Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Holidays!

I realize it has been forever since I posted. The holiday's are in full swing in our household. My youngest is Christmas obsessed and is in a constant state of utter joy these days. I can't wait to see his face on Christmas morning when he realizes he gets presents on top of all the other fun things the Christmas season has brought us this year:) I have been cooking off and on, but will admit there has been a lot of mac and cheese evenings lately:( I have managed to sneak some good family dinner time in, though, which is just as important as what is being served. I will be back in full swing at the start of the new year and am dying to post some of the recipes I have recently tried out of my new cookbook! Stay tuned. In the meantime, I leave you with evidence of what we have been doing during the holidays that has kept me away from blogging...

Merry Christmas!!!!

Monday, November 30, 2009


Tonight was a good night. A good, good night. Whoo-hoo! (Wrigley has been singing the Black-Eyed Peas song relentlessly lately. His version, though, is "I got a feel-a. Whoo-hoo". Too cute!)
It was a good night because my wish came true for one moment in time at the dinner table. I cooked one meal, placed it on the table and everyone ate. No arguing. No negotiating over bites. I needed tonight after the numerous fights I have had with Jackson over eating lately. You may, or may not have, noticed that I haven't been posting too frequently. I will admit that Jackson's stubbornness got the best of me for a while. I resorted to my old ways of fixing the blue and orange box or throwing hot dogs in the microwave. Partly we have been busy and my husband has had late work nights. So, it is very difficult for me to muster enough gumption to cook a nice meal knowing no one will be eating it but me. But, also, I was just exhausted from the efforts of getting Jack to eat. The tip of my iceberg was Thanksgiving. For the 3rd year in a row, I have hosted. I love hosting! I love the idea of cooking a really good meal made up of dishes that my mom has served for as long as I can remember. I don't remember a Thanksgiving without 7 layer salad or corn soufflé or the very popular Monkey Bread. Now that I can master those dishes and serve them to my family fills me with joy, even if it takes a whole lotta work! Of course, when your 5 year old eats nothing but a roll and then 10 minutes after all the endless dishes are cleared and cleaned announces that he is hungry, that joy dissipates. I really thought I was done. That was it! This is over-he has won. I was ready to wave my white flag and stock pile Kraft boxes.
Then something miraculous happened! We decorated the house for Christmas on Friday and my husband took over as food monitor. Something must have snapped for him, too, because soon after breakfast the kids wanted a snack. Adam said very firmly, "No snacks today! You can eat lunch and then dinner. Nothing else." Who am I to argue with logic? So, we stuck to this plan and the kids filled their bellies with hot dogs for lunch and pizza for dinner. Now, I realize this is not yet too miraculous since the kids like hot dogs and pizza. But, cut to today and again no snacks allowed. Dinner was Spaghetti with meat sauce. Notoriously, Jackson refuses the sauce and requests plain pasta. Not tonight! I fixed dinner, served, and everyone ate! He actually ate meat sauce! Truth be told, he did ask for plain pasta after his serving was consumed, but still! So, this is the new rule in our house. Snacks are no longer available! This, as you may remember, has been the only "expert tip" that had worked so far in this challenge. They won't starve no matter how many times they tell me they are! We, as parents, just have to stick to the plan and soon Jackson will be eating liver and onions! :) Stay tuned....


Monday, November 16, 2009

How I love the Corn Chowder....too bad Jackson doesn't!

I must be on some kind of soup/chowder kick. Even though it is still in the 80's here in Orlando, I feel like it should be cold and therefore, soup/chowder is appropriate.
No one in my family, except me, is big on corn. Even Wrigley says he doesn't like "pa-corn". But, I thought hidden in the soup it might work. I found a really good recipe on All Recipes and it turned out wonderful! Very flavorful and hearty. However, Jackson wouldn't even attempt a bite. Shocking, I know! I am starting to wonder why I even make dinner. Jackson's hatred for all things not named Mac and Cheese has started to infiltrate Wrigley. So, now when I tell Wrigley it is time for dinner, he says: "I don wan dinna". Nice! I am trying not to get frustrated, but it is getting increasingly more difficult. I feel really good about what I am serving in that it is healthy and yummy, but is it worth all the effort if no one but Adam and I eat?
Tonight I am going back to the basics and serving Baked Spaghetti. Maybe one dinner where everyone eats will keep me motivated...

