30 April 2011

Testing out my mobile posting capabilities. Gotta love technology!

27 April 2011

From Laughter to Love

Kids say the darnedest things, don't they? While leaving Target with our shopping cart filled with $100 worth of diapers, wipes and craft supplies, EC spotted a woman dressed head-to-toe in spandex. She quickly pointed out the woman and said, "Mommy, look she's a superhero!" Not sure if that woman heard her, but I know that the day that something mortifying comes out of her mouth is close at hand and I'm not looking forward to it.

EC pointed out one day that "Mommy has the hugest butt in the whole world!" Its no coincidence that I'm currently struggling my way through Weight Watchers. When she was pretending to be Daddy one day and said in her deep daddy voice that "Daddys don't play toys," G decided it might be important for him to take five minutes each morning to play with the girls before rushing off to work. Kids have an interesting perspective on the world - it is unfiltered and void of political correctness. And as much as I worry about what might come one day, I have to admit that I'm enjoying the humor of it all now. A really good laugh is the perfect antidote to a difficult day and I love having these stories to share with G.

The other thing about EC getting older, more aware of the things around her, and better able to articulate what she's trying to say is that she really gets it when she says, "I love you." She will run up, throw her arms around me and say, "I love you, Mommy!" unprompted. Those moments are even better than the humorous ones. For no matter how challenging the day, it is impossible to be anything other than happy when ambushed by a toddler who just wants to express her love for you.

25 April 2011

Through a Child's Eyes

One of the many ways that my kids pay me back for all the diapers I change and all the toys I step on every day is by allowing me to see all the wonders of the holidays through their eyes. Let's face it, for most of us, the magic of Christmas and the Easter Bunny faded long ago. And while giving gifts and baking cookies are nice, it is hard to regain that magical feeling that you had when you believed that Santa ruled the north pole and the Easter Bunny laid chocolate eggs.

Kids allow us to recapture the holidays of our youth. Yesterday, while the girls were running around the house looking for their hidden baskets and through the yard in search of plastic Easter eggs, I was thinking about how much more fun the holidays are now that we have kids to enjoy them with. Sometimes, I get caught up lamenting all the things I can no longer do because I have kids or focusing on how hard my days are chasing toddlers. And then I have a day like yesterday which was way more fun because there were some little people to share it with.

Yes, G and I have enjoyed many Easter Sundays with family eating too much ham and snoozing on the sofa after dinner. However, watching the girls' faces light up when they realized that it was finally Easter morning and that there were stuffed baskets waiting for them somewhere in the house was magical and the mood was contagious. For a few hours at least, the focus was on chocolate bunnies and happy laughter as the girls tried out their new toys. The sister fights were temporarily on hold as they shared their plastic eggs filled with treats. I smiled, knowing that it would all return to normal soon, but that for one day, I would remember what it was like to be a little girl who believed in holiday magic.

22 April 2011

Single Income, Two Kids

Sometimes, I remember fondly the days when we were DINKs (double income, no kids). They were flush. And I sometimes look back and think of how foolishly money gets spent when you have enough of it. Sailing vacations, dinner eaten out on an all-too-regular basis, rounds of drinks at the bar with your friends and your friends' friends, and all the little splurges that we "need" on a regular basis - daily latte at Starbucks, full price magazines from the drugstore instead of paying a percentage of the cost for a subscription, etc. Where did our money go when we were living with two incomes and no kids to support? It must have gone somewhere, because we've been living on one income for over three years and surviving.

I think the same thing happens with our time. Before we had kids, we had so much time on our hands. Free time! G and I always had plenty of activities to fill our weekends and holidays, but we also had a lot of leisure time. Lazy mornings spent making pancakes and reading the paper were pretty common. Evenings spent on the back porch doing nothing but grilling a couple burgers and talking over a beer. Getting time to go out with our friends wasn't a request that required weeks of advance notice and schedule coordination. You want to go hiking with the guys for the weekend? Fine, I'll let the girls know that we're going out that night.

Its just not like that anymore. Much like our money, our time has to be budgeted pretty carefully. G has a limited amount of time with the girls - an hour before leaving for work and an hour when he gets home. During this two hour window, breakfast is eaten, dinner is served, and baths are taken. It's no wonder that EC pleads every morning for Daddy to play with her.

