Thursday, February 28, 2013

Monday, February 25, 2013

15 Ways to cure a fussy eater

Fussy picky eaters in your home? Oh and by the way they don't have to be toddlers to be fussy - I know LOTS of fussy eaters ranging from toddlers to adults.
What are fussy eaters you ask?  

Silly question I know but you may have become so used to this way of life that you think the grazers in your family with their likes and dislikes are pretty normal.  Here would be some very simple indicators that you have a fussy eater in your home:
*  they pull up their nose at the mention of certain foods
*  they hide their peas under their gem squash skins(or equally ingenious ideas)
*  they "accidentally" drop the offending food on the floor, or tell you the cat took it, or the dog - or the bird next door...
*   gagging (oh yes they can be very good at acting as most mothers will immediately remove the offending food away just at the thought of this one - oh come on be honest, so would you!)
*  they have a list of things they do or don't eat, or how they do or don't like to eat it - they sound like they are ordering food at a restaurant

How to get your picky eater to eat is not usually the problem.  If they were surrounded by their favourite foods, they would be quite content to eat all day - the problem is that they don't want to eat the healthy stuff, or the wholesome stuff or the unidentified floating stuff...

And to get picky eaters to eat certain foods requires strategy and planning:

1.  Camouflage
Hide them, the army does it through the clothes they wear, we do it with the make up we put on our face - simple camouflage works wonders!  Put some of those green things with the other green things that they DO eat and hopefully they won't see them.

2.  Cloak and Dagger
Hide them under sauce.  In our house white sauce with cheese is a sure winner.  They love the stuff on top so much they often don't notice what's at the bottom until it's too late.

3.  Nuke it
Blend those babies!  I don't care what it is - if you blend it they won't even know what they are.  Sometimes its more important to get those vital nutrients and vitamins into their system.

4.  Close ranks
Don't let your fussy eater, eat snacks before meals - I have seen some of my children have a look to see what's for dinner, decide it's not their favourite, promptly eat 3 apples and 2 slices of bread and then tell me that they are not really hungry.  Yeah right!

5.  Put on a Show
Make faces with fruit, dig tunnels in rice, make castles with peas and mash potatoes. Dressing up the food, like they have never seen before, will have them rethink some of the foods they always thought looked Yucky!  You may think this is only for children but how you present your food can often determine how people view what it will taste like.  Do you blanch your vegetables or do you boil them until the beans go grey and the peas look all withered, the cauliflower looks brown and the broccoli looks wilted.  Get some cooking skills:)
6.  As head honcho you need to lead the way
Oh yes you too! You can't expect your children to eat food that you conveniently leave off your plate.  They see, they take note and boy do they have ammunition.

7.  Leave Ethiopia out of it
Telling your children about starving children somewhere else will not produce any lasting effect.  But letting them miss a meal so they understand what it's like to be really hungry - might change their perspective.   I often tell my children that when they are fussy they are not hungry enough, because when you are hungry even a plain piece of bread tastes like a slice of heaven.

8.  Make sure it's not the enemy
Our bodies have natural defense mechanisms in place to protect it and sometimes the aversion to a specific type of food can also be related to their bodies just shouting NO!

9.  It's all about team
When everyone else is eating something, it's easy to follow suit, especially for a toddler who has never seen something before but if it looks like everyone is happy and eating, it's a lot easier to be a little more adventurous.

10.  The Sound of Music
My children do chores, some days they love it, sometimes they don't but put on some music and they hum happily along and will do it without a single complaint.  Get some sing a long tunes on vegetables or by vegetables - like VegeTales.  You could even get them to watch the DVD - look this might not be a stand-alone-I-will-eat-anything-you-put-before-me-moment but it's all about reinforcing a common theme.

11.  Try Try Try
They say (not sure who THEY are - but they say nonetheless) that a person needs to be exposed to something up to 7 times before they acquire a taste for something. Just think back to when you were a child - there were probably things that you didn't like then that you really like now - I can think of a few myself: olives, beetroot, mature cheddar, green peppers, sardines.  But somehow that can all change in a moment - it could be the 5th time of the 7th time or the 1st time.  Don't give up.
12.  Sshhhh!  Keep it a secret
Don't announce to your picky eater, you have a new food for them to try, and then followed by the words "I'm not sure if you 'll like it but give it a try!" You are setting yourself up for disaster.  Even I would be wondering what taste defying object you were about to give me - like the day I asked my sister to check if the watermelon was over ripe and she did.... let's just say, she has never forgiven me and always reminds me of this day.

