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Chasing Babies... Growing in Grace: November 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Nutrition for Toddlers: Little Sammy

It's been a long while since I've done a Nutrition for Toddlers post.  A long time!  To be honest, life changed.  I have more babies... and older kids.  Spending time posting about toddler nutrition had to fight with all the other fun things to post about.  And the other things won.  Sorry!

But I have received email and more email about these posts and my menus over the years... and those menu posts remain, to this day, my most hit and popular posts of all time!  I have a handful of posts I wish were the most popular... but alas, the people call for toddler nutrition and menus.

Well just this weekend, I received another one of those emails.  (I love emails!!!)  And I thought I'd share it, and my response, with you.  I'll be editing both... and the names are being changed for privacy reasons.  Keep in mind that this is my answer to this one mom, but I know she's not the only one out there who struggle with this or my menus wouldn't be so popular!!  This is how I would try to address some of the concerns she brings up.  So here we go...

 Dear Babychaser,

I came across your blog while looking for sample menus for my toddler.  I have found your information very useful, even if it's dated back to 2008. 

I am going desperate because I don't think my 16 month old is getting proper nutrition.  Do you ahve any other information, printables, charts or whatever that can help me?

(and from another email...)

He loves french fries and juice! That's about it. He refuses most meals and he's even refusing milk. He was on formula, then on toddler formula and I started him on whole milk last week but he doesn't seem to like it at all.

I am definitely going to implement most of your suggestions (I especially loved the "15" rule)....  I am a single mom and I'm really beating myself over this all the time....  I am thankful for your fast response and I'll be grateful for all the help you can give me.  I wish I had more information to give you but the truth is, I haven't tried hard enough.  I relied on the formula.  Now that there's no formula, I've realized my mistake and I'm willing to make it all right.  

~Sammy's Mom

Now, again, I've changed names and I've left out parts of the email to keep this from being too long. :) 
And I must take a moment here to mention that I am not a medical professional or nutritionist... just a mom who has been down this road a few times.  Please consult your own doctor or nutritionist if you feel there is a problem with your child's nutrition!!!

That said, here's what I have to say in response:

  1.  Let's start with the french fries:  This may take more time than you are used to (depending on what sort of fries he's used to), but I'm going to suggest making a bridge (like I mentioned in my 8 strategies posts) starting with the fries.  Instead of fast food or frozen fries, try making your own from fresh potatoes.  Season the way he's used to for starters (then maybe you can reduce salt, etc. a little at a time later on) but use a healthier oil or bake them.  Try to get them to look the same (steak fries or stick like or whatever).  If he'l eat those, make another change.  Try sweet potato fries (similar texture and shape) next.  Same shape.  Before serving them for a meal, try putting them out as a snack... or eat them yourself and share when he shows interest.  Be very no pressure!!!!  Make enough for a few days of this at least and just keep munching on them yourself if he doesn't seem to like them.  Once he eats this, try something crazy, but still a bridge... maybe carrot sticks (similar shape and color and cooked so they are soft).  If he is used to dipping fries in ketchup, offer the ketchup with the soft carrot sticks.  If he won't eat them at first, offer dip of some kind whether he's used to it or not.  See if you can think of other bridges from here, or in place of the others if they don't seem to work (bread cut into stick shapes, etc).  Keep in mind though that rule of 15!
  2. Now for the juice:  I don't know which juice he is used to drinking, but if it's a sugary one, your first switch could be moving to a juice that is all fruit juice.  A great second step would be beginning to dilute the juice.  If he's used to straight juice, begin by giving him 3/4 juice to 1/4 water.  Next day with a bit more water... third day even more water and less juice.  It may take a week or two (or more depending on your son) but try to get down to as little juice as possible.  We've gotten to a place where we get them a cup of water, then add a splash of juice... enough to give color and a hint of flavor, but no more.  Reducing the juice intake (though still getting water into him) will reduce the number of calories he gets from the juice.  This (hopefully) should help him to be hungry enough to be willing to try some different foods.
  3. A thought about the milk:  Again, I don't know what you've tried already, but have you offered it warm?  Cold?  We made the change from a bottle (for my first) to a sippy cup at the same time we switched from formula to milk.  Maybe a different cup would help.  If you did this already, maybe he would take it in a bottle (though I'd try to get away from bottle when you can for the dental reasons, but let's take one thing at a time.)  You may even think about helping him to drink it out of one of your cups. 
  4. One more thing:  Try to get the most nutrition out of every bite you can get into him (whole grain breads, etc).  If he's going to be a picky eater, try to be selective about what you offer.  Reduce or remove sugary foods and drinks completely so he'll be hungry for more healthful foods.  Other empty calories like white bread can also fill him without giving nutrients. 
There are so many other things I could say (as you all know, I'm a talker!!), but I don't want to overwhelm you any more than I already have.