I try to get most of the errands, like grocery shopping and running to the Red Store (known to everyone else as Target) for diapers and toilet paper, done during the week with the girls to leave our weekends free to do something fun as a family. Even that doesn't always work out and we sometimes spend a sunny day running around to appliance stores to replace a broken dryer.

What happens when G or I want to do something solo - like going out to eat twice a year with the people that we used to spend every Friday night with? Well, that has to be coordinated. Calendars have to be checked and the frequency of these outings is closely monitored. As a stay at home mom, I need to make sure that I'm getting out enough - lack of adult interaction is a liability in my line of work. And G needs to make sure that he's getting out often enough to avoid burnout, but not too often as to add to my already enormous amount of time spent with toddlers. Its a juggling act.

Throwing months of studying for registration exams for G into the mix has been, pardon my French, but hellish. We eat dinner, he puts the kids to bed while I do the dishes and then he is off to his desk to study for the night. Weekends are less fun as a family and more time for G spent at the office studying. Its like he's working six or seven days a week, but only getting paid for five. Its like adding a big expense into an already too tight budget.

I'm not posting this as an exercise in feeling sorry for myself. I know that all of you out there can sympathize. Where does all the time go? I cannot even imagine what will happen to our lives when I go back to work, but I know that so many people juggle even more than we do. I guess its like budgeting the money. You can't spend what you don't have and you have to adjust your needs accordingly.

When I left work, we didn't really know how we'd survive on just one income. We had some money saved, but it still seemed impossible. And every year, we've reevaluated whether or not I needed to go back to work. How could we trim a little here and there to keep from needing a second income?

I think we do the same thing, maybe a little less consciously, with our time. We figure out what the priority is for our time for the month, the weekend, the day and we try not to let fun slip too low on the time budget. Family dinners, couple time, family outings, one on one time with each girl, and time to be outside in the fresh air are all things that we prioritize. But, we also have to consider the current mental status of each family member. Do I need a break from being a mommy today? Does EC need a little extra attention from Daddy? Does G need a study break? While, it always seems like there isn't enough time to get it all done, but we manage.

When G and I were both bringing in a paycheck, I think we didn't appreciate the splurges the way we do now. A latte at Starbucks is a special treat and its relished more. I know that when I have a free afternoon without kids or husband or anyone else to tell me what to do, that time is so precious to me that I remember to enjoy it. Just like a latte, a free afternoon was too easy to come by in my former life and it wasn't treasured like it is now. So, maybe we don't have enough free time or spending money as we used to, but what we do have is spent more wisely and appreciated more.

21 April 2011

Holiday Traditions

Yesterday, we had a mini egg coloring party when a friend and her daughter came over for a playdate. The girls had a blast and especially loved mixing the colors to see what new colors they could make. My friend and I had a good time too helping them. I remembered at the last minute that we had taken no photos, so I grabbed my friend's camera and snapped a few.

I love traditions and I try to make sure that there are traditions that I practice each year with the girls so that they have some associations with the holidays. I can remember that we always colored eggs with my mom every year. It was something we looked forward to and my mom would boil up a whole bunch of eggs in a very large pot. When you have six kids, you need to make a lot of eggs so everyone has some to color!

I have a hard time not turning these traditions into obligations though. I lamented for the rest of the day that I didn't take any photos with my camera even though I know my friend is always good about sending me photos of the girls together. And I wished that I'd boiled more eggs because the girls hadn't wanted to stop coloring. Why couldn't I just enjoy the sweet memory of hearing EC's triumphant voice yelling, "Purple!" when she dipped her pink egg into the blue dye?

I worry sometimes that I'm missing opportunities - was taking them to the Irish bakery for shamrock cookies enough of a celebration on St. Patrick's Day or should I have spent a week doing shamrock crafts and learning about the land of leprechauns?

Holidays, well the lesser ones anyway, have a way of sneaking up on me. As a stay at home mom, I'm lucky if I remember what day of the week it is. Time travels in a different way when you have a schedule that usually only has one or two regularly scheduled items per week. So, when its suddenly Martin Luther King Day and I've planned nothing, I shouldn't really be surprised, but somehow, I always feel a little inadequate.

I know that they don't need some sort of ritual for every little holiday from Arbor Day to Columbus Day, but how much is enough? For Easter, we color eggs every year and this year we made an Easter tree with Shrinky Dink decorations. The girls will put out there baskets on Easter Eve (is there such a thing?) and the Easter Bunny will fill them up with more toys then candy. And we'll spend the afternoon at a friend's house for an egg hunt. These will all make great memories for us and for the girls. So, I wonder why do I feel guilty for the things that I'm not doing?

