Thursday, May 28, 2015


Well, I guess I'm winning the Eating Lottery this week. Aside from the taquitos incident, this week has been EASY!

Tonight - potluck/picnic at August's pre-school. His LAST EVENT at Pre-SCHOOL - FOR.EVER. AND EVER. *sigh*

I digress.

So the kids had:

August: some plain crackers, a handful of cheetos, apple juice and a cookie (not homemade - one with all sorts of crap in it).

Dahlia: some meat balls in marinara (about this I was COMPLETELY SHOCKED!), fruit salad (various melon & one grape), cheetos, crackers, the same "fake" cookie that August had and a brownie with apple juice.


At least EVERY OTHER SINGLE KID THERE was eating the same thing.


Okay - tomorrow on the menu plan - MICKEY MOUSE WAFFLES and bacon. Yup. It was Dahlia's turn to pick a meal. So be it.

We will load up on vitamins & cantaloupe, won't we......

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Ugh - been failing at the whole feeding my family well thing since the first post.

Last night I had a birthday dinner with some girlfriends that I went to. I made the kids some Star Wars Mac & Cheese (I always add a little greek yogurt these days for extra creaminess) and green beans. I'm not sure what Steve ate. I had a delicious bacon-cheeseburger with fries. I don't often eat red meat so when I actually want it, I indulge. It was good.

Tonight I worked late; I had a soup on the meal plan and it was 80+ degrees all day so in no way did I want to consume, nor make soup. I suggested spinach strawberry salads - that got no one excited, except for me. Steve ended up eating up frozen leftover Chinese (yes, he reported that it tasted as good as that sounds....blech) and the kids had leftover dinner from last night. I never did get around to making that salad....I ate what was left on August's plate after he magically disappeared from the dinner table, and reappeared on the trampoline. Hmmmm....oh and this was AFTER 7pm. Clearly parenting wins all around here tonight!

(also - THEY'RE STILL AWAKE. It's 9:32 and granted it JUST got dark here but oh my gosh. Sleep already!!!)

Now it's time for me to make broccoli slaw salad & zucchini brownies for a potluck tomorrow night. That sounds good, doesn't it?


I did have one food BIG TIME success this week. on Sunday I prepared 6 yogurt parfaits - essentially this plain greek yogurt (or vanilla) (actually 3 of mine had "honey" yogurt in them); topped with rolled oats; topped with cinnamon; topped with ground flax; topped with sliced almonds; topped with frozen blueberries; topped with canned pineapple. Let them sit overnight and OH MY GOSH - super yummy. Stir it all together in the AM & walk out the door with your new grab-and-go super healthy breakfast! :) I will be making these again! (also I am particularly proud that I made enough for Steve & I to grab-and-go a few times this week AND that I am using recycled peanut butter jars for this endeavor!

Monday, May 25, 2015

French Kids Eat Everything

Last autumn a friend of mine posted on Facebook that he was looking for people, parents in particular, who were willing to read Karen Le Billon's books about getting your kids to eat & have a healthy attitude about doing so. Not just to "eat" but to eat things that are GOOD for you; that have layers of tastes & textures. Having a well-rounded palette and not being expected to be catered to.

Hi, my name is Carrie and I have two small children. ONE who is particularly challenging when it comes to eating anything other than "Creamy Macaroni" or frozen nuggets & fries. *sigh* The other one isn't far from that mark either but at least gives an effort and occasionally finds something new that he loves.

YES! I want to take this challenge. I want to read these books, implement ideas, try new things, blog about it - perhaps correspond with the author? Sure! Sign me up.

And then...the holidays.

And then....randomly, suddenly and unexpectedly we bought a new house.

And then....we had to move and pack and then unpack and GAH!!!!!!

And now...

Now is the time.

I've read a few articles about getting kids to eat lately - what to DO what not to DO blah blah blah. The internet is basically a place where you can find supporting evidence for whatever side you are on of any specific topic.  Crowdsourcing via social media helps sometimes (the online version of a parental support group at times) but I was/am interested in trying some things that WORK by someone who has written, studied and thought a lot about it. Oh and applied it too. That matters.