I do want to say this though... Please don't be too hard on yourself.  Parenting is hard (as is life!), and we make "mistakes" all the time.  And I'm sure this is especially hard as a single mom.  Less time, less money, etc.  All we can do is move forward and keep doing our best.  I will assure you though, that you are not alone in this.  God can and will help you with this (and everything else in life) if you ask Him.  I'd love to point you in the right direction if you have any questions. 

And I'd love to know how all this goes.  Please keep me posted... or feel free to come for more ideas if these don't seem to work.  I'm willing to try brainstorming more ideas. 

I hope all this helps... I'm emotionally involved now and I'll be praying for you and your son as you work to make menus and try some new ideas!

Many blessings,

P.S. My toddler likes the same chewable vitamins my 3 and 4 year old take each night with dinner.  If he'll eat them (or other sort of vitamin), that can help with vitamins and such that you worry about until you feel more confident, or even after.  My kids take them (as do we.)


Well... that's was my response.  And I'm glad to say that I heard back again from her with some more detail.  So stay tuned for another post following up and adding more ideas!

Anyone else have any ideas for Sammy's mom???  Have you ever been in her shoes?  Feel free to share some encouraging words with her! :)


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Our Special Thanksgiving... simply!

 This Thanksgiving was very different for us this year... and yet, very much the same. 

The same in that we were just us.  We usually are.  No family near by.  Friends invite us to join their big dinners, but we haven't in years. 

But different?  It was different because for the first time in years (since kids maybe) I made a point to make the day special.  Just for us! 

Very tasty stuffing... my first attempt.  Can't wait to eat the left overs!

We've been reading about and talking about Thanksgiving for more than a week now.  Learning about the pilgrims, etc.

Maybe next year we'll do some sort of count down.  Every night the kids would ask if "tomorrow" would be Thanksgiving. 

It worked because at 7:15 I heard all sorts of noise coming from down the hall as the children had awakened each other excited that it was Thanksgiving... soon they were running into my room, leaving a very displeased baby alone in the dark! :)

Mmmmm... and I may have heavied on the pecans... it was like Pecan pie on sweet potatoes!  

The other thing I did to make it special, was to plan ahead!  This isn't something I'm always good about following through on.  And not everything got done.  But some did... for instance, the sweet potatoes were cooked and in the fridge a couple days ago, only waiting for they very yummy topping to be added this morning (I subbed our Evaporated Cane Juice for the brown sugar, real eggs for fake, and left out the lemon extract.)

Last night I was making cherry pie and the cinnamon rolls we had for a special breakfast. 

My Beloved smoked this chicken on our grill... yum!
We simplified!  It was just us, and even though part of me wanted all the traditional bells and whistles for our special dinner, our little family of 5 doesn't need that much food!  We left out the mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, and even let the cranberries go at the last minute for sanity and energy's sake!  Having a "let it go" attitude about some of those things helped me stay a nicer and less stressed mommy!

We also ate chicken instead of turkey.  Monday or Tuesday I realized we hadn't picked up our free turkey from the grocery store... and they are always frozen.  Instead of freaking out or taking a stress causing chance, we decided to pick up the free turkey later and planned the chicken I already had thawing in the fridge for today! 

An extra step in simplifying for me was to let My Beloved prepare the bird!  He enjoys being in the kitchen (I'm blessed!) and with my permission to do whatever he wanted, it's even more fun for him.  We borrowed a smoker and put it out on the grill!  Mmmmm...

My first attempt at cherry pie... in a new pie plate.

 Yet another way to make it special???  Factor in family favorites!  My Beloved has been making little comments about cherry pie for years.  This year we actually bought a bunch of sour cherries to put up, but I had yet to try a pie.  As you can tell, it didn't go great... and it was way too sweet.  I think we'll cut the sugar in half next time, or just try a different recipe entirely, but it was special because of the heart behind it. 

