Meal Plan 03/27/2017 - 03/31/2017

Spring break is officially over tomorrow! I have the happysads about this. I've had a lot of fun with Grady (and I haven't missed the morning rush or packing stupid lunches) but he's ready to go back to his friends and I am exhausted. Who knew having two kids would be so tiring? Y'all with three kids are rolling your eyes so hard at me right now, I can feel it.

I've been focusing on upping my protein intake for what feels like forever (probably a couple months? I don't know. My baby doesn't sleep. Time has lost all meaning.). I'm finally starting to feel results. My pants are a little looser, but more importantly, I crave sugary, simple carbs less intensely. I still have a sweet tooth but it's more manageable. I'm motivated to stay on this path is what I'm saying.

Monday: Roasted cauliflower "wings" (eye roll) and crispy tofu served with a giant veggie plate and homemade ranch dip.

Tuesday: Meatballs in tomato sauce served with steamed broccoli and carrots.

Wednesday: Chicken coconut milk soup served with garlicky green beans and roasted sweet potatoes.

Thursday: I'm going to make double the shredded chicken I need for Wednesday's soup and then I'll use it for tacos on Thursday with leftover roasted sweet potatoes and homemade guacamole.

Friday: Taco salads using Thursday's leftovers.

What's on your menu this week?

Apple Taste Test

Apples used to be one of the foods we could reliably feed to Grady and know he'd eat it without complaint. It didn't matter what type of apple. It didn't matter if it was sliced or whole. He was happy to eat an apple, and we were happy he was eating fresh fruit.

In the last year or so, as his picky eating increased, his love of apples decreased to the point where he would only eat a certain type of apple, and only if it was sliced, and he would try to remove as much of the peel with his nails as possible, leaving a sad heap of apple skin curled up on the side of his plate.

I refuse to fight about food. (I-refuse-to-fight-about-food-I-refuse-to-fight-about-food-I-refuse-to-fight-about-food-DEEP BREATH.) I don't want to spend mealtimes nagging Grady to eat. It's not enjoyable for anyone.

When we were embroiled in our #poopdoula days, Grady's doctor told me that little kids can control two things in their lives: what goes into their body, and what comes out. Obviously this doesn't fit every situation, but for us, she suggested we stop over-thinking and just let Grady sort it out. She gave us suggestions to support us, and we're doing our best to support him, and the "what comes out" part of the equation resolved itself in time. Now we're just left with the "what goes into Grady's body" part.

In an effort to stop over-thinking, and to let Grady feel like he's in control, I decided to let him dictate what type of apples we eat. We went to the grocery store and picked out an assortment of apples. We brought them home and had a fun little taste test (or as Grady explained it, we did science in the kitchen!).

Top, left to right: Granny Smith, Royal Gala, Ambrosia Middle: Red Delicious Bottom, left to right: Pink Lady, Golden Delicious, Fuji

Top, left to right: Granny Smith, Royal Gala, Ambrosia
Middle: Red Delicious
Bottom, left to right: Pink Lady, Golden Delicious, Fuji

We bought seven types of apples because I knew I would use up the leftovers to make Poppy's applesauce. If you don't have a use for a bunch of cut up apples, this taste test is just as fun with three or four apples.

We brought the apples home and Grady wrote their names on index cards. We chatted about the different colours and shapes, and Grady made predictions about which apples he would like best. If Grady was older, I would have made him write down his observations and predictions, but at five (and a half!) it took long enough to just write the names and I was trying to make the most of his attention span.

Next Grady put the apples in order from biggest to smallest. Then I washed and he dried them (teamwork!). I cut two slices from each apple and Grady put the slices on the associated card. He thought long and hard about the order in which we'd taste the apples.

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The test!

After all our prep, we were finally ready to eat some apples. We "cheers"ed each slice and ranked the apples on a scale from 1-10 (which quickly became a scale of 1-400 because of course it did).

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The results!

Warning: proud mama moment ahead. Grady tried every apple. I honestly didn't expect him to. He was totally unfamiliar with at least three of the types of apples we bought but he took a bite of every single slice. There were a couple he didn't finish but he didn't spit out a single mouthful.

In the end, Grady decided he likes four different apples. His favourite was Granny Smith (which was not a surprise, it's the only type of apple he's eaten for months,) followed by Royal Gala, Fuji, and Pink Lady. Before he did any tasting, he thought his favourite was going to be Golden Delicious, which turned out to be his least favourite after he tasted them all.

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It was an interesting experience (for both of us, I think). It was a good reminder for me to give Grady more credit. When I take my time and listen to him (and stop nagging) he's more than willing to work with me. And I hope he's able to absorb the lesson too. He tried new things. They weren't terrible. And I listened to him. I hope it all sinks in and this is one step closer to less food stress.

How do you encourage your picky eater to try new things?

Poppy couldn't contain her excitement.  

Poppy couldn't contain her excitement.  