Here is the recipe for the chowder, which really was good. I had a lot leftover and was able to freeze some for the days when it actually is cold around here. I followed the recipe exactly, but some of the commented suggestions sounded good, too.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Soup's On....

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup. Yummy! Well, to most, anyway! My dad, the repair hero, stopped by the house to try and fix our washing machine and ended up staying for dinner. It was a nice change to have conversation at the table that didn't revolve around how many bites Jackson had to endure to get ice cream. I can tell you how many bites he took-NONE! There was a debate between Jackson and I over whether a bite of chicken actually passed his lips. But, in the end it was concluded that the chicken touched his lips but never entered his mouth.
So far, the only trick that has worked is to starve him until dinner. And even then I only get one or two bites out of him. The problem with this trick is that if he doesn't like the afternoon snack at school (which, giving his limited taste buds, is most days) then he is down right ravenous by the time I pick him up from school. I try to give him a little something to tide him over. Good thing I do, because he doesn't eat dinner and has to wait for breakfast. It is a vicious cycle!
The soup, however, was a big hit among us normal eaters. I used this recipe from All Recipes and applied the suggestions found in the comments:
This made enough for the 3 adults and one child that actually ate. Plus I was able to fill 4 ziploc bags with one serving each. I froze those in case any of us come down with a cold in the next few months-nothing like a nice bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup to feel better!


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It's been a while....

Life has been crazy, but fun lately. We took the kids to Disney for Halloween weekend and then Wrigley and I took a road trip with my parents to Illinois while Jackson and Adam went camping. So, the challenge was put on hiatus for the last two weeks. So worth it, though, as we had so much fun trick-or-treating with Mickey and Wrigley and I got to harvest soy beans with my Uncle John in Illinois! What an experience! Support your local farmers:)
Needless to say, with 2 weeks of Jackson getting to eat Pb&J's and macaroni and cheese, last night was like starting over with my dinner challenge. I used the "expert tip" of re-introducing a food that was previously turned down by your child. Children's taste buds are ever changing, so what they dislike last week may be their favorite dish this week. So, Martha's (who needs no last name) Chicken Tetrazzini made a re-appearance last night on the dinner table. We got back from Illinois late Sunday night, so the chicken tetrazzini that I froze weeks ago came in very handy! Unfortunately, the tip did not work and Jackson chose not to dip his fork in the chicken tetrazzini, again. These tips never seem to work. I often wonder if they are really kid tested. I recently read on the cover of a parenting magazine that inside were kid-friendly recipes. Just what I need! I excitedly flipped to the page only to find recipes for fish tacos and meat-loaf. Really?!?! How old are these "kids"? Because I was 30 before I stopped holding my nose when I ate meat-loaf.
I did try something really cruel last night. Ice cream is a love of Jackson's, so half way through dinner I told him that if he ate half of what was on his plate, he could have a bowl. He said he would, and I quote, "think about it". While he was thinking about it, Wrigley ate ALL of his dinner. So, I served him a big heaping bowl of ice cream while he sat next to a very pitiful looking older brother. And, this is how different their eating habits are. Wrigley declined the bowl for more grapes! Jackson wanted to know who got the bowl of ice cream since he was choosing not to eat his dinner. I briefly though about grabbing a spoon and digging in, but I could hear that story being re-told in a therapy session years from now and opted to just pitch the bowl.
Something, eventually, has to work. Tonight is homemade Chicken Noodle Soup. Jackson's excitement of chicken noodle soup was quickly turned to disappointment when he discovered it wouldn't be out of a can. What has this world come to:)


Monday, October 26, 2009

A rough day.