I will not deny that I am a "picky" eater. I have issues with texture; my stomach (& tastebuds) don't really care for hot & spicy things; I have never been a huge fan of sauces or dressings. As I have become a parent over the past 7 1/2 years, I realize though that I want to be more adventurous with foods. I want to teach my children to eat a healthy variety of foods. And while I'd love to say - sure that bowl of Doritos being washed down by a Diet Coke (my total addiction - something to work on) is FINE! I know that it is not. I know that food is the answer to so many of the problems in our current society. Food is medicine. Food is life. Food is fun. Food is entertainment. Food is....I could go on and on.  I did not eat (& like) a tomato until I was IN MY THIRTIES for crying out loud. I know now that my parents weren't trying to torture me by making me try different foods, but rather they likely wanted me to enjoy them as much as they did! (although the liver thing? I can never get past that...).  When our daughter Dahlia was born, I promised my husband that I would not influence her in a negative way about foods. Even if it is green peppers which is clearly the work of satan. Dahlia adores green peppers (much to my chagrin) and I am pretty darn proud of that. I have even eating a few green peppers over the years. Shocking.

Tonight....ugh....tonight. I have been trying to pepper our weekly meal plans with a variety of foods - different cultures; meat vs. no meat; new recipes or old ones; crock pot, baked or get the idea. I want there to be "fall-back on" favorites but I want there to be new stuff too. Plus I work at the library and the lure of cookbooks cannot be denied.

So, I made Beef and Bean Taquitos tonight! They are from Beth Moncel's "Budget Bytes" - she is also the author of the blog by the same name.  I have been reading her cookbook all weekend and enjoying the idea of eating whole foods while stretching your food budget. In fact there are several recipes from her book on this week's meal plan.

These taquitos are pretty basic - beef, black beans, a few spices. Corn tortillas, rolled up. Boom.  I thought it would be a good "different" sort of fun version of a taco for my kids.


First, let me say that I think my kids were drunk on high-fructose-corn-syrup from being at their Grandparents for an overnight last night. Holy crap. Talk about belligerent, small-obnoxious people. Wow. I don't mind the giggling, but the spitting of food, tooting and mouth bubbles get to be a bit much. At the first sign of this behavior I should've just declared it a popcorn and grapes night, popped in a movie and poured myself a glass of wine. BUT NO - I had to cook a new recipe.

For my money, the recipe was lacking. I would've added some crushed tomatoes in with the meat and some cumin into the spices. Or at least some cheese.  Well, whatever. My first time making taquitos. I was proud of myself and I thought they were good (served with fresh lettuce, tomato, cheese & greek yogurt (in place of sour cream)).  But August only nibbled the crispy edges and he and Dahlia both ate copious amounts of watermelon.

When dinner was over (ie: when Steve and I finished) Dahlia asked if she could have a healthy dessert. I informed her that she just ate half a watermelon and was still jacked up on HFCS so she was probably good. Tantrum #1. Of course I AM NOT FAIR AND THIS IS THE WORST NIGHT OF HER LIFE. "Can't I even have yogurt??" No, you licked the bowl clean and didn't even use it on your taquito...I think you're good.

She stormed off, laid down on the carpet and carried on with a tantrum of epic proportions. I knew she was tired. I knew her system was off after a weekend of Grandparents (3 sets!) and friends. I let her fume. I let Steve go after her. I let her fume some more. I let her beg me for yogurt. I refused.

I felt sort of terrible, but at the same time....COME ON - eat the food given to you. I will not become a short-order cook. I will not always provide you with a peanut butter & jelly sandwich. I will not bow down to YOU.

Damn, it was hard.

We were reading and she kept freaking out about being "....SO HUNGRY I'M GOING TO DIE. I AM NOT GOING TO MAKE IT UNTIL MORNING.....WAAAAAAAAAAAAAH." Huge dramatics. I tried to explain to her that this is it. From now on, you eat (or at least try!) what's given to you. I'm not going to give in to her demands any more. Try try the very least. I promise to always have something on the table that you love. Something healthy and plentiful.....but you must try!

I think she was stunned. I think Steve was stunned too...."but what if she is really hungry...?" I said, I'm sure she is but she has to learn to eat what is presented, not what she wants all the time. She's seven for crying out loud!

Eventually I calmed her enough (lots of cuddling and soothing speech going on) and told her that if she was truly starving in 30 minutes she could come into the kitchen and I would give her something to eat. I knew that she would be asleep in about 30 seconds but she readily agreed.

That was 2 1/2 hours ago.

