Wednesday, November 30, 2011
My kids came downstairs this morning to find our basket of "Advent" books. My daughter said, "Yeah! Those are some of my favorite books!" The kids have been inspecting them and trying to decide what to pick first... but they can't start until tomorrow!
For my daughter's first Christmas, I wanted to do an Advent calendar, but she wasn't quite one, and I wasn't keen on the idea of giving her a piece of chocolate every day (and I didn't know about all of the other wonderful homemade Advent calendars like those that I've seen all over the web this year!) I saw an idea in Family Fun Magazine for doing a basket of 24 Christmas books... unwrapping one book to read each day.
Not wanting to splurge on a bunch of new books, I decided to buy a few and just count down for as many days as I had books. Then, each year, on Christmas, my husband and I give all of our kids a new Christmas book. (I also do this for my Godson and will be doing it for my new Goddaughter as well!)
Finally, this year, we have MORE than enough books, so I was able to leave out some of the "filler" books and I was able to include mostly favorites! As our collection continues to grow, I will either just pick 24 favorites, or if we get enough, possibly have more than one basket (perhaps one with young kid books and one for the older kids.)
Want to make your own? Don't worry if you don't have 24 Christmas books... if you have 10 books, do a ten day countdown this year. Other options are using library books, or checking out the Salvation Army or Goodwill for inexpensive books. I've also had people give me Christmas books- once I told them about our idea, they were excited to help us add to our collection. Not all of the books are great, but the quality is increasing each year as the kids get their new Christmas books.
Here are some of our favorite Christmas books:
Two favorites for which I couldn't find images are: "Santa's Beard is Soft and Warm," (This may be out of print... but I LOVE it. I had it as a child and it is a "touch and feel" book that is always a favorite. You also get to "snap" Santa's suspenders- how great is that??! ) "The Gift of the Maji," by O'Henry is another one of my childhood favorites- and has such a good message.
What are your favorite Christmas books? I would love suggestions since I'm still searching for this year's "new books," for Christmas day.
Here are some books I'm considering...
Crystal from Money Saving Mom shared my link in her post: Six Free Printables for Advent. Be sure to check out the post for more great ideas, including a different way to display the books using your mantel.
Disclosure: The images of the books contain my Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, I receive an advertising fee.
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Tuesday, November 29, 2011
I am so excited to finally have a "real" Bento box!
A few weeks ago, I used my Amazon gift cards that I got with my Swagbucks and bought some Bento gear for my giveaway and then used a little to splurge on myself. I bought this cute Urara Blue Dragonfly 2 Tier Japanese Bento Box.
The box was a bit smaller than I expected, but I'm guessing that Bento boxes aren't really supposed to be big. After my initial excitement wore off, I realized that I was facing a bit of a challenge... I was going to have to learn to think, "Inside the box!"
For my first attempt, I made two mini cashew butter and banana sandwiches on some new "mini" whole wheat sandwich thins I found (aren't they cute??!) I added carrots and cheese slices to fill up the bottom box.
For the top box I made a fruit salad with pineapple, banana, blueberries and blackberries.
In the bottom layer I have a clementine, kiwi, and blackberry fruit salad, and an extremely poor attempt at a hard boiled fish using an egg mold. Anyone have any tips for using egg molds?? It didn't come with instructions and what I did quite obviously didn't work!
I'm linked up to What's For Lunch Wednesday and I'll definitely paying close attention to the other links this week so that I can learn more about how to do a "real" Bento!
Monday, November 28, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Over the holiday weekend, I had the opportunity to share Muffin Tin Meals with my niece. We had all just returned from a long walk. We were a bit late for lunch and the kids were all starving!
My mom made quesadillas with leftover turkey, cheese, and guacamole. I quickly prepared some "Muffin Tins to Share," with carrots, red pepper hummus, berries, apricots, candy cane cheese, and a left a spot for the slices of quesadilla.
My daughter was very excited to share a muffin tin meal with my niece!
There had been some talk of going to sit on the swing behind the house. My daughter was still hungry so I gave her some quesadilla to take out on the swing, and also gave her a few pieces for my niece. A few minutes later, my daughter came back in and announced that my niece had gobbled the quesadilla right up!
This brought to mind a lesson that I had learned with my own kids- particularly my youngest: Never assume that the food is the problem. Sometimes, particularly with my youngest, I felt like "Sam I Am." "Will you eat it in a boat?" "Will you eat it with a goat?"
Sometimes a different utensil does the trick- My sister discovered this on Thanksgiving when my niece didn't want to eat any turkey. She put the turkey on a toothpick and my niece ate it right up (as if it wasn't the same turkey she refused to eat just a minute before!)
Sometimes a different location will work (like the swing.) When my son was one, he would rarely eat dinner unless he was sitting on my husband's lap. Sometimes he wants to move to a different seat at the table before he'll eat.
Sometimes the presentation of the food is wrong... cut/ not cut, on a dish, in a bowl... if my son is expecting a whole banana and I cut it for him, he won't eat it.