Special dinnerware and glasses can take it over the top!
Another way I worked to make it special was to set a pretty table (disregard the boxes behind!).  Yet without loosing the simple.  The picture at the top shows our simple table.  The addition of a colorful table runner, candle and the napkins I let my daughter pick out for today made it pretty!  The extra special glasses that even the children got to drink out of made this a meal they were super excited about.

When asking what she was thankful for, my little Sweet Pea (3.5 years) said she was thankful for her drink.  Plain old apple cider in a stemmed glass!

Found this little idea... kids love them!
I'm not a crafter by nature... not with the kids anyway.  Limited patience and a bit of OCD that I got from my mother (she knows) makes me choose reading with them over crafting most days, but they saw this one in an email I had up the other day and have talked of nothing since.  They even deliberately saved the toilet paper rolls!  Every day I say, yes, we'll do it, but not right now.  Then yesterday I decided it would be a special thing to work on today.  We did have fun... and it took, off and on, all day!  :)  I helped a lot, but they felt like they were doing it and they are enjoying playing with them.  It was dark when we finished, but maybe I can get some better pics tomorrow outside!

Lavender... never flowered, but maybe I can save this!

Speaking of outside... the rest of our day was so delightfully spent... outside!  When My Beloved stepped out around 11 to start up the grill, he called back in to ask if I'd been out there yet.  I'd been cooking, changing diapers and crafting all day... I'd barely looked out.  But it was beautiful.  He grabbed his guitar and said I could send the kids out.  They were thrilled!!!  

Then I decided to join them with Little Man and finally pruned back my lavender.  It was  a little out of control!  I saved a bunch of it to dry. 

Cleaning up the yard for me.
 The rest of what didn't look as nice I tossed on the grass and Tornado gathered it up for me when we were done.  Such a helper!!!

That was our Thanksgiving... in gory detail! I hope yours was as special!


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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Living Books for Thanksgiving

A favorite new books doubles as a decoration!  Love that.

A few weeks ago, I did a search for "living thanksgiving books"... and it was rough going (ok, so I don't know if those were my exact words).  I didn't want just any books this thanksgiving.  I'm trying to stay away from twaddle in general, but I'm really trying to build my library with living books!

Finally I came across one blog that had some great suggestions!  (And to think it's the mom of one of my favorite bloggers!)

So I took her list and I made my way to my local library's website to search and request to my hearts content! (I love doing this!!!)  They didn't have all of them... and what they did have was pretty well picked over already in the Thanksgiving category.  But strangely enough, many of the "living books" were left untouched.  Sad commentary I think... but at the same time, very good for me!!!

So here I share what we ended up with this year...

Thanksgiving (A FamilyLife Book): A Time to Remember
This is one my library didn't have, but I decided it was a must have for us, so I ordered it!  And we've really been enjoying it so far.  I'm hoping to finish it tomorrow.  We've been enjoying the music CD that comes with it too!!!  And in the back it has a place to record what we are thankful for from year to year!  How fun!

Margret Pumphrey's Pilgrim Stories
This one has to be my favorite... it's written in novel form (for children) about the actual people.  It's the same story as the first book mentioned, so there is some repetition, but we're reading both anyway.  I started reading this one to the children first.  When I picked it up from the library, I didn't know what to expect.  When I saw that it was a little novel, I commented to the librarian how excited I was to read it to the children.  She asked how old my kids were.  She looked at me like I was crazy when I told her 4 and 3.  I only smiled and explained that we are enjoying the Little House series now.  Again... same face!  Who knew a 3 and 4 year old could sit through real literature. ;)  I may try to pick this one up for our own library one of these days... it will be great for the kids to read themselves when they are older!

An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving by Louisa May Alcott
This one was a little harder for my littles to follow, but we pressed on and I think it will become a favorite over the years.  A sweet story of "old fashioned" children in charge of thanksgiving dinner all on their own.  Very sweet!

Three Young Pilgrims
This one tells the same story from the perspective of one of the families.  A brightly illustrated easy read... we did this one in one sitting (the others stretched over more than one for sure!)  I really enjoyed it myself, and there were lots of little facts we didn't even read this year... will be great for future years!

And don't forget the turkeys... we got Turkeys by Ben Hoare (wonderful pictures and explanation about the bird!  My 15 month old like to carry it around and look at the cover.) and a sweet little storybook called Sometimes it's Turkey- Sometimes it's Feathers that the kids especially love to read over and over!