I did it. I stayed strong.

I don't want to be a jerk about this food thing because I KNOW how horrible it is to be forced into eating something that you truly don't like. I get that some people don't like certain things (ie: me + cilantro - NASTY....or me + the texture of raw onions = vomitous!) and I will not push this to cruelty - but we need to start being ore open minded. (myself included)

Now, I need to read this book. This is important for my sanity and for our family.

More culinary adventures tomorrow...oh no, wait. I have dinner plans. Heh. Popcorn and grapes for the kiddos then?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

SHAPES Storytime

Wow - I guess I'm not keeping up with my storytime blogs. I will try to do better. I'm considering relocating these posts so I can share them with my Storytime crowd.

We started by talking about SHAPES just a little bit as a precursor of the Storytime to come. I wanted to let the adults know that SHAPE recognition is very important as an early literacy skill and it is the beginnings of reading. We talked more about it throughout today's Storytime.

The More We Get Together - song with signs

Shapes that Roll by Karen Nagel/Illustrations by Steve Wilson
This book was a lot of fun. We had a great time moving (a little) like the shapes or making them with our hands, talking about all the different shapes on the pages, and guessing some of the more unusual shapes. The bright colors & slight textures of this book make it a really eye-catching fun book to read.

Next we read The Shape of Things by Dayle Ann Dodds/Illustrated by Julie Lacome. This took basic shapes & turned them into other things. I could see the little wheels turning in their mind as each page revealed something new made by turning or adding different shapes.

After that book we sang the "Circle Song" - to the tune of Have you Ever Seen a Lassie

Have you ever seen a circle, a circle, a circle?
Have you ever seen a circle, which goes round & round?
It rolls this way and that way, and that way and this way.
Have you ever seen a circle that goes round & round?

We made arm circles during the first two lines, then rolled our hands to one side & the other for the 3rd line and back to arm circles for the last line. This was a big hit (& so simple!). We sang through it a couple times since it was so short.

For the first  literary aside we talked letter knowledge. We also about the importance of being able to differentiate things (such as shapes - why is a square different from a rectangle different from a circle, etc). Distinguishing "alike" and "different" is a skill that needs to be learned. This helps when young readers begin learning the alphabet and are able to tell a small 'h' apart from a small 'n.'

Next up was Perfect Square by Michael Hall. I'm just dying to do this book as a craft project, but maybe someday I'll have more room! (I also want to do shape snowmen, shape houses, etc etc etc....) We had some distractions during this one of little ones not staying on the rug but the kids who were listening were really into it. They liked figuring out what the window was becoming and sort of were in awe of all the different things.

The 2nd literary aside I talked about going on a shape scavenger hunt with their kiddos. Whether it's a walk outside (stop sign, mailbox, sidewalk squares, etc) or in the house (cereal box, windows, books, bowls, picture frames) etc. Trace the shapes in the air with your finger. Shapes are everywhere!

We did some YOGA today! It was so fun. and I'm wearing yoga pants - BONUS! We made different shapes with our bodies....we did the SQUARE (rag doll pose), the CRESCENT (crescent pose), TRIANGLE (downward facing dog), CIRCLE (flower pose) {imagine yourself seated in a bubble - sphere}. RECTANGLE (plank pose) and the STAR (star pose). This was super fun. Most of the kids really got into this. I enjoyed doing it too. I'd like to incorporate more ways to use our bodies! (credit to Miss Meg - great website!)

We read Windblown by Edouard Manceau. I did a flannel board along with this. SUPER easy - just a few shapes. I would then arrange them on the flannel board before showing the picture in the book to see if they could guess what "animal" I had made. You have to use your imagination a little bit on this one! (this would make a fun craft project too!)

And lastly we read I am Blop! by Herve Tullet. What a FUN book. It's silly & abstract but the kids loved it. I photocopied some pages of the "blank Blops" and let the kids fill them in afterward with patterns, colors, etc. They really enjoyed that.

The last literary aside was about the first letter in your child's name. We talked about that a bit last week (how that letter is THE MOST important letter in the alphabet). I just asked that they expand on that and continue pointing it out in signs, labels, books, etc. And to talk about what types of shapes make up that letter (for example - a capital A sure looks like a triangle!)

We closed with If you're Happy and you Know it! which is always popular.

