Monday, August 31, 2009

Cupcake Day

I know that cupcakes are the rage right now. There are so many cute ideas out there, and they just look like so much fun that I want to try my hand at them. But they're not something I want to do all the time because first and foremost, I'll "blow up like my Aunt Roberta" and second of all, they just take too much time. So, drawing from my sister's "cookie day" idea, I thought I could do a "cupcake day" once or maybe twice a month. The kids can help decorate and we can share our goodies with friends and family in order to avoid the whole blowing up part.

I couldn't sleep tonight (hence the late night post), so I skimmed through Betty Crocker's cupcake ideas. I found some really cute ones. These ones are my favorite. They're called Surprise Cupcake Cones. They're so stinking cute and look easy peasy to make too. I think I'm going to make them for Clara's birthday. The cupcakes at the top are called Dalmatian Cupcakes. They look yummy!

If any of you have any favorite cupcake idea sites let me know. Here are some that my friend has on her blog:

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Few Good Reads

Here are some books I really liked that my kids liked too:

"Bears On Chairs" by Shirley Parenteau and David Walker. First of all, the illustrations are so stinking cute. Aside from that, the story is equally adorable. It's about 4 bears who each have their own chair and no one has to share. Then along comes Big Bear, but where is his chair? The 4 bears must figure out a way for all the bears to have a place to sit.

The next book is "Bark, George" by Jules Feiffer. This one is hilarious! It's about a dog who every time his mom tells him to bark, he answers with a "meow" or a "moo"- everything other than "bark." So, his mom takes him to the vet and guess what he finds? You'll just have to read it.

Then there's "It's Lovely When You Smile" by Sam McBratney and Charles Fuge (the edition I read was called "I Love It When You Smile"). It's about a Mom who tries to get her little baby to smile when he does not feel like it. We've all been there, which makes this book even more endearing.
This last one is "How to Bake and American Pie" by Karma Wilson and Raul Colon. This is a good one for the 4th of July. It talks about all the things that we cherish about our country, especially our faith in God (I really appreciated that part).

Monday, August 17, 2009

Christmas Shopping

I haven't bee a very good blogger lately. My thoughts and hands have been filled with lots of other things that are so not as much fun (no, I'm not talking about my kids). However, this morning I was thinking about Christmas (is it really already time to think about that?!). Every year I have a goal to be done with my shopping by a certain time, and it never happens. But this year I'm determined to meet my goal, and I have a great way to help me do it and I wanted to share it with you.

This is a trick my sister-in-law taught me. Not only does it help you get your shopping done, but it also prevents you from over-spoiling your kids. That's something I actually struggle with. It's so easy to want to give them all the things we know they'd love, but I just have to constantly remind myself that they're better off without everything. I feel like the less they have, the more likely they are to appreciate what they do have. Anyway, here's the trick:
My sister-in-law only gets her kids 5 things:
  1. something from Santa
  2. something they want
  3. something they need
  4. something to wear
  5. something to read
Obviously you don't have to stick with that exactly. You could change it around a little or add something, like "something to watch" or "something to listen to."
This year I am determined to stick to this guideline and not be tempted to get just one extra thing that I know my kids will love. The past five Christmases have taught me that kids don't need much. They're happy with the simplest things. I don't want to ruin that by spoiling them too much.
Good luck being Santa this year. I hope you like this shopping trick. As always, feel free to add your tid-bits of wisdom.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Carnation Explanation

In my last post I mentioned that I put Carnation in Clara's milk, and a couple people asked about that. The reason I do that is kind of a long story, but I'll try to make it brief. Clara was recently (a month ago) diagnosed with Celiac Disease. That means she can't have gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. If you'd like to learn more about the disease, click here. As if having to rid our household of wheat wasn't challenging enough, lactose intolerance also goes hand in hand with Celiac disease. Fortunately, once the villi grow back she should be able to digest lactose just fine (again, if you want to know what I'm talking about, click here).