Put Me in the Story: Personalized Books for Easter

Easter holds different meaning for different people but in our house, it's an opportunity to welcome spring, celebrate family, and enjoy some chocolate. Poor Poppy is too young to participate in the Easter egg hunt / chocolate fest that we've put on for Grady in recent years, but that doesn't mean she'll be left out.

Put Me In The Story to the rescue!

Put Me In The Story takes bestselling books and beloved characters and creates personalized books complete with the child’s name, photo, and a message from the gift giver! Reading becomes more fun and engaging for kids when the book stars them!

Put Me In The Story has lots of options to choose from, appropriate for different religious aspects of Easter (including non-religious options) and age levels. The ordering process was quick and painless. I was easily guided through entering specific information (child's name, personal message, photo, etc.) and in no time flat, I had a perfectly personalized I Love You Honey Bunny on its way to me to put in Poppy's Easter basket.

I was slightly skeptical at how the personalized content would be integrated with the rest of the story but my concerns were unfounded. It all fits together beautifully and doesn't look like someone swapped in different pages for different people; the book truly looks like it was custom-made for our honey bunny.

You can win a personalized Easter book and plush gift for your own honey bunny! Enter here:

{Disclosure: I received product in exchange for this review; all opinions stated are my own.}

Tiny Happy Tuesday: 3

Do you want to feel a little happier? Join #TinyHappyTuesday!  The details on how you can get started are here.

Before I share my tiny happies, I want to say thanks to everyone who's joined me so far. Last Tuesday started off on a good foot and quickly spiraled into WTF?! territory. Following the hashtag and reading about what was making you happy gave me a much needed dose of perspective. I was reminded of how lucky I am all day and I'm truly grateful.

So! Let's get happy. I'm struggling a bit this week (anxiety + no sleep = zombie Hillary) but I'm doing my best to hang onto my happy lifeboat and ride out the storm.

  • Sunshine! Oh my goodness, you guys. We've endured a miserable winter and yesterday, on the first day of spring, we had a bit of sun. It wasn't warm out by any stretch of the imagination, but it was pleasantly mild and dry. We spent the morning at the park and then Grady helped me wash my car in the afternoon. It felt absolutely fantastic to be outside, breathing fresh air that didn't burn the inside of my nose.
  • Spring cleaning. A few weeks ago, Shawn and I watched Minimalism on Netflix. You guys. I was fully prepared to roll my eyes and was shocked to actually feel compelled to purge after watching. I tend to hang onto things (I'm sentimental about objects) so it's always been hard for me to get rid of stuff. I attempted to KonMari my life a few years ago but it stressed me out because I could "find joy" and justify keeping all of my possessions. One line in Minimalism has stuck with me: "Love people, not things." It's been so freeing for me to sort through my belongings and acknowledge that getting rid of stuff doesn't mean I'm getting rid of people or memories. Six giant garbage bags of stuff has either been donated or trashed in the last few weeks and it feels good. My kitchen has never been this clean and I'm motivated to keep going.
  • If you follow my Instagram Stories you may have seen me talking about reading How to Talk so Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk. I'm still only about a quarter of the way through (I have found it difficult to stick with books for long in recent years; the lack of sleep has killed my attention span) but I'm finding it really useful. One trick I've implemented that's been bizarrely successful so far (no really, I literally rolled my eyes when I read it) has been getting Grady to write stuff down. For example: I took Grady grocery shopping last week. Since he started kindergarten, I tend to do my grocery shopping while he's at school so I only have Poppy to contend with. Anyway, last week I took both kids. It was poor timing on my part (late morning when we were all hungry and a bit grumpy) and Grady made my pay for it by whining his way through the entire store. We passed a display of Hot Wheels (why you gotta do me like that, grocery store? Why have a Hot Wheels display randomly in the canned goods aisle?) and Grady became transfixed on this orange van. He wanted it. He needed it. Never mind that his Hot Wheels have been sitting in his closet, untouched, for months. Now, I could have given in. It cost $2. I had $2. But that wasn't the point. We were there to pick up groceries. Instead of getting frustrated or trying to use logic on him, I suggested he write it down in his notebook so he doesn't forget about the orange van. I didn't promise he would get the orange van. I didn't suggest he ask for it for his birthday or Christmas. I just told him that if the orange van was that important to him, he should write it down in his notebook. And it worked. We finished grocery shopping. We got home. He made a few scribbles in his notebook. There were no tears. No exasperated whisper yelling in the canned goods aisle. Just an acknowledgement that the orange van sounded pretty important. An explanation that we were there to buy food and not toys. And a suggestion that he write about the van so he doesn't forget about it. It wasn't easy (it took everything in me to not explain to Grady for the hundredth time that we don't always get what we want) but it was effective and I won't hesitate to use it again.

It seems my tiny happies aren't so tiny this week, though maybe that's a good thing as taking the time to write this all out has been soothing. What's making you happy this week? Want to play along? Join the Facebook group and share your happy! Or share on Twitter or Instagram using #TinyHappyTuesday so we can find you.