Sometimes my son won't eat until I put it on the fork for him and feed it to him (despite the fact that he's been feeding himself for quite some time.) Sometimes he's just not hungry-- yet. I often leave his meals sitting out for a while after the meal to see if he returns later. If he doesn't, I don't stress it. If I'm really worried that he's hungry, I'll offer him a healthy snack later, but I make sure that meal time is over and that having the snack is not connected to not eating the meal so that it's not seen as a "replacement."
I've often seen my two year old eat a food one week and not eat it the next. I've even seen him skip dinner, only to eat the exact same food for lunch the next day.
Toddlers and preschoolers can be quite a mystery.
Have you ever thought that your toddler/ preschooler wouldn't eat something only to find that they ate it when presented in a different way or at a different time? !
Check out Muffin Tin Monday for more fun muffin tin meal ideas.
Friday, November 25, 2011
This week's food adventure is all about tradition and family. I mentioned in my post "Good Eaters vs. Healthy Eaters," that sometimes we eat food that is not particularly healthy, and that being a good eater, for me, isn't just about eating healthy food. It's about enjoying food and being willing to try different foods.
All my life, the day after Christmas has meant, "Syrian Bread and Eggs." I'm not exactly sure how or when this meal originated, but I believe that it is unique to our family.
We start by dipping Syrian bread (which is a flat bread which looks a bit like a tortilla but has a very different taste) into a "dippy" egg.
The rest of the egg is then placed on a piece of Syrian bread. To that, we add bacon and "salata" ( a salad made with iceberg lettuce, cucumber, red onion, oil, vinegar and salt, and roll it up. It is delicious and it brings back wonderful memories for me of my childhood and my grandma who loved to cook for us. For me this meal is all about family and I'm so glad that my children are able to enjoy it with us.
Since my grandma passed away, my father has taken over the role of making the breakfast, and we now have it on the day after Thanksgiving, as well as, the day after Christmas. My kids love this meal. To them, it is "Pappy's special breakfast," and as much as they love eating it, I think that my dad loves watching them enjoy it even more!
Now it's your turn. What food adventures did you have this week?
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Thanksgiving is a time for giving thanks, spending time with family, and eating! Here are some tips to help make your meal with kids more enjoyable:
1. Start off your day with a healthy breakfast which is low in sugar, and high in fiber and protein. Since we changed our morning habits in an attempt to break out of the cereal rut , I have noticed that my kids are much more balanced throughout the rest of the day. They aren't "starving," and snacking throughout the day. Need some ideas breakfast alternatives? Click here
2. Instead of worrying about your kids "ruining their appetite," plan for, and allow healthy snacks throughout the day. If you're traveling for Thanksgiving dinner, bring along some cut up fruit, a veggie tray, or some cheese and whole grain crackers. It defies logic, but kids who are very hungry, often eat less. They become overly emotional, and are also more likely to crave sugar and carbohydrates for a "quick fix."
3. Discuss the meal ahead of time. What foods should they expect to find at the meal? What foods are they looking forward to eating? Tell them what your favorites are and what they were as a kid. Talk about something new they may want to try, or something they may have tried before, but are willing to give a second chance.
4. Let your child choose what goes on his plate and serve small portions. Small portions feel less overwhelming. If your child agrees to try something new, put enough for one bite on their plate. If they like it, they can always get more, but if they don't, they still have a sense of accomplishment.
5. Don't push too hard for your child to eat a lot of food or to eat foods that they typically wouldn't. Holidays are not the time for food battles. You and your child both want to have an enjoyable meal and sometimes that means letting things slide a little. My kids are great eaters, but sometimes they don't eat much at family gatherings. They are excited and they are in "unfamiliar" territory, two things which can sometimes make for "funny tummies." Plus, they are generally much more excited about playing with their cousins than they are about sitting down to eat.
6. Use positive peer pressure. If another child at the gathering is a good eater, have your child sit next to her. If it's an older child, you may want to enlist his help in talking up the food and encouraging your child to try the it.
7. Don't hold desert over their head as a bribe. When we do this, we often set ourselves up for disaster. If you say, "You need to eat everything on your plate (or have a bite of green beans, or eat one more bite of turkey) before you can have pie," you then have two undesirable choices when they don't comply; they either sit there without desert while everyone else eats it, which will likely result in drama, or you give in and allow them to eat it anyways in order to avoid the drama, which teaches your child that you don't really mean what you say.
This is where a good breakfast and healthy snacks come in, as well. If your child has eaten a good breakfast, healthy snacks, and a little bit of dinner, a small piece of pie shouldn't cause too much of a sugar spike. If you feel that your child hasn't eaten enough to warrant desert, try saying something like, "If you haven't eaten enough good food, eating desert will just make you feel yucky. What else would you like to eat before you eat your pie?" If the answer is, "Nothing," just say, "Ok, I understand if you're not hungry right now. When you're hungry, you an choose something else to eat and then have your pie."
Overall, Remember, it's just one day. What they eat or don't eat on this day is not that important in the big scheme of life. Do what you can to help make the day enjoyable for all.