You're probably still wondering what Carnation has to do with being lactose intolerant. Well, since Clara can't have regular milk, I have to give her Lactaid or Soy milk. She can tell the difference, so I'm masking their flavors with Carnation. Plus, the Carnation gives her the vitamins and things her body has been deprived of because of the gluten in her system.

At first she was hesitant to this new "milk," but once she actually tried it she was hooked. She actually drinks this way better than real milk. Once we go back to good ol' regular cow juice, I'm nervous she won't want to. We may have to keep putting the Carnation in it.

Because of this recent diagnosis that thrust our family into a gluten free world, I'll probably have some posts dedicated to Celiac and gluten free eating. If any of you or your children have Celiac, I would love some advice. I've already been given some great advice from family (my brother found out he had it a couple years ago) and a dietitian, but I'll use all that I can get. It's going to be quite an adjustment.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Manners, Food and A Pat On the Back

We have been trying desperately to teach Noah some manners at the dinner table. I'm not talking about the obvious ones: use a napkin instead of your sleeve, don't burp, sit still, chew with your mouth closed, etc. Those are all worthy things to be addressed by all parents, but it's kind of hard to teach your child to chew with his mouth closed when he won't even put the food given him into his mouth. Yes, we have a picky eater, and I know most of you can empathize. I know this is a common dilemma, but unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a common solution.

We've tried several things: force feeding (this only created a bigger tantrum and a mess all over him, me, and the floor), sending him to bed upon his boisterous refusal to eat (this punishment was quickly abolished when it was very clear he wanted this more than eating), making him sit at the table until he'd at least had one bite (while we endured his incessant wailing), and finally, feeding the "disgusting" food to him for every meal until he gave in (he never gave in, but rather, began to waste away before our eyes).

This brings us to our latest and final tactic. We've decided this a battle we do not want to make any harder than it already is. So, here's the rule: if he says anything rude about the food (says it's disgusting, yucky, or if he just plane fusses and whines about it) he is reprimanded and told that such things hurt Mommy's feelings. Then he is politely told he doesn't have to eat it and he can go play in another room while we enjoy a nice meal. But, he'll probably get really hungry because he won't get to eat until the next meal (the next meal will NOT be the food he refused because we've learned that he WILL let himself starve first). So far this has worked pretty well. The tantrums have decreased and meal times are quieter now. But I wasn't sure if he was really learning anything, until today.

Today I had one of those reassuring moments that told me all our efforts to teach Noah some manners are not in vain. Here's what happened:

We were at one of my cute sister's-in-law house during lunch time. She so kindly made us all tuna fish and tomato sandwiches. I knew Noah would not want to eat them since he is the pickiest eater on the planet (a title my sister-in-law challenged with one of her own children). But, I wasn't going to say anything, since I wanted to teach him that this was the food we were given, so this is what we're going to eat. As we all began to eat our yummy sandwiches, I eyed him nervously, ready to be embarrassed by my picky eater. He looked at everyone eating their sandwiches, then looked at the one sitting on his plate. He pulled it apart to reveal the tuna fish and diced pickles. I saw the nervous look on his face. Then the biggest surprise came. He put the sandwich back together, lifted it to his mouth, and took a bite! I tried to hide the relief that swelled within me.

The taste, I could tell, was a bit of a shock, but he was such a good sport. He chewed and chewed and tried his best to be a good boy and eat the food his nice aunt made for him. But, he just couldn't do it any longer. Pretty soon, my relief was squelched when I saw him spit the now mushy food onto his plate. I again geared myself for rude words like, "gross" or "yuck." But, again I was surprised. He said "I choked," which really means he gagged. Then he quietly said, "I'm not hungry. I don't want to eat."

I was so proud of him, and you might wonder why. Well, here are the reasons. One, he didn't say anything rude about the food. Two, he didn't throw a fit about the possibility of eating it. Three, and most importantly, he TRIED IT! He NEVER tries food at home that he's nervous about. I was so happy.