Have you ever had "one of those days"? Today was one of those for me. Nothing major happened, just a bad day. And it is still going. I'll cut to the point of the day that centers around Jackson's dinner.
One of the few dishes I have perfected is Quiche. Adam and I have a cookbook from his grandmother's Georgia United Methodist Church fundraiser where all the congregates donated their best recipes. You can imagine how fabulous the recipes are and the quiche recipe is one of them. The great thing about the recipe is you can swap out the meat and veggie to make different variations. The original recipe is broccoli and bacon, but I have used sausage and mushrooms and it was just as good. In fact, I bought frozen spinach by mistake this week, so I swapped out one green vegetable for another. Long story short, Jackson did not eat at all. The first thing he rejected were the grapes and apple slices I put on the dinner table. Then immediately turned his nose up, correction-held his nose at the quiche (apparently he didn't like the smell). The fact that he didn't end up eating it doesn't bother me all that much. I remember being stubborn about not eating vegetables at his age and the quiche had obvious spinach. It is his attitude about the whole thing. Like he is personally offended that he is not being allowed to eat "his" meals, as he calls them. No regard for the amount of effort or time I slaved over dinner. Ok, it really isn't that difficult of a dish, but still! To make it all worse, the entire family meal time is focused on Jackson taking a bite. We tried to ignore it tonight and praise Wrigley for eating his portion, but Jackson kept bringing it back to him. Then he totally lied to Adam and told him he ate the whole thing. Luckily my husband can not be fooled by his devious plan and took a look in the garbage can. Sure enough, there was Jackson's portion sitting right on top. Not the sharpest knife when it comes to deception, thank goodness:) He was sent to his room for lying and wasting food. I threw in the wasting food part which I am sure Adam thought was a little petty. He didn't make the darn thing!
So, challenge is getting tougher, but I am not backing down! I will prevail!!!!!!


Cheddar-Broccoli Quiche Recipe (from the Treasured Recipes Cookbook of Snellville United Methodist Church)
10 oz frozen chopped broccoli, cooked & drained
2 cups (8oz) shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
3 crisply cooked bacon slices, crumbled
1/2 tsp salt
dash pepper
9-inch unbaked pie shell
Drain broccoli well on absorbent paper. Toss cheese with flour. Add broccoli, milk, eggs, bacon salt and pepper. Mix well. Pour into pastry shell. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Turkey...not just for Thanksgiving!

Last week was a crazy week for us, so I didn't spend too much time cooking elaborate meals. Jackson was able to eat hot dogs, macaroni and cheese and chick-fil-a all in one week! I think he was hoping my cooking days were over, but unfortunately for him I am still on my mission!
One of the staples of Jackson's lunches that I pack is turkey wraps. Nothing fancy-just turkey and american cheese rolled in a tortilla. So, I thought that maybe he would like turkey for dinner. Plus, I would like for him to actually partake in Thanksgiving this year by eating with everyone rather than crying under the table. I thought getting him used to eating turkey would help, so dinner tonight was turkey breast, mashed potatoes and green beans. Believe it or not, I have never made turkey other than on Thanksgiving! I have gotten better at it each year, though, and even "brined" the turkey last year. Anyway....back to my point. I had no idea how to cook this little turkey breast. I researched the internet and after reading endless recipes containing ingredients I did not have, I patted the thing with butter and tossed it in the oven. The green beans were an adventure as I cooked bacon, then added onions to the bacon fat then tossed in the green beans and added back the bacon. Not too bad:) My mashed potatoes have gotten a lot better over the years, but I think I need to stop making them. Mashed potatoes are a food weakness for me. I can literally eat an entire bowl of mashed potatoes and not think twice. My thighs usually take issue with this, but I am ok with consuming a whole bowl full of yummy carbs! Hence why I need to stop making them all together.
So, did jackson eat dinner? That would be a big fat.....NO! And I am sorry to say that the old frustrations came out to greet us tonight. There was arguing, pleading, yelling. It wasn't pretty. Looking back I realized I made some rookie mistakes. 1) My counter-part in this mission was MIA. He had to umpire until 7pm and the kids were not willing to wait. Without him backing me up, I was doomed. 2) The kids were cooped up in the house all day as I needed to give them a day of rest after dragging them 15 different places yesterday. They were restless and just plain grumpy by dinnertime. 3) I had made no dessert and therefore lost all of my leverage.
Wrigley, however, ate like a champ! I have noticed that he is quite enjoying this challenge as he gets to experience food other than Kraft Mac and Cheese. He couldn't even wait for me to take a picture before grabbing a grape off the plate!
Tomorrow was supposed to be leftovers, but I think I will give him a break and make the Quiche that is scheduled for Tuesday. Ok, to be honest, the turkey wasn't all that and I can't bear the thought of eating it again:)