Overall it was a really great storytime. The kids were into it (even with some distractions) the parents participated and it was fun! The Yoga was my favorite part. We had 46 in attendance.

The Books 
Windblown - by Edouard Manceau (with flannel board)
Shapes That Roll - by Karen Nagel/Illustrations by Steve Wilson
Perfect Square - by Michael Hall
I am Blop! - by Herve Tullet
The Shape of Things - by Dayle Ann Dodds/Illustrated  by Julie Lacome

Additional books we didn't get to:
Same, Same by Marthe Jocelyn, Tom Slaughter
Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature -by Joyce Sidman/Pictures by Beth Krommes (I love her illustrations!
It looked like Spilt Milk - by Charles Shaw

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving Storytime

Well, another week has passed and I've only posted about Storytime. Ah well. So it goes.

This week's storytime's theme was THANKSGIVING. Of course. There are not a lot of books (that we own) about Thanksgiving that aren't SUPER wordy. So picking & choosing things didn't go as easily as I had hoped. I also wanted to do more books about autumn, harvest, etc but with early snow & extremely cold temperatures here this year, that didn't feel right.

In the end I found a few things that worked, and we had a great time!

In November by Cynthia Rylant
A great book which is perfect for this chilly, snowy November! Beautiful illustrations, talks about animals, people, the November. :)

Next we did a Turkey Felt Board (idea courtesy of Kathryn Roach)

I cut out a turkey shape (free hand) along with feathers. LOTS of feathers. Since we have a lot of kids at Storytime, I wanted to make sure everyone had a feather in their hands. I used all the different colors that I had on hand. It turned out pretty cute. I wish I would've taken a picture after the kids had put up all their feathers!

The song is to the tune of Are You Sleeping?
Our Poor Turkey
Lost his feathers.
Let's all help, everyone.
Do you have a * (red) one?
Come on bring the * (red) one.
Oh what fun!
Oh what fun!

*change the color each time.

The kids had a great time waiting to put their feathers on the flannel board. It was pretty darn exciting! Thank you Kathryn for this great flannel activity!

Next we read Look Who's in the Thanksgiving Play! which is a really cute lift-the-flap book and seemed to get the kids settled back down after the excitement of the Turkey flannel!

Fall Mixed Up was next. Even though we're a month or two behind on this one, the kids enjoyed it an LOVED seeing all the crazy things that are happening in this book. They thought a lot of it was incredibly silly. And it is!

Next up we did the "Turkey Pokey" - yep, essentially the Hokey Pokey (but not in a circle because we don't have enough room) but using turkey body parts - wings, claws, wattles, beak. The kids really enjoyed this & I heard quite a few adults singing along too!

We finished up with Tomie dePaola's My First Thanksgiving. A more simple board book which talks about the first Thanksgiving and what we do to celebrate Thanksgiving today. It's always nice to end on a short book!

Overall it went pretty well. The kids seemed to be interested in the books & were eager & excited to tell me what special plans they had for Thanksgiving Day.

We had 66 at Storytime today - whew!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Colors Storytime

I do Storytime every Tuesday at 10:15 at the Mount Royal branch library of the Duluth Public Library system. I enjoy it. I really do. I enjoy reading to the kids (my weekly "performance"), I love putting together themes, activities & songs to go along; I really enjoy creating flannel boards & fun activities to go along with it. 

I've decided I'm going to start blogging about my Storytimes as it's a great resource for me down the road. I sometimes forget what worked & how well; what failed; what wasn't worth it and what TOTALLY was. I also lose track of what books/songs/fingerplays I do with what books/themes. 

So here ya go. Today's Storytime:

Today our theme was COLORS. A fun Storytime theme and one I've used in the past & will use again in the future.

Opening song - The More We Get Together

Early Literacy Aside #1 - We talked about VOCABULARY as today's enhanced storytime element. Vocabulary is my favorite. I love talking about this because it's SO GREAT to learn new words & increase kids language awareness. Plus it's easy. You can read any book & find words that little ones don't know the meanings of. And non-fiction books are SUPER great to use.

Color, Color, Where Are You Color?  by Mary Koski
A great book to play "I-Spy" with and talk to the kids about all the objects, plants, animals, etc featured in this book. Excellent for exploring vocabulary!

Dog's Colorful Day - by Emma Dodd
I made a quick & simple flannel board to go along with this book yesterday. A little tracing, a little cutting and wham! A super cute flannel that the kids LOVED.