Later, I made sure and told him how proud I was at the way he behaved. He said excitedly, "I didn't say 'disgusting'!" Even though he's yet to show such nice manners at home, I'm glad to know he has learned something. Pretty soon, if we stay consistent with this, he'll show those same nice behaviors at our dinner table at home. I have a feeling it will be a while, but it's nice to know the possibility is there and that our efforts aren't for nothing.

So, the moral of the story is:

Keep at it! You never know how much your children are learning, so keep trying!

Also, when it comes to teaching your kids to eat, I think it's one of those things you have to customize to your child. They all respond so differently. What we're doing might not work for your kids. You just have to find what sort of works and be consistent with it. For some more ideas, here's my whole game plan for teaching my kids to eat:
  • For breakfast and lunch, I almost always try to fix something I know they WILL eat. I reserve the teaching time for dinner (because Dad's usually home at dinner, and he'd much rather eat something other than mac and cheese)
  • Since Noah's been so difficult, we've started early with Clara. If she doesn't eat what I fix for dinner, I don't worry about it. Even though she's young and small, I'm still going to expect that she eats what she's given. She guzzles her milk, and we have to put Carnation in it, so she's getting lots good stuff that way. Plus, she's not as picky as Noah, so she does usually try new things and I definitely don't want to lose that.

I'm always up for advice since I pretty much don't know what I'm doing.

Monday, August 3, 2009

FHE Lesson

During fast & testimony meeting yesterday I could see by the look on Noah's face that he was a little confused why so many people were just getting up and talking. I quickly explained they were bearing their testimonies, and mostly out of curiosity as to what he'd say, I asked him if he'd like to bear his testimony. To my surprise he said yes. This from the kid who won't even stand up with the primary to sing in sacrament meeting. Luckily we had a few minutes to wait while other people bore their testimonies, so I explained things we talk about in a testimony. I hoped by doing this we could avoid an embarrassing situation by him talking into the microphone about a bug he killed or something.

When it was finally our turn to go up and we made it all the way to the stand, he got cold feet. Surprise, surprise. At least it forced me to share my testimony, which is always a good thing. On our way back to our seat, he had decided he DID want to do it, but I wasn't going back up just so he could change his mind again. I told him he'd have another chance to do it when we have another one of these special meetings.

The reason I share this little experience is because it was my inspiration for our FHE lesson tonight. Can you guess what it was on? Yep. Testimonies. Here's what we did:

  • Started with a prayer, of course, but we forgot a hymn (it was planned last minute)
  • I reminded Noah about church yesterday and how people were getting up to bear their testimonies.
  • Dad told us what a testimony is: the witness you have that something is true
  • The Holy Ghost whispers to our hearts if something is true. (By the way, kudos to his primary teachers! He knew that the Holy Ghost doesn't have a body. I'm pretty sure I've never taught him that, although I really shouldn't admit it.)
  • Read the following the scriptures: Ether 4:11 & Moroni 10:4-5
  • Asked Noah "What are some things we bear our testimonies about?" Then I told him: Jesus, the atonement, Joseph Smith, Pres. Monson, etc.
  • Then we had our own little family testimony meeting. I started, then Dad, and Noah ended it. Noah didn't really know what he was doing, but he had the right idea.
  • The Spirit was so strong, and we made sure to point out to Noah the feeling he felt was the Holy Ghost telling him the things we said were true.
  • ended with a prayer

It was a very nice FHE. It was very short (that's always best with little kids), but the sweetest Spirit filled our home. I know Noah could feel it because of the how reverent he was as we all bore our testimonies. I think it was one of the nicest FHEs we've ever had.

Tip #1: One thing I've learned when teaching young kids is less is more. I try not to get too wordy or his attention will be out the window.

Tip #2: When reading scriptures, don't just read it and be done. Explain what words mean as you read. For instance, the scripture in Moroni says to "ask God." I asked Noah what that means, then explained that it means to pray.

Feel free to add your own suggestions to this little FHE Lesson.