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Battling Jackson's eating habits hasn't been the only parental frustration we have dealt with in the last 5 years. Parenting is tough. Everyone informs you of the finances, the sleepless nights, the loss of reckless abandonment that comes with parenting. I am sure if you are a parent, you have heard the speech I am referring to from either a friend, a parent, or the random stranger who sees the baby bump and feels compelled to tell you how difficult parenting can be-like you can change your mind at that point! Thanks, mister! But, I am referring to the emotional and, sometimes, physical demands parenting can have on you.
Here is my list of the top 4 toughest things about being a parent:
4) Parenting is icky! Not just the poopy diapers. Although those aren't the most pleasant things to have to deal with! Being a parent has enlightened us to all the disgusting things a body can produce. Sometimes I feel like I have the kind of experience that could land me a job at the CDC. I had to deal with a fungus behind Jackson's ear once. A fungus! I frantically called the pediatric emergency hotline telling them that my son's ear looked like it was going to fall off. The nurse giggled. And, my best piece of advice that I can bestow on young mom's and/or dad's is that when a 2 year old tells you their belly hurts-DO NOT put them on your lap! It is so funny to my husband and I how we can deal with puke in a way that we never thought we could deal with puke. Something that used to be so revolting is now just par for our disgusting course.
3) Working with nocturnal creatures: I am sure you have always heard that kids don't like to go to sleep. I heard it, too. In fact, my parents used to tell the funniest stories about how much my brother and I disliked bedtime. But, until you deal with an actual child who doesn't like sleep, you have no idea the frustrations that can come with bedtime. My sons have a solid political stance on their bedtime rights as human beings. One day, mark my words, Jackson will run for office on the slogan: "Equal bedtime opportunities for all ages. Why should parents be the only ones to stay up late?" And, it isn't just their lack of desire in going to bed. It is their endless amounts of energy that can be frustrating! I think Jackson should be studied, but I am afraid they might find some superhuman gene in his system and genetically mutate it to produce those energy drinks people consume! Wrigley, too! Every night around bath-time he starts to inform us that he is skipping sleep time today. "I not going to sleep today, right mommy?" Really!?!?! It does, however, make me feel good that life is so amazing to them that they don't want to miss one moment by sleeping. Still, I didn't realize I would be raising two owls.
2) Guilt: Raising human beings is such a huge responsibility. No matter what we do, there is always an element of guilt in terms of if we are doing the right thing. All that we do is being observed by them and they are little sponges soaking up everything. So, there is this nagging feeling of guilt when we slip and let our moral judgement be compromised on occasion. Now, please don't think we are bad people. But, realistically, we are not perfect people either and there are times where we say a bad word or gossip or yell at each other or any number of any horrible things. So, when I witness one of them exhibiting behavior that is less than admirable, I always think-did they see me do that? My father always jokes when he does something he doesn't want us to repeat and say, "Do what I say, not what I do". But, unfortunately that doesn't always work. All we can do it our best and hope that they take more good than bad from us as examples.
1) Endless worry: These days there is so much to worry about I think my head may explode. I have heard that it never ends, too. Even when they are 50 I will still worry about them. Their safety, their security, their health, their sanity, their happiness, etc. Sometimes I want to lock them in the house and never let them go into the big, bad world. But, then my mom brings me down to earth (and not for the reasons you think!). Jackson and my husband were off to their first camping trip and my mom told me she was worried about Pythons! PYTHONS!!!! I call her my "chicken little". There is always going to be dangers out there. The worrying will never end, so I might as well just learn to live with it!