I know their are more great books out there about Thanksgiving and the pilgrims, but this is what we used this year.  


What did you read this Thanksgiving???

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

An actual Finished Project!

 A L.O.N.G. time ago, we picked out fabric and started this little table runner for friends of ours.  My Beloved actually picked it out.  :)

Then I quilted it some... and then I took it all out

And it's been sitting in a pile (literally) of unfinished projects in my bedroom. 

I console myself with the reminder that my main problem with the last attempt was that I was using a (unknown to me) broken machine.  Now, with my pricey new machine I tackled it again with dreams of making it a Christmas present!

Then I quilted it again.   

Not too bad, but again... there are only pictures because of this brave lady (she's doing a giveaway right now by the way... just sayin')!  It's choppier than it was in my dreams.  But I know that comes with practice.  And since this is my first attempt with a working machine (it was so nice!!!) I'm ok with it.  I just hope our friends are.  

And here is the back.  It really shows the novice in me.  But I'm just pretending I'm 5 years old.  It makes me feel better!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Long {enough} Hair... finally!

For along time now I've been waiting... and waiting... and waiting for Sweet Pea's hair to grow.  It seemed for a long time that it just wasn't.

Ok, so it's curly.  I'm sure that doesn't help.  It just never looks as long as it may be.

And it's very thin... and there isn't much of it.

None of these things help with being able to do much with the hair.

Oh, I've been able to do "pig tails" up on the sides for a long while now.  And pulling half up into one at the back.  And most recently I've tried braiding just the front over to the side to get the hair out of her face.

But this morning...

this morning I tried a french braid straight down the back. 

And it worked!  Isn't it so cute.  Look at that little skinny braid in the back.  I'm telling you... not much hair!

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Monday, November 14, 2011

I've been busy... and a finished quilt!

It's true... not around the blog (at least this time) equals busy! 

Back on the first Saturday of the month, we photographed a wedding...

  We had a lot of fun... but it always takes a couple days to recover!  Not to mention that it means hours and hours of post processing to get the 1800 images that we took (yeah... a little out of hand you think?) down to the barely manageable 800!  I'm still working on it... though I'm now in phase 2, and that's not as time sensitive! 

Meanwhile, we picked up 5 bushels of apples just before the wedding...

 And we've been making applesauce ALL. WEEK.  And canning it too, but I've yet to take pictures of that part. 

And I mentioned before the wedding that I was hoping to finish Tornado's quilt.  I didn't.  I was so close, but I didn't.  However...

As of last night (for the sewing) and this afternoon (for the wash and dry), it's done!  Took some of the last minutes of semi acceptable light to get a few pictures for you, and tonight it will be on the bed! 

Happy sigh.  Maybe tonight I'll start cutting out Sweet Pea's.

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Friday, November 4, 2011

I love this!

Ok... I'm loving two things today.  (Well, besides reading to the kids, dinner from the freezer, and a slightly caught up kitchen!)

Oh, yes, back to those two things!  Sorry.

First, is entrepreneurial opportunities for our kids!  I just love that.  I love the idea of five year olds growing and selling sun flowers, raising produce for a road side stand, and now, young girls selling beautiful things!  Growing entrepreneurial spirits in our children does a number of things for them.  In running a business (or helping alongside a family business), children learn about money, business, and work.  I'm sure there is more too.  In a sewing business, they are learning and practicing valuable skills... as they are in a cookie baking business, or other crafts.  Domestic skills, gardening, creativity... all these things can be fostered.

In addition to all these, potentially more obvious, benefits, our children (and especially our daughters) are being given experience and opportunities to help make some money from home for future families... enabling them to bless their husbands while being a keeper at home!  I love this

And the other thing I'm loving today???  Lilla Rose!

Have you heard of it?  I have a hard time believing you haven't heard yet because I have been seeing them around for a while now (around blog land that is).  I think they are just stunning, and I've given my hand at a few giveaways here and there, but otherwise I haven't paid too much attention.

Until last week that is... and for real, today.  Just today I was reading over at one of my favorite blogs and this was the post.

Two girls in this sweet family are now consultants for Lilla Rose!  (Ah, now you see how my two things I'm loving today are related!)  They directed me over to some videos on You Tube to see how hair can be styled with these special hair clips.