Maybe this is all just a reflection on my job in general. I've gotten pretty good at keeping the girls entertained throughout the day. Trips to the park, music class, play gym and the occasional playdate are always happening. We also spend a lot of rainy or cold days visiting the toy department at Target or playing on the kids furniture at IKEA. Hey, both are free and the kids love it! But I can't seem to shake the feeling that they should somehow have something to show for the day. If they haven't produced a misshapen piece of clay or unrecognizable painting, was the day in vain?

In times like this, I fall back on the wisdom in the parenting books that I used to have time to read (when I had only one toddler to chase). They all said that teaching opportunities are everywhere. Counting the steps as you leave the house or pointing out colors in the grocery store are fine learning opportunities. And so, I try to turn the everyday into something worthwhile. Playing out back becomes a science experiment when we roll things down the bulkhead to see which rolls faster or not at all. Walking around the produce section of the grocery store is a good time to name all the vegetables for LR. And I try to focus on the big picture - that my kids are smart, well-developed and happy. They are learning things that I don't even realize I'm teaching. And I try to let some of the guilt go, but I have a feeling that this is a feeling that I'm stuck with. I'm pretty sure that the guilt is going to last even when I see them taking care of their own children and I celebrate these same traditions with the next generation.

18 April 2011

One Fish, Two Fish

I must be trying to qualify for Imperfect Mommy of the Year. I don't know how I did it - what I did wrong, but I killed, not one, but two goldfish in 24 hours. EC and LR each had their own fish - my attempt to divert them from the cat that they really wanted. EC had named her little red and white one Fishy and we'd decided to call LR's spotted one Dorothy after Elmo's fish on Sesame Street. G and I had splurged on a full tank with filter, lights and a castle. And the girls and I had gone back the next week for some plastic plants and a nice rock sculpture to provide a place for the fish to "hide."

EC and LR took turns feeding them and reading them stories. When the girls got new boxes of watercolors, they rushed home and held them up to the tank for Dorothy and Fishy to see. The adoration had waned a little bit from the first weeks, but they were still happy to watch them swimming around the tank and LR was sure to remind me to turn on the light for the fishies every morning.

Yesterday, it was time to change the filter. I read the directions carefully, rinsing the new filter with water and inserting it in place of the old one. I don't know what I could have done wrong - not rinsed it long enough? Who knows, but this morning, Fishy was not moving and Dorothy had not much time left in this world.

I couldn't believe that I had to tell the girls that the fish were dead. I told EC first - it was her fish that was dead, after all. I got down and looked her in the eye and just told her that Fishy had died. And she was sad, but I'm not sure she completely understood. When I told her that we could get another one if she wanted, she said, "Okay, I want one that is all red this time." Sadness over.

Dorothy struggled for another hour - I felt horrible not knowing what to do - wondering if she was suffering. I wasn't sure if I should put him out of his misery or just wait. I moved him to a new bowl, wondering if fresh water might be helpful, but alas, soon Dorothy was gone too. And so I told LR. First I said that Dorothy was gone. And she looked in the tank and said, "Oh, no!" And then so as to avoid confusion, I said, "Honey, Dorothy died." And she cried. For five seconds. And then she walked away.

I'll never know how much the kids understood. I'll never know if I handled it correctly. The girls seemed less affected by all of this than me, but it doesn't change the fact that I killed their poor fish! Talk about an imperfect mommy moment.

And so, we clean out the tank, toss out the gravel, set up the tank to filter another batch of tap water and head to the pet store for new fish. Though to some it may seem heartless to just replace one fish with another, I think some new fish swimming happily in the tank is just what this family needs.

15 April 2011

If Only I Could Give Them Away...

One of the things that makes me an imperfect mommy is that I have days when I wonder why I ever had kids. I know, I'm not supposed to admit this. I'm going to admit something even worse... yesterday, my day with the kids was so bad that given an opportunity, I would have paid someone to take them away.

Of course, this feeling is fleeting and I don't really mean that I would give away my kids. Being a parent is hard work pretty much all of the time, but every so often, a day will be so difficult, I start planning my escape. I wonder how many other parents entertain these ideas. I certainly think that there are more perfect mommies out there who never consider giving there kids away. I also think that these people are probably the same ones with the patience to teach kindergarten or to work the toddler room at a day care. Saints, in other words.