In Miley Cyrus fashion, I should probably also include the 4 things I love about being a parent:
4) Smiles and giggles: When we first had Jackson, I was overwhelmed and terrified. My body had just been through a drugless labor and between learning how to breast-feed and sleepless nights, the thought of ever having another baby seemed downright insane! One day during Jackson's first week home, my husband came home to find me sobbing. I told him through the tears that although we had always said we would have 2 kids, I was now happy with just the one. Cut to Jackson's first smile and me telling Adam we could handle a dozen more kids! When the kids began giggling as babies, I did everything but set my hair on fire if I thought I could get a laugh. And even now, at 3 and 5 years old, hearing them laugh is the most unexpected joy. Sometimes I steal a glance in my rearview mirror to find Wrigley looking out his window smiling. At what, I don't know. But, no matter what I am feeling or experiencing that day, I too will begin to smile.
4) Working with my husband: I know that sounds funny. Like parenting is a job. But, it is. Just like any business, decisions have to be made and I am not the only CEO of this organization. We naturally consult on everything. Sometimes I giggle inside about how much thought, research and preparation goes into every little decision we make about the kids. I always think to myself, is this the decision that will send them to therapy one day? Making these decisions with Adam, my husband, has been a lot of fun. He has a different take on things that I have come to appreciate and look to when I am feeling a little crazy. We are very different in our styles, but have found a strong partnership that works. When one of us gets frustrated over dealing with the kids, we "tag" the other person to step in. It keeps the kids on their toes! Sometimes it does backfire on me, though. When I give time-outs, the kids will scream "I want Daddy!". To wipe the grin off Adam's face in those moments, I tell him that the kids know a sucker when they see one:) In all sincerity, I think it is good for the kids to have a balance. They need discipline, of course, but they also need some leniency. I tend to be the tougher of the two, but Adam also lets me be the good guy every once in a while! And for that, I love him!
2) Seeing my parents be Grandparents: I have figured out that being a grandparent is getting to experience the "things I love about being a parent" list without having to deal with the "the things that are tough about parenting" list. They have done their "parenting" time, now they get to soak up all the good stuff and leave the hard stuff to mom and dad. I love, love, love watching them with my kids. They look at my children with such love and fondness and are the few people in the world who are actually anxious to hear about the details of the activities of the kids. Jackson and Wrigley return that love and fondness tenfold. Recently I asked Wrigley and Jackson why they liked going to Mimi and Papa's. They simply replied, "Because they are nice". Of course, the ridiculous amounts of chocolate milk and candy probably don't hurt!
1) Endless Moments: Life, to me, is a series of significant moments. Those times when you force yourself to take it all in. I don't remember everyday of high school, but I do remember certain moments that were significant. A car accident on homecoming, the first Varsity football game I cheered in, the feeling right before we walked on the floor for a competition, the day we skipped school to watch the Bay Hill golf tournament from my trampoline. I remember sounds, smells, feelings from those days and telling myself to remember those things. I don't remember every date my husband and I have been on, but I do remember the moment I knew he would be the man I would marry. Moments. Up until I had kids, those moments seemed few and far between. With kids, those moments are endless. Everyday I stop and compel myself to remember what is like to see them sleeping or the feel of their hugs or the sound of their voices or the glee in their eyes when I am tickling them. Everyday brings new and different moments and I can't wait to experience those moments each day.....so worth all the frustrations!


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Steak and Ice Cream

Growing up when we asked my mom what was for dinner, the usual reply was "chicken". It is still an on-going joke in our family that whenever anyone asks about dinner, one of us will quickly say "chicken". The other night when Jackson asked what was for dinner, he followed up with, "please don't say chicken". Like mother, like daughter:) So, I decided to mix it up this week and serve steak. This would also give me a chance to serve vegetables on their own and see what happens. Since we are not on a "filet" budget, I went with top sirloin cuts and poked them several times with a fork to make them more tender. I like my steaks simple, so I poured some steak sauce and salt and pepper then threw those bad boys on the grill! For the veggies I placed potatoes, zucchini and squash in foil with butter and grilled with the steaks-tasty.
I knew going into tonight that Jackson eating was a long shot. But, I had an ace in my pocket
and its name is Twistee Treat! (Sorry, didn't mean to sound like Junie B. Jones!) My main goal for tonight was to at least get Jackson to taste everything on the plate. The last few
meals, I have gone with letting him starve if he didn't want the meal and letting him off the hook of even making an attempt. Twistee Treat was the carrot to entice him to at least try everything and it worked!
Total tally for the night: 4 bites of steak, 1 bite of potato, half a grape. Now, I know to a lot of people this sounds like a joke of a meal. But, for Jackson to even eat one bite of something other than hot dogs or macaroni and cheese is like getting me to eat sushi. Which, by the way, NEVER going to happen! Notice the difference between the facial expressions in my two kids.These pictures are a metaphor for their eating habits...

Monday, October 12, 2009

I'm starving my child...

