Thursday, February 27, 2014

Be Careful What You Wish For: If You're Worried Because Your Toddler Won't Eat ... Just Wait

Feeding the boy who makes the 800-pound club is no easy feat.

When my 13-year-old was a toddler, I worried non-stop that his refusal to eat anything green and leafy and his reliance on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and macaroni cheese would surely result in malnutrition. His endless buzzing about would result in a lethargic lull of energy. He wouldn't grow. He'd get sick. Those were my fears.

But now, as the pitter-pattering of little feet has transformed into the plodding angst of pubescent-filled, man-sized Nikes, I realize there was no need for all that worry a decade ago.

My kids are now 17, 13, and the twins are 9. The time I spend keeping these kids nourished is increasing at an alarming rate.

Ten years ago, I never would have imagined that my little star soccer player would switch gears in high school and focus so wholeheartedly on football. His dedication to bulking up and his ravenous appetite have transformed me into the proverbial hamster on the spinning wheel. 

When the family sits down to dinner, he'll conclude by saying, "that was a good snack." In the early days, I thought he was just joking, exhibiting some teenaged bravado. It was no joke.

It soon became that leftovers were non-existent. So now I cook more, doubling and tripling recipes, so there are leftovers. 

If I make a meal early in the day and refrigerate it, I have to make a point of telling him, "Don't eat this. It's dinner."

Little brother following in the feeding frenzy footsteps.
He asks me to buy the 5-dozen pack of eggs from Costco. I don't have room in the refrigerator, I tell him, settling on two 18-packs.

I try to be one of those freezer-friendly, make-ahead meal kingpins, proud of myself for making up and freezing a dozen burritos. Then he eats four or five in a day. 

I find myself at the grocery store nearly every other day. Trips to Costco that used to come every four or five weeks are now weekly. I scour the Internet, the grocery sale ads, the Pinterest pages for recipes and ideas for filling the freezer. And he still opens the refrigerator and proclaims, "there's nothing to eat." 

He has a particular friend whose father is a chef and former football player. My son raves about his cooking (ouch!) and he eats a lot of meals over there. I frequently cringe at the thought of how much my son is putting away at the expense of another family. I'm certain that one day I'll receive an invoice that would surely total in the thousands.

Until then, the moral of the story for parents of picky-eating toddlers: sit back, relax, and start filling your freezer.

Monday, March 19, 2012

I Hope You Dance ...

Allie before the Daddy/Daughter dance.

Allie strikes a pose.
It's an evening that precipitates weeks of planning, coordinating, and general giddiness: the school's annual Daddy/Daughter dance. And now that Allie's in second grade, this will be her third go at it. 

Unlike years past, Allie spent many days agonizing over her wardrobe choice. When I brought home an adorable frock from Costco, she wrinkled her nose and quickly dismissed it. "I don't think so, Mom ... you should take that one back." Sigh.

So she carefully inspected her closet and kept coming back to a favorite fuchsia dress. Then she insisted on straight hair with a headband ... oh, and "diamond earrings that dangle."

Then there's the exchanging trade secrets with BFF Riley -- the shoes, sweater or no sweater, the plan of attack for the refreshments, the rehearsed dance moves.

And this year Allie even helped Brett pick out his shirt. Actually, she knew before even looking at her choices. "Dad, you should wear that pink shirt you have because I'll be wearing a pink dress," she announced.
Brett and Allie getting ready for the big dance.

Then on the big night it's me taking lots of pictures and Allie getting crazier by the minute and striking all kinds of big-girl poses and flashing her second-grade smile. She rides with her BFF and her dad (who happen to live across the street).

Much like last year, the dads manage to sneak in a dance or two with the girls, but the bulk of the night for Allie is gathering with a handful of friends, whirling and twirling, giggling and singing ... the stuff memories are made of.

BFFs Riley and Allie

Friday, March 2, 2012

Blake Turns 15!