As much as I love being home with my kids (most of the time), the thought of working in a roomful of kids all day long is my worst nightmare. And so on the days, like yesterday, when the constant stream of negatives coming out of my mouth is wearing me down, I wonder if I really have the temperament for this stay at home mom gig. Would they be better off with the saint at the day care center who doesn't get rattled even when the room turns to anarchy and she's overthrown by a roomful of paste-eating toddlers?

After a doozy of a day yesterday, which can only be described as a day of fighting - the girls fought with each other over toys, fought with me over what they wanted to do, and eventually fought with G over bathtime and bedtime - I'm back and ready to make today better. I might not be a saint, but I have a lot more invested than a paycheck or a career. I have a personal responsibility to teach my kids how to share, how to compromise, and how to sleep in a big girl bed. I'm sure at some point today, I'll dream of the perfect nanny coming in to take over for the afternoon so I can go somewhere void of screaming kids sitting atop bookcases refusing to nap and little girls whose sole purpose in life is to ensure that her sister does not have a better toy. I'm also sure that some day, I'll see EC share a toy with her sister without being told to do so and LR will go to sleep in her own bed without tormenting her sister for the entire afternoon. And when that happens - no matter how many years it takes to come about - I'll know that it has been worth it.

14 April 2011

Big Girl Bed

LR has been envying her big sister's bed for some time now. She climbs into it at bedtime and crawls under the covers and whines when we put her in her crib instead. At 20 months, she's about 6 weeks shy of when we transitioned EC to a toddler bed, but she has a big sister to emulate, so we thought it might be time to switch. We have a family vacation coming this summer and we're hoping that if we transition her now, she won't have to squeeze her 35" frame into a pack and play.

I ordered a bed to match EC's toddler bed and was so excited when it arrived. I thought that LR would be overjoyed, so I worked through their nap time to assemble it on my own. I couldn't wait to show her the new bed. When she woke up, I walked her into the living room and she was very happy to see it until she realized that she'd have to give up her crib in trade. She started wailing. This was not going according to plan and I was reminded that my kids are very different and will never act the same in a given situation. EC was thrilled with a big girl bed and more than ready to say goodbye to her crib. Good thing, too because we had a little sister on the way that needed it!

There was difficulty transitioning EC, but considering that she was a toddler who really liked to sleep, it was pretty easy overall. I do remember a horrifying story of her getting her fingers caught in the drawer and screaming for half an hour before I realized that she was hurt and not just putting off going to sleep. Bad mommy!

LR, on the other hand, has decided that this new found freedom is really a license to get into all sorts of trouble. She's emptied the diaper pail, taken all the clothes out of her drawers, climbed the bookshelf, and unplugged the fan. This girl is mischief in a way that her sister never was at this age. LR is also intent on making EC her partner in crime when they are put to bed at the same time. Poor EC just wants to go to sleep!

So, they cry and they wail and they make us question whether or not to set the crib back up. However, I know that we have to face this sooner or later. The freedom will be new and exciting whether we transition her now or a year from now. She'll be just as mischievous when she's two or three - maybe more so. For now, I'm stuck listening to the wailing and refolding all the clothes in the dresser several times a day, knowing that what I'm really listening to is my little girl growing up.

13 April 2011

Stubborn, Meet Strong-Willed

I've been called stubborn on more than one occasion. Maybe I should let the laughter die down before I continue. So, I shouldn't really be surprised to have passed this trait along to my kids. To say that my kids are independent is an understatement. Especially little LR. She gives strong-willed a whole new meaning!

Case in point: She hasn't had a drop of milk since I took her bottle away more than two months ago and she had a 2 gallon a week milk habit. To her, milk comes from a bottle. If you take away the bottle, what's the point of drinking the milk. And so she drinks water and eats yogurt. Like I said, strong-willed is an understatement.

Needless to say, our stubborn little girl has been ruling the house lately. She wakes up hungry and demanding and we're supposed to 'guess' what's she's hungry for. One morning it will be string cheese, another it will be a bowl of cereal or a peanut butter topped waffle. All are healthy choices and I don't mind that she's inclined to any of these things, but what she'll eat changes every day. This morning, she might devour the banana and tomorrow morning, spit it out with a resounding, "Blech!"