The Great Big Green - by Peggy Gifford
Another great book exploring the color green and making it very easy to talk about vocabulary - plants, animals, people, art (ooh! collage!)  I did my 2nd Early Literacy Aside right before this: As we read this book, I will stop to point out different animals and to point out words in the book. Factual books are a great way to introduce new words to your children! Reading & talking about new words increase your child's vocabulary. Studies show that the larger a child's vocabulary is when they enter school, the easier it is for them to read. READ READ READ!

Bear Sees Colors - by Karma Wilson & Jane Chapman
An adorable new "Bear" book. Love these. The kids were great at picking up the idea of the next color by use of the rhyming text! Two birds with one stone! I love rhyming books. And it's great to have the kids shout/guess the next color!

I Dream of an Elephant - by Ami Rubinger
Basically the same concept as Bear Sees Colors, but the pictures are so cute & the kids love guessing the colors with the elephants. Orange is my favorite! Kind of a bonus book (didn't really need to do it as we were pushing 30 minutes, but I couldn't resist).

Early Literacy Aside #3 - Keep in mind that reading books is not the ONLY way to increase your child's vocabulary. You might talk about the ambulance, fire station, ice cream truck, etc etc on a walk to the park. Talk about the different types of birds, talk about the buildings & the signs. Talk at the doctor's office, in the home and when you're out running errands. There is a neverending supply of experiences to enhance your child's vocabulary...and it will pay off in the long run!

We ended the Storytime with a rousing edition of "If You're Happy & You Know It!"

58 people in attendance. I thought it was more (we often have 75-85 people!) because they were quite squirelly today. I usually have a "core" group that sits right up front and gets into it...but with that many people it's hard to keep everyone focused (usually the adults!). Somedays are better than others!

NaBloPoMo '14 FAIL

Yep - I failed. I made it 10 days. Oh well. I kind of feel like I'm blogging in a vacuum or void or something so I know that the only real person I've disappointed is myself. Ah well. I"m going to try to continue blogging more. I really enjoy it as a journal of my own life, if not for connecting with others.

So, onward.

Monday, November 10, 2014

10. 10 November

Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
by Gordon Lightfoot 
The Edmund Fitzgerald
The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down 
of the big lake they called "Gitche Gumee."
The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
when the skies of November turn gloomy.
With a load of iron ore twenty-six thousand tons more
than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty,
that good ship and true was a bone to be chewed
when the "Gales of November" came early. 

The ship was the pride of the American side
coming back from some mill in Wisconsin.
As the big freighters go, it was bigger than most
with a crew and good captain well seasoned,
concluding some terms with a couple of steel firms
when they left fully loaded for Cleveland.
And later that night when the ship's bell rang,
could it be the north wind they'd been feelin'?

The wind in the wires made a tattle-tale sound
and a wave broke over the railing.
And ev'ry man knew, as the captain did too
'twas the witch of November come stealin'.
The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait
when the Gales of November came slashin'.
When afternoon came it was freezin' rain
in the face of a hurricane west wind.

When suppertime came the old cook came on deck sayin'.

"Fellas, it's too rough t'feed ya."
At seven P.M. a main hatchway caved in; he said,
(**2010 lyric change: At 7 p.m., it grew dark, it was then he said,)
"Fellas, it's bin good t'know ya!"
The captain wired in he had water comin' in
and the good ship and crew was in peril.
And later that night when 'is lights went outta sight
came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Does any one know where the love of God goes
when the waves turn the minutes to hours?
The searchers all say they'd have made Whitefish Bay
if they'd put fifteen more miles behind 'er.
They might have split up or they might have capsized;
they may have broke deep and took water.
And all that remains is the faces and the names
of the wives and the sons and the daughters.

Lake Huron rolls, Superior sings
in the rooms of her ice-water mansion.
Old Michigan steams like a young man's dreams;
the islands and bays are for sportsmen.
And farther below Lake Ontario
takes in what Lake Erie can send her,
And the iron boats go as the mariners all know
with the Gales of November remembered.

In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed,
in the "Maritime Sailors' Cathedral."
The church bell chimed 'til it rang twenty-nine times
for each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald.
The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
of the big lake they call "Gitche Gumee."
"Superior," they said, "never gives up her dead
when the gales of November come early!"