Blake gets ready to blow out 15 candles on the fabulous Peanut Butter Buckeye Brownie cupcakes I made.
It sounds so cliche, but it's so true. Our kids just grow up so fast. The little newborn who had that Johnson's baby bath smell, made those adorable little smiles in his sleep, and kept vampire hours in his first months, morphs into the chunky-legged infant. Proudly scurrying upright, pulling himself up with the help of the coffee table, curiously tugging at my earrings, my necklace. Fascinated by the car keys. Throwing a ball and eyes lighting up when it's tossed back. Transfixed by the Teletubbies and Barney, giggling uncontrollably when Dad tosses him in the air in the pool. Soon he's in preschool and a new sibling arrives. Adjustment.

The first day of kindergarten sneaks up on us. I swallow hard as I watch my little boy with his spiked-up bangs and Scooby Doo backpack slowly let go of my hand and quietly enter the world of public education.

"Give a wave good-bye," the seasoned kindergarten teacher tells her students as they line up before class. But really, she's not talking to the kids, she's talking to us, the parents, as she gives us a confident yet comforting smile as she's done year after year. A smile that assures us that we'll all be ok.

The grade school years shoot at us like rapid fire. He is a sweet, smart, confident boy -- traits that endure to this day. Soccer enters his young life and a passion is born.

Two more siblings arrive and his role as big brother is solidified. Basketball, baseball ... but soccer still reigns supreme. A natural student, a sweet and caring brother.

A severe case of bookworm-itis hits: Harry Potter books are devoured in just a few days. Trips to the library and bookstore brings mega excitement ... until it seems you've read all the fantasy/adventure series in the store.

He continues to shine as a student and soccer player, making the big step to club soccer. But then at the end of your first year, at the end of fourth grade, the family moves out of state.

He easily finds his niche in the Valley of the Sun and quickly finds himself at home on the dried, yellowed soccer fields of Arizona.

Soccer becomes year-round, injuries and burn-out flare up. A short diversion into off-road biking develops. But the passion returns. A trip to Serbia confirms both his love for soccer and for food.

High school nears. Adjustments on and off the field are made. Injuries  and homework become more frequent. A pulled hamstring here, a hurt groin there. The physical therapist's phone number becomes memorized. But his team wins the State Cup and hope feels renewed ... at least from my view on the sidelines. A summer traveling to Boise for regionals. A fun time had by all. And then, a surprise. At least to me and his Dad. He decides to give up soccer and play freshman football.

He loves football and it loves him. A few months after the season ends, he surprises us again. He wants to return to soccer. And I'm proud that he tried something new in football but equally impressed that he had the maturity and courage to go back to a sport and team that was still such an integral part of him.

His 7-year-old brother idolizes him. He mimics his big brother by busting out pushups, listens to sanitized versions of his favorite songs, and even started eating eggs because his biggest brother does so frequently.

My teen now spends his free time going to the gym and hanging out with friends ... and eating.  He comes home from school and has that six-egg scramble with sausage and spinach as a "snack." My little boy has morphed into a strong, fit (he'd prefer I characterize it as muscular) young man, now taller than me. So many changes in such a brief time. Although I recognize the re-emergence of the fascination with the car keys is gradually returning.

Happy 15th Birthday, Blake! I love you!


Blake's 1st Birthday.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Knitting Bug

Allie is all smiles in the knit hat she made.
It happened sometime in November or so. Zach and Allie stumbled upon some yarn and half-finished little "scarves" created by Blake and Nick that had been buried in a drawer or closet ...

Nick taught Zach and Allie how to finger-knit, so they produced some long, skinny, loose, yarn creations. Instead of playing on his Nintendo DS at bedtime, little Zach would sit up in his high loft bed and knit away until his masterpiece was eight feet tall.

Over the two-week Christmas break, the kids started to spend a lot of time with some sisters who had just moved in a few houses down a few months prior ... five sisters ranging in age from 4 to 15. And they have a little 2-year-old brother.

The girls are quite crafty (in the craft sense of the word), so after they got wind of Zach and Allie's little knitting projects, they whipped out the big guns. They showed Zach and Allie their looms and all the adorable hats and scarves they've made. They even have a darling little flower loom. So in the past weeks every trip out has meant a stop at Walmart or Michael's to get a new color yarn. 

I love their enthusiasm and their commitment to finishing a project. And here, Allie is so proud of the hat she made that she wore it to school. Ok, by the time she got home the top part that was sewn together had come undone ... but it wasn't something those talented girls down the street couldn't fix.