And its not just happening at breakfast. What LR will eat changes by the hour and we've been stuck trying to figure out what its okay to put on the menu on any given day. Every meal is a challenge and we find ourselves bargaining and coercing her to eat something - anything! Why do we do this, you ask? The answer is because she sets herself wailing until we find the right food. Yes, she's playing us like the violin section of the orchestra, but try starting every day with a wailing toddler and see how quickly you cave.

This morning, I decided that I'd had enough. When she selected a string cheese from the refrigerator drawer, I was a little surprised as it was taken off the menu last week. Blech. But, after asking her again before I opened it, she assured me that she wanted to eat the string cheese. Of course, she changed her mind when it was unwrapped. Blech. And she started wailing. Just as G was bringing over boxes of cereal for her second selection, I put my foot down firmly.

Wailing just wasn't going to persuade me this morning. I knew that this was not the only meal of the day that would be a battle if I gave in. I also knew that there was no way she would actually starve herself and I've seen her inhale a string cheese in seconds, so its pretty likely that she actually LIKES it and is just demonstrating her power.

"No more choices," I said firmly. In other words, if you want to eat breakfast, LR, its going to be string cheese. She immediately wailed to G. She can sense that he's the nicer of the two of us. Even being relegated to the role of mean mommy wasn't going to make me budge this morning. I'm tired of the struggle at every meal. Its no longer about food. Its about control and I decided to take it back.

The wailing went on throughout breakfast with pleas of "Eat, eat!" She signed the word too, just in case we weren't understanding. It was as if she was saying, "You are starving your poor little girl, here! Someone please feed me!" Oh, it was hard, but I just kept reminding myself that it was also worth it.

Again and again, we directed her to the cheese. You have something to eat and you won't get anything else until you eat what you picked out. Finally, I asked her if she wanted me to cut it up for her. I think it was a way for her to save face, because she said yes even though she hasn't wanted it to be cut for her in months. So, I cut it up and one by one, she ate every piece. And then polished off a banana.

I feel like I may have won this round, but she might just be gearing up for a bigger fight tomorrow. Still, I know that its my job to be mean mommy sometimes and that in the end, she'll be happier if we stay in control, no matter how much she fights us on it.

09 April 2011

A Moment of Perfection

Obviously, by the title of my blog, you can tell that I have far more imperfect moments as a parent than perfect ones. I don't strive for perfection, but try very hard to be a 'good enough' mommy. I think trying to be a perfect mommy is futile and bound to land your kids in therapy even faster than being imperfect.

I will admit though, that when someone compliments my parenting, it warms my heart. Its like getting a really great review at work. It just feels good to have your hard work noticed. Good reviews at work usually come around about once a year and, I think, in the world of parenting, they are even rarer. My job review will come when its time for my kids to make it on their own in the world and either realize that their parents have equipped them for success or failure.

The other day, I was out to eat with the girls. It was my "treat" day on my diet and I was splurging my weekly points on a burrito. The girls were happy to accompany me as the "Macamole Store" is one of their favorites - that's toddler speak for Chipotle where they eat guacamole and chips and beans and rice. It had been a difficult morning and EC had been particularly precocious, refusing to get dressed, refusing to brush her teeth, refusing to sit on the potty and then wailing when I tried to comb her hair. My patience had been tried again and again and I wasn't really looking forward to taking this show on the road, but I'd eaten all the fruit in the house and needed to buy more.

So, we headed out, first to the grocery store where they were pretty well behaved, then to the toy store where they climbed the store displays while I tried to order a birthday present for an upcoming party and, finally, to the restaurant. By the time we hit the restaurant, we were doing pretty well and the girls were back to their charming, well-behaved selves. As we sat eating lunch and talking, I was trying to get EC to eat some of her beans. I told her that she would make it into the Good Eaters Club if she tried them because they would make her very strong. And she did try them. Then, I staved off a sister fight over the guacamole by convincing them to take turns dipping. Our lunch was turning out to be a rather pleasant one and then it came - a compliment from a complete stranger.

Usually, these take the form of "your kids are so well behaved," but today, the compliment was for me. The woman at the next table stopped on her way out to say that she appreciated the way that I spoke to my children. I was a little taken aback, but she continued, that she often just barks at her kids to, "Eat!" and that she was inspired to try to talk to them better after listening to me with my children. Inspired? I felt the tears spring to my eyes after I thought about the difficult morning that I'd had with the girls and how, instead of losing my cool, I'd endured until we all got into a better mood. And somehow, we'd all turned a difficult day into a nice memory.