Pasta, chicken, cheese. What kid wouldn't like that combo? Granted there are also mushrooms and peas, but still. Based on my small little victories last week, I thought it was time to take it up a notch and try and get some visible vegetables in our dinner.
The "expert" tip I tried this go around was to add vegetables to a dish that also includes "kid approved" food. For example, to get a child to eat broccoli-drown it in cheese. Chicken Tetrazzini is a great dish to accomplish this...if you are feeding any child other than Jackson!
I use Martha's (who needs no last name) recipe from her website (see link below) and it is really labor intensive for a novice cook. I end up using 4 different pans, I have to make a "roo"-don't I sound like a cook:), and I have to time things very well and really concentrate on the recipe. So, it doesn't help when Jackson comes in the kitchen every 5 minutes informing me that he will not be eating the dinner. So much fun to slave over a dinner that you suspect is not going to get eaten! But, I didn't get frustrated. I told him that it was his choice to eat and if he chose not to eat the dinner provided that meant he was choosing to starve.
Cut to dinner on the table, him eyeing the finished result and saying, "Starve". Now, here is just another reason a picky eater in the house can be a problem. My youngest, who is normally a very good eater, heard his brother complain about the meal and also said he would not eat. Picky eaters can be a virus-beware! I did eventually convince Wrigs to eat and he enjoyed every bite!
Now, I could have forced Jackson to try a bite. I have discovered, though, that this then becomes about control and I wasn't willing to have a sparring match tonight. Especially when the Chicken Tetrazzini was calling my name!!! So good! I heart Martha:)
Although I did not win Jackson over with my meal, I feel like I did win in terms of only cooking one meal and not allowing any arguing to happen over food. Plus, I have the last laugh-tomorrow we are having leftovers!!! MooWahhahahah!!!! (Imagine that sounding like Dr Evil).

Link to recipe (although it is labor intensive, this recipe is enough to cook one-freeze one. So, all that work will pay off again in a few weeks! Lucky little Jackson!):

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Spaghetti and Meatballs

For the first time in, well forever, I was able to cook 1 dinner, put it on the table and have all 4 of us eat it without any argument!
I have been making spaghetti and meatballs for years. As stated earlier, I am not the world's greatest cook. I'm not even the neighborhood's greatest cook. But, spaghetti and meatballs is my signature dish. Granted, it is not that difficult of a meal. And, yes my sauce does come from a jar. Don't judge. I have made the homemade sauce and my family agreed it wasn't much different than the jar. So, I save my efforts for the meatballs.
In all this time that I have made spaghetti and meatballs, Jackson has always opted for the pasta with butter and cheese and No Sauce! So, basically a plate full of empty calories and no nutritional value. I utilized, again, the "starve them 'till dinner" tip by not offering an after school snack, which really works wonders on my youngest, by the way. He sits down and practically inhales his dinner! As a working mom, I think I relayed very heavily on snacks. I would be so tired from the day, that I wouldn't have the energy to fend the kids off while I was making dinner. I am sure many nights they came to the table stuffed full of the goldfish they ate while I was slaving over the dinner! Now that I am able to plan their day better and have more energy and focus on them-no more goldfish before dinner! Watch for the stock of Pepperidge Farm to decline:)
I made Jackson's bowl with the sauce and meatball, cut it up and served it to him. He said "Hey! I didn't want the sauce!" and I said "Sorry, that is how it is being served" and then quickly changed the subject to saying grace. I don't know what got in to him, starvation must have made him weak for battle, because he picked up his fork and took a bite! I know because I was inconspicuously eyeing him over my fork. A few bites in we made eye contact and I witnessed a slight head nod and a smile. "It's good, mom", he said! He later confessed to me that he ate around the meatballs, but still! I think the best tip I have found is not to make a fuss. Don't beg, barter or bribe. Just serve and then move on! If he eats, he eats. If he doesn't, oh well! There is always another meal.
Tomorrow is sandwich night due to my son having a baseball game, but next week's menu will be more of a challenge. Maybe I am just overly confident from my success tonight:)
I have decided that writing the blog about a picky eater has helped turn him into a good eater, though. Is it possible the blog has magic powers? Let's test this theory. Tomorrow I am starting a blog titled: "Make a million dollars by sitting on the couch and watching my favorite shows". Or! "I will lose 20 pounds eating n0thing but dessert while sitting on the couch watching my favorite shows". I'll keep you posted on my progress. In the meantime, here is the recipe for my war winning spaghetti and meatballs (it is really quite simple, Giada De Laurentiis-I am not!):
*Any jar will do (I usually use the 3 cheese variety)
*Dash of sweet basil
*An indecent amount of garlic salt
*Dash of Oregano
Simmer on low.
Meatballs (mine are all beef as I am intimidated by anything other than beef or chicken):
*1lb of ground beef (I use the 75/25 and we never miss the fat)
*2 eggs
*Parmesan Cheese (about 1/4 cup)
*Bread-crumbs (about half a cup, give or take)
*Parsley (1 tablespoon)
Pre-heat oven to 400. Blend all together. Here is the secret which I got from Sandra Lee's Money Saving Meals (see link below)-take 2 mozzarella cheese sticks and cut in to small pieces. Take 3 tablespoons of meatball mixture and form into little patties. Place a cut up piece of cheese in the middle then fold the mixture over until it covers the cheese and resembles a meatball. Place on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray and bake for 12 minutes. Then add to sauce and continue to simmer. So yummy!
Notice that my youngest, Wrigley, is holding up his finger and not his thumb. We will be working on that tomorrow! Also, he couldn't be bothered to take the chocolate milk out of his mouth for the picture:)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Day 2-Failure tastes Great!