13.  Let them cook/ create or make
I remember trying to convince my children to eat salad - just plain, regular lettuce, tomato and cucumber - but for some reason they were just not interested.  Until one day I put our pita breads, and each of the children were allowed to fill their pitas with a variety of fillings - from cheese, to salad, to bits of meat.  Before I knew it they were eating salads to my utter joy and they have never turned back.  I also find that when I let them cook they almost seem to eat twice as much, just because they did it!

14.  The Reason for the Season
Sometimes we go off food because we've had too much of it.  Imagine eating 4 bananas at home, going to someone else's house and being offered a banana dessert. Yum Yum - NOT!  We need to be careful of not feeding our children too much of the same types of food all the time, otherwise they will be put off.  Try to vary the type of food, and also how it's prepared.

15.  Stand your ground
Be sure that this is not a power struggle.  Don't allow yourself to manipulated.  I firmly believe in children being taught to eat what is put them.  Fussiness is rude and especially when  you are a guest at someone else's house.  To receive a long list of what they do and don't eat might ensure that you don't get invited back. (enough said)

Now you have some of the ways I have dealt with my children.  Of course they will always test me, and sometimes I get a little fussy myself - just ask my husband. But eventually if you persevere you can achieve greatness:0

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Out and About: Durbanville Rose Garden

My parents live in Durbanville,I grew up in Durbanville, well at least from my 12th year in life and I go there at least once a month to show my face, get all the lovin' I need from my mom and dad, and to add a couple of kilo's to my already ample figure.  (mom's cooking is great - totally old school - none of this organic, healthy mambo jumbo stuff which I do rather reluctantly).  

As long as I can remember I have driven past the Durbanville Rose Garden but as a teenager, who really has an interest in rose gardens?  Unless it's because your current teen heart throb is taking you there for a romantic stroll and chances are his interests do not lie in the plants.  

And so almost 28 years later I finally took the plunge (sounds far more exciting than it really is) and took my 3 very reluctant boys and my not so reluctant girl to the Durbanville Rose Garden with promises of scones and tea which had been advertised on the building which operates as the tea room.  This was definitely a winning idea and we all headed off on a Sunday morning to see roses and enjoy a real English delight.

This is what we saw: 

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3,5 hectares - 500 rose varieties and 4500 rose bushes!

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Sugar is sweet
And so are you
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Pointers for visitors:
*  The major disappointment was that the tea garden was closed with no apparent reason - consider packing your own picnic - however you may be lucky they apparently serve tea and scones on Sundays from October to May.
*  Flowers are not in bloom all year round. I know this sounds like an obvious comment but we moms don't always think these things through before heading out (or is that just me?)
* Lots of place for little ones to run, so no real problem taking little ones there except for the thorns, best to wear shoes just in case the occasional rose branch is lying on the ground.
*  It's free, the gates are open from sunrise to sunset.
*  Ample parking especially if you park on the Durban Road side.  They have a whole area sectioned off for parking, away from traffic which allows you to get in and out of your car with relative safety especially with small children or toddlers.
*  Lots of wedding parties come here for their photos so at times may require sensitivity -especially if your children love being in other people's photos.
*  There are no shops close by so if you did forget your picnic and the tea shop is closed, you're stuck. Unless you climb in your car and you can find a shop in about a 3 km radius either towards Durbanville or if you head towards Tygervalley Shopping Centre.
*  Not on the top of my list of things to do in Cape Town but lovely nonetheless. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Family Life: Why family traditions are important