I did assure the woman, that she'd caught me in a good moment and that I barked too, but I couldn't help but be a little proud that I got such a nice compliment. And I also got a reminder that it is such a kindness to stop and talk to a stranger who gives us pause. That woman gave me a little gift in giving me a compliment. She had no idea how difficult my morning had been or how nice her compliment would be for me to hear, but she gave it anyway. She has inspired me to stop the next time I overhear a mom talking to her kids and think, "I could use that line!" Inspired me to let that mom know that I appreciate the way she's raising her kids, because I know just how inspiring such a compliment can be.

08 April 2011

Let's Try Again!

I was listening to EC and LR play and heard EC said, "Let's try again!" I have to admit that this simple statement made me a little emotional. Toddlers are easily frustrated by stuff that they cannot do. Its the basis for a lot of tantrums - whether they can't do it because mommy says no or because their little hands and coordination level prohibit it doesn't matter. They just get frustrated and quickly. I've struggled with this because I pretty much have the patience of a toddler. And I've got the frustration level and the tantrums to prove it. How can I ever teach my kids to be patient when I've never been able to master it in my thirty plus years?

EC can dress herself all on her own, but she frequently claims she "can't" so that I'll pitch in and do it for her. She's especially inclined to use the word 'can't' when putting on shoes and socks. They frustrate her. I get it - the heel ends up on the front of her foot or they are too long and difficult to pull all the way up. Socks are not the easiest article of clothing to put on. She frequently brings me the socks and tells me that she can't put them on, usually, without even trying. So, I tell her that if she gives it three best tries and still can't get them on, I will help her. Getting her to try once isn't too difficult, but the concept of trying again and again until she gets it right is not one that she really wants to grasp.

I get this too - I don't like to keep trying at something that I might still end up failing at. Its quite a difficult skill to master to keep putting yourself out there knowing that if you fail in the end its all on you and not just because you didn't try. To me, this is such an important lesson for her to learn, though. The reward for doing something that you didn't think you could do is far greater than the risk involved. And putting yourself out there is pretty much what living life is all about.

When EC gives her socks three best tries, she doesn't come back to me even more frustrated with her socks in her hands. She gets them on every time and comes over to show me how proud she is that she finished it all on her own without my help. And I ask her every time, "Doesn't it feel good to do something that you didn't think you could do?"

And so, when I overhear EC telling her sister that they should try it again, it makes me smile. She's getting it. Of course, she still comes to me frustrated and she still has to be told to try to put her socks on by herself, but somewhere, she's starting to realize the payoff for trying again. And even better, she's teaching it to her little sister. Maybe, if I listen and watch carefully, she'll be able to teach it to me, too.

06 April 2011

Eating My Words

I've been having trouble finding time to post the past few days and I thought I'd let you in on why. Truth is, I've been counting points. Weight watchers points. Its true. I've become one of THOSE ladies. I swore it would never be me. I have always been the first person to insist that dieting only makes me gain weight and that I could never do it. And I swore even more strongly that I would never be the person standing at the food table at a party mentally calculating the number of points in a tablespoon of dip and a handful of chips. Oh, how we eat our words sometimes. Pardon the pun.

As mommies, no matter how perfect our metabolism or our workout routines, we all have to go on a diet at some point. Whether that just means avoiding mercury-ridden fish and unheated lunch meat when we're pregnant or counting calories to get our pre-baby bodies back, its a fact that mommyhood comes with a price. I've decided its time to pay up.

I love those little girls of mine and would gladly do it all over again, but pregnancy has not been kind to my body. Neither has full day access to a kitchen stocked with kiddie snacks. But I shall not blame the tots. I am truly imperfect in this area. I would much rather bake (and eat) Christmas cookies than go out for a jog. I really thought that trading running around chasing toddlers for sitting at a desk all day would be exercise enough and that the pounds would just melt away. Boy was I wrong!

There - I've admitted my imperfection in black and white for all the world (or at least the six people reading this blog) to see - I am on a diet. So, if you pass me at the food table at a party, reading labels in the supermarket, or in line at Chipotle, please excuse the faraway look in my eye. I'm just trying to figure out how many of my daily points I'm using up and how many minutes I'd have to run to undo eating those chips and dip. You may shake your head at me and think, "Not another one!" What I've realized though is that mommies deserve to take care of themselves too.