Turns out I went from one extreme on the kid meter to the other. Pot Roast, mashed potatoes and peas-not appealing apparently. My mom is Queen B of Pot Roast. It is a family favorite and one I have never been able to duplicate. I had a craving and the humiliation from the last time I had attempted it had worn off, so I put it on the menu for the week. I told my husband as I was putting it in the oven that this will be my final attempt. If it didn't taste like mom's then I would give up making pot roast forever. Well, true to form, at 2pm this afternoon the pot roast was headed to the trash until a phone call to my mom convinced me it could be salvaged. I shredded the meat, which was my workout for the day since it was pretty much a rock and simmered it the rest of the day with a Lipton Onion and Mushroom Soup packet. AH-Mazing! At least according to the adults in the house...
Jackson didn't even take a bite. My younger son , who normally eats anything put in front of him, took one look and said "I don wan dis" and proceeded to leave the table. Jackson at least humored me and sat for 45 seconds before saying he would for-go dessert or food for the rest of the evening. Turns out, food must look appealing to a kid. I tried making the mashed potatoes into ghosts with peas as the eyes, it didn't work. I would agree that the meal wasn't easy on the eyes. It kind of reminded me of what a prisoner might see every evening. But, us adults were able to get past the image and enjoy a very delightful meal! Jackson gets a break tomorrow as we are having dinner with my parents who give into his every whim. So, I see McDonald's nuggets in his future. Thursday will be back to kid basics-Spaghetti and Meatballs!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Day 1-Success! Kind of

For the first meal of my challenge, I picked a meal that would be high up on the "kid friendly" meter-Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup. Well, high on most kids meter. I also went with a few parenting tips I have heard from several friends on how they get their kids to eat. Tip #1: Little bellies can get overwhelmed and turned off by big portions. I think this one comes from Supernanny herself. Tip #2: Make food fun and Tip #3: Starve them till supper!
The recipe comes from the Queen of all things domestic, Martha (who needs no last name). I am not normally a tomato soup fan, but for some reason I took a liking to this recipe. Plus, it gave me the idea for the "fun food". Martha made a spider web design with sour cream and half and half, so I told Jackson we were having Spider Soup for dinner. I bought little plastic spiders and hung them off the bowl. I left him in suspense all day if there would be real spiders in the soup:) Come to think of it, that could be why he freaked out a little about the black specks in the soup (pepper). I made the grilled cheese into bats using a cookie cutter and we had our first Halloween meal of the season. The cookie cutter made the grilled cheese just the right size for a 5 and a 3 year olds belly and I spooned only half a cup of soup into their bowls. The real trick, I think was the starving part. They had both asked about dinner twice leading up to the meal, so I knew I had a chance!
Jackson actually dove right in and I was doing cartwheels in the kitchen! I couldn't believe it-could it really be this easy! Start a blog about your kid being a picky eater and Poof! But, alas, success did not stay for coffee as Jackson quickly decided he was no longer hungry after 3 tiny sips. The meal continued with several "Jackson, EAT!"'s and ended in negotiations of 4 more bites or no dessert. Final Tally- 1/4 of a 1/2 cup of soup and no grilled cheese. Success? Failure? I am taking my W and calling it a day!
Here is the link to Martha's recipe. Pot Roast tomorrow:)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