Funny, I have few family traditions that I remember as a child.  Both my parents worked and were pressed for time and finances and so we spent very little time enjoying each other's company like I have the privilege of doing with my children.  And I do - count it as a privilege.  I have worked as a high school teacher (not a great one mind you - imagine a woman with a hooked nose, black flowing gown, slightly crazed look on her face and a broom) - and I have worked as a SAHM (stay at home mom) and homeschooler.  And yes we do work, hard!   I have found both to be a challenge but I have definitely preferred my time at home with my children far more than working in a commercial sense.
I used to feel envious listening to other people's stories of the things they did with their family for those well known holidays and celebrations, and felt like I had somehow been excluded or left out - until I realised that just because I couldn't remember too many family traditions of my own, didn't mean that I could not put some in place for our family.  And we have done that - from birthdays to Christmas we are creating repeatable, enjoyable, fun activities for special days and events.  And I am by no way the most original person but boy are there sooooo many resources online to come up with great ideas on what to do.  And I will definitely share some of these ideas with you at some stage in the unidentifiable future.

But besides wanting to be doing what everyone else is doing - there are some very real reasons that make me want to be part of some of these traditions and why I try to establish our own traditions and grow them every year.

*  Memory Moments!
My children remember these activities so well.  Then they say things like "do you remember last year when we did this...." or "the year before when we did that..."  I want them to look back fondly at our family life and  remember.  Not necessarily the specifics, but just the feeling of being together and enjoying each other's company.
*  Something to look forward to
Just by knowing the tradition, gets them even more excited about what's coming.  They start planning that breakfast meal or the card way in advance because they know what's coming and what we do.

*  Sense of Uniqueness
Each family has their own "special" moments.  Yours will never be mine: we're different, we have different budgets, our children are different which is why this is so fun, there is no point in comparing but enjoy the uniqueness of your family.

*  Gives each family member a sense of value
I love the look on their faces when everyone is pouring out love on one specific family member or when special words are written in a card.  Let's be honest, boys are not always the most forthcoming in words of love when it comes to their brothers, but somehow during these special times the words flow and I feel like I have a home of writers and poets.  Often I catch myself getting all teary listening to the things they write, of course an hour later they are rough and tumbling and shouting which almost but not quite erases that impression.
*  A sense of continuity
Traditions are an inheritance to pass on.  Cycles of continuity, doing the same thing again and again adds an element of stability and predictability which is good for children.  And hopefully I will see my children take some of our traditions and apply them to their families while adding some of their own.

*  Joy - which is just a clever way of saying - LOADS OF FANTASTICAL FUN!

*  Relationship Building
The more meaningful time we spend together, the deeper we build with one another.  It really adds depth to our relationships, especially with siblings who are given a platform to express their feelings for one another.  This can be especially significant - "I love you" has such power!

Remember it's not so much about what you do (otherwise you might fall into tradition-envy, trying to outdo another family, or just spending money which you don't have) but rather it's more about the fact that you DO them.  You don't have to overdo it, the simpler your traditions the easier they are to duplicate.  And then on a side note, there are times when we have totally missed some of these big events or have just had a non-event because of circumstances, and there is freedom in that too.  Traditions should not be binding and cause unhealthy stress, life happens and we do our best as parents but we are not always going to get it right!

Why do you have family traditions in your home?  Have you made your own or were they traditions that you inherited from your childhood?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Birthdays Bash: Ethan my 11 year old hero

Ethan - the one who perseveres, that's what his name means but who would have thought that he would have such a love for life!  As long as he is outdoors, or messing with tools, building or breaking - he's the guy!  He is the largest outdoors equipment owner in our house - surfboards, body boards, skateboards, J-Boards, skates. cricket bats, tennis racquets, balls, snorkelling kit - you name it and he's probably got it or about to buy it with his next birthday or Christmas monies.

As I think back on the last 11 years I am amazed at how much he has grown as a young man, and its always good to look back at the last year since his last birthday.

He helped prepare his first pork belly in the Weber, for Christmas and it was delicious!
Adenoids removed on the same day as Chad.  

He loves making a noise - I don't think Ethan even knows what quiet means:)
Team Player
He loves getting outdoors and is serious about his cap being the right way round when he does.
Sweet Lover
Serious about anything he puts his mind to.
Excursions are his life
Loves children

Always got to keep moving
Funny boy - always ready with a smile
His favourite jacket
Fearless in Orange
Loves his sister!
Happy birthday special boy!