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Flying Food and the Power of Words

02/06/2013

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Meal times are getting so much better now! When we first moved into our new house, Ali was used to having the attention of 4 adoring adults every meal. It was a big adjustment with just Mommy and Daddy who would occasionally be trying to talk to each other. Her way to get attention was to throw food. And it worked marvelously. She would even seek a scowl face that one of us must have been giving her, because she would throw food on the floor, yell “no” and then scowl at us. I scoured my parenting books for advice and landed on a suggestion from The Connected Child that positive reinforcement of good behavior is really the most effective discipline.

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I was skeptical. But willing to try.

It seems obnoxious to say, “Good job, Ali! You’re doing a great job feeding yourself! Wow, look at you! Can you put that banana in your mouth? [As she dangles it over the floor…] Great job putting the banana in your mouth! What a good eater!”

ButOhMyGosh! It worked. If I would forget to do it—to give her positive affirmation for her good eating behavior—food would fly.

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Above: Messing but she polished off a whole plate of food at our favorite Mexican restaurant!

My eyes were opened to how much difference it makes to Ali’s ability level when she gets verbal encouragement and affirmation. It’s not just eating. When she’s trying to climb up her slide and grunts because she’s stuck, if we encourage her, “You can do it, Ali! You’re doing a great job. What a good climber!” There she goes. Right up to the top of the slide…and then head first down to the floor (that’s her style).

I’ve also been noticing a physical change in her posture depending on what I say. “Listen and obey” is a script explained in The Connected Child as well. Instead of saying “No” I give Ali verbal instructions and wait for her to comply, pending immediate danger. If she doesn’t do it, my tone gets more serious and I say, “Ali, listen and obey. Shut that cupboard.” When the words listen and obey come rumbling through the airwaves, I see her straighten up her shoulders. She knows I mean business.

Likewise, when I praise her actions I see her body respond. The other day she was putting back the glasses case that she had taken from my nightstand (as instructed) and as soon as she put it down, before she had a chance to pick it back up again (as she often does…) I said, “Thank you, Ali! Great job listening and following instructions!” and I saw her head lift up with pride like an invisible string just pulled her up a little bit. She smiled with confidence.

How humbling it’s been to realize what an affect my words have on my sweet little girl. I have the power to crush her or to lift her up, just with what’s coming out of my mouth. I mess up plenty, and she does too I suppose. Thankfully, she’s always been quick to forgive me and I give her grace, too. We’re learning and stretching a lot these days.

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eMeals: Budgeting, Planning and Cooking Family Meals

02/05/2013

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One of my goals for the new year, now that we’re in our new home, is to cook more. I’ve never been too much into cooking and really slacked off a lot while we were living with my parents. My mom was kind enough to let us chip in for groceries and still do a lot of the cooking she would be doing anyway—except for 5 people instead of 2. (Thanks, Mom!!) Part of what has held me back from cooking more in past years is the time to plan and shop for meals. Jason (who is a very good and creative cook!) and I would walk through the grocery store together and look for inspiration based on what was on sale. That would usually get us a meal or two and a lot of random stuff. There was a Groupon for eMeals around New Years and after discussing with a friend who as used it before, I decided that this would be my plan for 2013.

So far, I am completely loving it…so much so that I’m writing this blog post! Every Sunday I get a 2 page PDF in my inbox with 7 recipes and a grocery shopping list for my neighborhood Kroger. The recipes are selected based on what’s on sale this week. It takes a huge amount of the planning out it and allows me to get great deals without flipping through ads, cutting coupons or wandering through the store. (Ain’t nobody got time for that!) I love that the shopping list is broken down by section of the store, too. It’s cut grocery shopping time down by half. At least.

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It’s also saving us money. The plan we’ve selected is the Classic Family Plan (the only one based on your local grocery store’s sales, I think) for 3-6 people. They also have an option for 1-2 people but my friend suggested the bigger plan because it yeilds a lot of leftovers. That’s where the second half of the time and money saving comes in for me. Often, I’m able to freeze half of the meal either cooked, or partially cooked following the freezing techniques of Don’t Panic—Dinner’s in the Freezer We also have leftovers flowing all the time so I very rarely need to eat out for lunch or take my former staple can of soup to work.

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This is Creamy Burrito Casserole round 2 – just after taking it out of the freezer to thaw. The recipe made enough for 2 good size casseroles.

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An unexpected result is that we’ve been eating out less. I never really thought we ate out all that much but having a plan for the week means that we’re very rarely going out to eat Monday-Thursday. We usually treat ourselves to a night out after work on Friday and a lunch after church on Sundays. Other than that, we’ve been spending around $40-45/week on dinner/lunch. That does not include things like milk, eggs, cheese, yogurt, fruit and other staples but for the bulk of our meals…I think that’s pretty good. The plan adds up to around $85 for 7 meals for 3-6 people. I’ve been choosing 3 meals per week and selecting from a rotation of freezer meals for the other days we’re eating at home.

Another, perhaps more obvious benefit, is that it’s introducing us to a lot of new recipes and new foods. All the recipes we’ve tried have been good, some have been excellent (salmon cakes, swedish meatballs, oven fried chicken, creamy burrito casserole). I’ve discovered some items in the grocery store that I never knew existed (panko, cheese soup). I’ve learned where I/we draw the line to save a buck…white bread sandwich rolls for $1? Head of iceberg lettuce for $1.49? No thank you. I’m willing to pay a little more for something we like better.

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Teeth Are Good for Corn on the Cob

06/13/2012

Our little Choongie loves to eat. Purées are getting less and less interesting and the rest of the food on the table more appealing. The other night she was intrigued with our corn on the cob so I snapped mine in half and shared with her. She was thrilled!

Seriously?! You’re gonna let me have my own cob to hold?

Her fifth tooth has been stubbornly working it’s way out and it seems like chewing food is particularly satisfying.

It gets even better, baby! There are millions of wonderful foods out there.


Phone Photo Friday

11/25/2011