagna recipe from Monica too... I'll try to post pictures as I'm planning to double this for the freezer too! :)

Let me know if you try them before I do! :) I'd love to know how it goes! :)

Also, I'm almost done with the Stategies to get your toddler to eat series... scroll down for #7... and look for the final post on it (hopefully) tomorrow! :)

More menu plans at MPM!
Looking for more Toddler Menus??? Find them here!

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Sunday, February 3, 2008

When your Toddler Won’t Eat Anything ~ Part 7

We are talking about basic strategies for encouraging your toddler to eat healthy. You can read the first strategies and source information here before continuing.

7. Don’t be too encouraging!

We want to encourage our children, don’t we? We want them to know when we are pleased with them and the decisions they make, so why do I say not to be too encouraging? The basic fact is that our children are rebels at heart… sinful rebels! Before you click the comment link to ask how I can say such things about innocent little ones, think across the last 24 hours of your day. Was your toddler a precious, selfless, sacrificing, and perfectly obedient toddler all day? I doubt it! The truth is that our children were born depraved sinners in need of a savior just as we were, and until they are old enough to understand that and repent of their sin, we have natural born sinners to deal with who don’t know any better!

So how does this have anything to do with getting your toddler to eat? Well… it has more to do with how to get them not to eat really. If your little one is eating, and we are too excited or encouraging about it (“Wow… good job eating all your peas and carrots! Mommy is so proud of you for eating these healthy things!”), it is very possible you’re your toddler will decide he doesn’t want to eat them anymore. Psychologists will offer you all sorts of “scientific” explanations as to the reasoning, but the Bible explains it as rebellion and sin!

Instead, try to remain mellow about the whole process, whether your toddler enjoys something or not. This is something that is hard for me. It is natural for me to say something positive when my little boy is enjoying something I want him to enjoy. When I do, however, I try to say it in passing and not make a big deal of it. On the flip side, if my little boy doesn’t seem to want something, I simply back things up with another healthy choice by having a variety of options available and fall back on the “rule of fifteen”. If the rule in your home isn’t to eat everything offered, then there isn’t a battle to be had.

Just remember, if you are too upset over your toddler’s not liking something or overly persuasive about it, you are apt to turn your little rebel’s tastes in the vary direction you don’t want them to go!

**Side note: I wouldn’t normally encourage you to sidestep your child’s sin or rebellion issues. As I have said before, I believe children should learn to obey the first time and that their will needs to be molded by us as parents in order for them to be in the right place before God. This said, I try not to use food as the main training grounds for this! As I mentioned above, if you don’t make rules regarding how much or what is eaten from the beginning, then there won’t be sin issues to deal with regarding food in the first place.

When your Toddler Won't Eat Anything ~ Part 8

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Friday, February 1, 2008

Out of the Frying Pan...

There's nothing quite as fun as watching (and listening to) a 14 month old try to climb into an 8 inch fry pan! It is great fun. By the time I got the camera and could snap a picture, he had moved on to the 2 quart sauce pan (seems that the 3 quart would have worked better). :) What a joy to be home with my little one! I would hate to miss this stuff!

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When your Toddler Won’t Eat Anything ~ Part 6

We are talking about basic strategies for encouraging your toddler to eat healthy. You can read the first strategies and source information here before continuing.

6. Lead by Example

This one is hard for me… or will be when I start trying it. This means being a good example in what foods you eat. Are you drinking soda while “teaching” your little ones to be content with water? Let me tell you, you are teaching more loudly with your behavior than with your words! I’m not doing anyone any favors by munching a cookie while feeding my little one peas and carrots either! We try to keep our “bad” habits of munching sweet things to nap and bed times, but I know we need to get much better at it… and fast.

Basically… our toddlers are imitators! They imitate those closest to them… namely, us. If they see us munching on carrot sticks during the day and enjoying our cauliflower at dinner, they will be much more likely to want the same. Likewise, if they see us smothering cheese sauce on our veggies just to get them down or pouring salt over top of everything on our plates, they will want to imitate that!

Things get even more tricky when our toddlers get a little older and start paying attention to their peers! What are we to do when our little ones learn about sugary snacks or junk food at a friends birthday party? Or what can be done when they see all the yummy looking things on television commercials (though we take care of this one by not having a TV in our home at all)? If we can’t stop our little ones from being introduced to the things we would love for them to avoid, we can at least teach a distinction between what happens at home and what happens outside the home. If your toddler or preschooler asks for chips or candy like she had at her friends house, at the party, or at the pool, explain that those things are for other times. Help them see that food at home is different than food other places.

Just a freebee from me… make a point of getting excited about serving fruit in a fun way, or find a healthy dessert to make from time to time. If your little ones can get just as excited about the healthy things you want them to eat as the junk food available other places, you are winning your little one over for good health!
When your Toddler Won't Eat Anything ~ Part 7

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