The kids and I watched all the videos they had... and I so totally want one!  Or three.  Or more.  Maybe.

I have plans.  I may just use birthday money to get a couple.  Or maybe I'll leak the information for Christmas (um... I believe I just did.)  But Christmas is so far away! (Ok... maybe not.)  For now, I'm trying to win a couple over here!

But this is huge for me... for me to find something I'm willing to spend birthday money on is a big deal!  So why do I want these?  Especially when I could hit Target and find 2 or 3 various hair clips for the same price???  Let me count the ways...

  1. I have a ton of very thick hair that comes to just about my mid back.  Not layered at all.  Traditional clips don't work great for me.  I have one (in all the years of my adulthood) that I can use just to put it in a "ponytail" without using a scrunchy.  All others have broken over the years.  I have no idea where this one was gifted from... and it's not anything special.  Just brown.  No where near this pretty!
  2. I always wear my hair up!  I bugs me around my face and it bugs the kids down around my shoulders... not to mention the little hands that want to play in it.  Then there is the fact that I don't spend a lot of time (read: any time) on my hair in the mornings.  A bun is easier, faster, and totally do-able!
  3. My husband really hates scrunchies!  I mean really.  For that very reason alone I should have burned them all years ago.  Yet, as I type, one holds back my hair in a low, thick, unbrushed (I'm going for full disclosure here!) ponytail.  Some little hair pretties that can actually hold all this hair in an attractive way... I'm not sure why I don't already have some!
I could probably go on... but these are the big ones!  I'd encourage you to head over and look at what Lilla Rose has to offer through Amber's (15), Kaitlyn (13) and Alyssa's (11) site!

And take a minute to enter for a chance to win a couple!

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

21 weeks down, ??? to go! (Oh, and some news!)

Anyone else know what I'm talking about?  They tell us our "due date"... but I'm convinced that's simply the day not to expect baby to come!

But the 21 weeks along part is true... probably. :)

All that said, I figure I should share a bit about pregnancy these days... since I haven't mentioned it in a while.

Sweet little hand next to face

First of all... it's great!  I can't remember enjoying pregnancy... ever.  I don't generally like it at all.  Maybe I'm just forgetting the good parts because they are the times I can do normal things, but I don't know.  What I do know is that I feel great.  (I should probably state as an aside that this does not necessarily mean I wasn't throwing up in the grocery store parking lot the other night on our way to pick up Chinese... nor does it mean that My Beloved was especially thrilled about that at the time.  Or still really.  But overall, I feel great!)  Except for the largeness in my middle... I may as well not be pregnant. 

A profile

 Oh, that's not exactly true.  For just the other day, I felt this little life move within!  I've been waiting and waiting for that.  They say 2nd, 3rd, and 4th (etc., etc.) pregnancies you can usually feel earlier because you know what to expect.  Um... not me apparently!  But finally... the little flutters of life growing in me.  Sigh. :)

And... this morning I had my big ultrasound! And...

It's a girl!

I'll admit that I was hoping for a girl... even up the score, you know.

But really, I think I'm just excited to know.  Sigh.  I like to know!

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Welcome November

... but first, I can't let the last crazy days of October go without comment. 

Saturday morning... yes, that's snow!

A couple hours later... that's a tree on our Landlord's garage. :(

Later Saturday afternoon.

Another shot of the tree... now that it's been there a while.
Everything was canceled for us on Saturday.  Not that I minded... I sewed.  All day.  All. Day.

See.  Ok... this isn't all I did (thankfully).  I also dropped the hem on a couple other dresses for Sweet Pea and something else I can't think of now. 

I started this dress this past spring.  I believe I shared the sleeve progress at the time.  Even mentioned that it was for when the weather got warmer.

Oh well... thankfully she has this very cute sweater that goes with it pretty well.  It just became a lovely cold weather dress. :)

Add a little eyelet in the spring and it works for warm too! :)

In other sewing news, I'm (hopefully) 24 hours away from being finished with Tornado's birthday quilt (last years birthday... hmmm.)

And I really have to be done in the next 24 hours because tomorrow evening we're picking up our 5 bushels of apples and we'll need to give every minute available to processing those.  Oh, and there is this wedding we are photographing on Saturday (have to leave here by 6 am)... and the 2-3 weeks of solid post processing I'll have to do after that.  I might not get to sew much in the next week or so.  At least the poor kid could have his quilt before all that! 

I hope.