When I search "Picky Eater" on Google, I get 4.5 million results. Clearly I am not alone! A lot of websites indicate that this too will pass. Eventually he will come into his taste buds and he will open up to new foods. Don't be concerned about his nutrition, they say. Well, he is my child and I can't help but be concerned that he is developing unhealthy eating habits that will follow him his whole life. Right behind those concerns is a looming, dark feeling called Guilt!
The other issue I have is the time I spend and money that gets wasted on the various meals I have to prepare each night. Just tonight, the night before I start my challenge, I made 3 different dinners. A wonderful french onion soup and baked chicken for me and my husband, a hot dog (that went half eaten) and chips for Jackson, and a Kids Cuisine for my youngest son (who didn't eat a bit of it and ended up eating the second half of the hot dog!). I am not only a short order cook, but a short order cook whose meals get set back to the kitchen! I know I made my bed, but now it is time to mess up the sheets!
Tomorrow's meal will be, nutritious, delicious and kid-friendly! I am not the best cook, by the way-I have to try really hard to put together a meal. One time my mom asked Jackson why he didn't eat and he said, "Because Mommy's food doesn't taste good". Precious, isn't he!
I am not naive to think it will happen in one day, but I do have high hopes that one day, one beautiful day, I can tell my kids what I am making for dinner and they will say "Yea!" or "Awesome, Mom. Can't wait!" Ok, I will just settle for anything other than them throwing themselves on the floor and screaming "NO!".


Friday, October 2, 2009

A revelation

My friend told me that when she runs out of macaroni and cheese, she is forced to make her son eat something he may not want. She endures the tears and tantrums until he eventually gives in and eats. It occurred to me (and please save the "duh's" until I am finished) that if I don't allow myself the safety net of mac and cheese, I will be forced to stick out the stubbornness of Jackson until he eats what is in front of him or goes hungry.
When Jackson was a baby he had consecutive ear infections. We took him to a specialist and she said the pacifiers were not helping matters and we should consider getting rid of them. I told my husband that we could not do this cold turkey. Instead, we would need to gradually remove the binky from Jackson's life. Later that day Jackson cried and I immediately reached for the binky. It hit me. He didn't need the pacifier, I did. From that moment on, I never gave Jackson a pacifier and he never asked for one.
I now have a new binky in my life. It takes the form of PB&J's, Mac and Cheese, buttered noodles. These are my safety nets, not Jackson's. And just like the binky, it is time to get rid of them. I am, however, predicting more of a struggle this time....

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My new challenge

My 5 year old Jackson is as stubborn as kids come. He knows what he wants, why he wants it, when he wants it and usually can tell us how we can provide it to him. However, he is not a "Veruca Salt" by any stretch of the imagination. It is usually not material things he wants. More so, games he wants to play or a certain color shirt he wants to wear, or the position he wants to play on the baseball field. Again, he is not a spoiled little boy who turns blue holding his breath when he doesn't get his way. He is just head strong in what he wants. I actually find it admirable as I tend to "settle" for things that I never really wanted in the first place.
As stubborn as  Jackson is with what he wants, he is just as stubborn with what he doesn't want. More specifically food he doesn't want to eat. I used to believe that my lack of parenting skills were solely to blame for Jackson's unwillingness to try new foods. I felt like I didn't encourage tasting enough or was too quick to fix him what he would eat. I have recently decided, though, that his stubborn personality is also a component of the problem. I have tried several times to win the food battle, and due to a busy schedule and lack of stamina, have given up on numerous occasions. Recently, though, my concern regarding his eating habits is weighing more heavy on my mind and I have decided it is time to put an end to endless Kraft Mac and Cheese dinners for Jackson. 
Beginning Monday I will be a stay at home mom and will be able to dedicate more time to menu planning and preparations of home cooked meals. My challenge for myself is to be able to put one healthy meal on the table and have all members of my family eat without argument, bribing, negotiating or tears.  Can I do it?  Tune in Monday to see if Jackson will eat dinner.
I will be posting all recipes that I attempt and any parenting tactics I try. Feel free to suggest any recipes or tips you think might work. I can use all the help I can get!