I'm really hoping that this imperfect mommy can stick with a diet this time - even if it involves counting points and eating all the fruit in the house instead of a bag of potato chips. Because when it comes to healthy body image, I know that raising girls is tough. And what they see outside the four walls of this house will bombard them with lots of bad ideas about what healthy looks like. I'm hoping to be an image that sticks with them. Not of a skinny mommy, but of a healthy one. I want them to see me exercising and eating fruit and feeling good about the way I look. Because that will speak volumes more than any talk I could have with them.

04 April 2011

Eating What You Preach

Every morning, EC asks for a second bowl of cereal at breakfast time. And every morning we tell her that she has to have a serving of fruit first. She whines and then eats the fruit and sometimes the second bowl of cereal. And every morning I wonder why she whines about the fruit. She likes fruit.

It occurred to me this morning that I might be part of the problem. The girls have "rules" about eating fruits and vegetables before they can have seconds of other foods. They love eating fruit and even some vegetables, so we try to remind them to have some broccoli before filling their bellies with macaroni and cheese. However, I'm not usually following the same rules. I like vegetables, so there is no problem getting me to eat them with dinner, but I rarely eat fruit and don't make sure that I'm having a fruit or veggie with every meal like I do with them.

When sitting down for a snack, I'm not very likely to grab an apple, but I'm always trying to get them to eat one. I've noticed that if I peel an orange, LR toddles right over to have some, but if I just ask her if she wants one, the answer is no. Could my lack of fruit on my plate be affecting them?

Part of this dilemma is financial. I love strawberries and blueberries and blackberries, and I readily buy them for the kids in all but the most expensive months. My produce bill is pretty high without adding enough to fill my plate with.

This imperfect mommy has made a resolution to show the girls that I'm practicing what I'm preaching. I'm adding more fruits and more veggies to my meals and my snacks. And if strawberries aren't in the budget, I'll settle for the less exciting (and less expensive) apples and oranges and bananas. Maybe if I bite into an apple, the girls will be more likely to want one, too. And I'm going to make sure that my lunch has a little more green to it. Because, let's face it - this mommy could stand a few more fruits and vegetables and a few less carbs in her diet!

02 April 2011

Good Eater's Club

Occasionally, this imperfect mommy has a moment of mommy perfection. A moment where I pat myself on the back and think that I might just be good at my job. Granted, that moment is usually fleeting, but I'll take it!

My two darling daughters have turned into quite the picky eaters. Its not that they eat unhealthy things or turn their noses up at any food that isn't white, they have just decided that it will be a fun game to make mommy guess what they like to eat at any given moment. This has proven to be quite a challenge for mommy as what they like to eat changes constantly.

I made homemade pizza for dinner the other night and LR informed me it was, "Blech!" She wouldn't even taste it. She just kept making a spitting noise anytime I offered it to her. For months, pizza has been her favorite food and she usually enjoys more than one slice of my homemade kind. Not today! One day she can't get enough string cheese and the next she refuses to eat even one bite. At lunch today, she might down three plates of macaroni and cheese and next week, she'll refuse it entirely.

EC isn't much better - she's simply decided that she'll fill herself up with milk and then complain that her belly hurts. When we refuse to let her drink milk until she eats something, she sits there whining that she wants something else. Again, it can be her favorite and she will refuse it simply to be disagreeable.

Our dinnertime has turned into a constant battle to get the kids to put food into their mouths. I've tried to let them pick what foods go on their plates, encouraged them to help make dinner or set the table, even offered them a choice between the main entree or fruit and yogurt. Some nights, nothing works. Until last night, I had an epiphany in the middle of dinner.

Instead of convincing EC that she had to eat her spaghetti, I simply told her that if she did, she could be in the Good Eater's Club. LR was already polishing off her dinner, so I inducted her and waited to see what EC's response would be. What do you know? She started eating. So, I added a little more incentive. Anyone inducted into the Good Eater's Club would get an extra story read to them at bedtime! That meant that instead of our usual two books - one for each girl - we could end up with four whole books! The food was practically flying into her mouth at this point.

And before we knew it - EC was holding up a nearly clean plate! Now, I know not to praise the clean plate too highly - I don't want them overeating for the sake of more reading at bedtime, but sometimes they just need a little push to actually put a bite or two in their mouth - a chance to remember that they do in fact like spaghetti or broccoli or string cheese. They really are pretty healthy eaters, if they would just remember that they actually like the food from one day to the next!