No Picky Eaters

You hear it all the time. No matter where you are, who you know. If you know even just one kid, you’ve heard the horrors of having a picky eater.

People are always a little surprised to discover that none of my kids are picky eaters. Some of their favorite foods include fish, shrimp, asparagus, and salad (okay, Miss H loves salad, the boys are still working on learning to love it).

Now don’t get me wrong, they don’t necessarily love every single thing they are offered. They for sure have their preferences. And Mr. B will take something full of sugar over broccoli any day. But getting them to eat healthy and nutritious food is never a challenge. I don’t have to sneak vegetables into cheese sauces, and they have no idea that macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets are considered the norm for “kid” foods. Actually, the older two don’t really like macaroni and cheese at all. But we all love a good chicken nugget now and then.

The truth is, I don’t think we did anything special. We just kept offering, and offering, and often. I kept them involved in the kitchen, and then kept offering a little more.

Until about the age of 2 1/2, Mr. B thought that he only liked bananas, granola bars, and cheddar bunny crackers. But he wasn’t offered those foods at every meal, and he didn’t get to eat them to his hearts desire. The granola bars and cheddar bunnies were a snack food only, and only offered at snack times. I put itsy-bitsy portions of food on his plate each day, knowing he likely wouldn’t eat much of it, and I could always add more if needed. This helped me to not be frustrated with wasted food or for him to feel overwhelmed by the quantity.

He is by far my most particular child, and still, there is not very much he will not eat.

We didn’t discuss with him whether he ate it or not. We didn’t make a big deal of him not eating it. We didn’t make a big deal of him trying it. We just put it on the plate, and let him be.

It took time, for sure, but eventually he got it. Food is tasty.

When he weaned right at age three, he became a more adventurous eater. Suddenly things he’d always claimed he didn’t like, such as tomatoes, became his favorite foods. And, of course, we kept offering.

We’ve never made our kids separate meals. There is no such thing as grown-up food and kid food in our house.

You don’t have to like everything you eat, but you also can’t say it’s gross or disgusting. You can smile, thank whomever prepared the meal, and not eat whatever you’ve decided you don’t currently care for. Though honestly, very rarely do they decide they don’t like it.

He is enjoying stuffed zucchini and a salad. Yep, at 20 months he ate it!

They are offered three square meals a day. Unless Miss H makes breakfast. Then it’s typically just pancakes, which isn’t a very square meal, ha ha, but trust me, they certainly don’t complain nor do I, because it’s nice to have a break. Plus they have free reign access to fresh cut veggies, nuts, and fruits. They can eat as much or as little as they please. I will never tell a child that they’re hungry and are required to eat more. Nor will I insist that there’s no way they could possibly still be shoveling food in their tummy. I have full confidence that they know how hungry or not they are, at all times. And I want them to learn from an early age how to satiate themselves without under or over eating. I want food to be something that nourishes them and makes them strong. I even want them to enjoy the things they eat. But I don’t want them to eat mindlessly, or avoid foods when they’re hungry.

In general, after toddlerhood, we insist they eat at the table (we certainly aren’t militant and make exceptions such as movie night or if they’re in the middle of a board game and want to munch an apple, etc.). When you have to stop what you’re doing and put thought into what you’re doing in terms of eating, you often tend to be mindful and intentional. At least I know I am.


I suppose Bean could be the one to break this method. She could be the one who this no-frills normalcy of healthy food just doesn’t work with. But withstanding any legitimate food issues, I’m assuming probably not. Since it’s the only thing she will know.

We want our kids to have a love of food, the way we do. We want them to enjoy healthy and nutritious food in its organic state. We want them to enjoy exotic foods, fine foods, foods from street vendors, and chocolate chip cookies. Because at the end of the day, we don’t want them to be picky eaters.

Matching

I love matching my kids.

I will probably match them until they leave the house if I get a say.

I always hoped I’d have two of the same gender close together to make matching easier, but let’s be honest, I wouldn’t change any one of these nuggets.

And it turns out it’s not so hard matching them as I envisioned it to be. Sure, there could be more options. And I super love rompers on the babies and those might not really work for the big kids, but we are making out options work.

I wonder how old Miss H will be when she no longer finds it amusing to match her baby sister?

And most days Mr. B and Sweet M are butting heads; I imagine my days are numbered there. Although B gets very excited about matching his baby brother still.

M is getting very particular about his clothing though. Mostly, he just likes his birthday suit if we are being honest. Eep.

Regardless, until someone begs me not, I will be matching these kids for life.

Baltic Essentials Necklaces

All my babes have worn amber necklaces essentially from birth. Frequently they’re referred to as amber “teething” necklaces as they are often associated with helping to ease the pain that infants and toddlers endure from teething as they release natural, pain relieving oils onto the skin.

Really, though, they can help with all kinds of aches and pains, not just the pain of teething, which is really pretty awesome and beneficial at all ages and stages of life.

But amber isn’t the only stone associated with bringing relief to little ones and adults alike. There are all sorts of stones that helps with many different issues and ailments.

Miss H and Sweet M each wear a necklace from Baltic Essentials that has seven other stones included with the Baltic amber (pink rose quartz, amethyst, lapis lazuli, turquoise, aventurine, chrysocolla, and red agate).

Why?

These stones are used to help ease stress, calm big emotions, dispel anxiety, and quell anger. And for my amazing, high needs, big feelings duo, it’s just the help they need in their big moments. Miss H even will say “I need to stop and focus on my necklace helping me for a minute while I get calm.”

Bean wears your typical amber necklace, but in addition she also uses a Baltic Essentials hazelwood necklace, as does Mr. B.

These two sweet loves got their Momma’s tummy troubles: reflux, eczema – those fun things. Hazelwood helps to alleviate those issues and soothe the tummy. Mr. B happily wears his 24/7, so that should say a lot.

My kiddos love their healing and soothing Baltic Essentials necklaces as one, and a super cute one at that, tool to helping with their daily well being!

***This post was sponsored by Baltic Essentials but as always, I only work with companies I genuinely love and believe in, and all thoughts and opinions are my own.

To the ER We Go

We are really fortunate that we have more great days than wtf days. I mean, even in our great days we have our moments, but I rarely have days that I consider it all a loss. They happen, but they’re not the norm.

The last week of November was a doozy for us though. I was all ready emotionally out of sorts. So I should have seen it coming.

After a loooong day I finally put the big kids to bed and crawled into bed with the babies, J still not home as he was working overtime. I’d just got us snuggled in as Miss H walked into the room.

I won’t lie, I was annoyed to see her there. I’d tucked her in 20 minutes ago and I was tired and this was just not the night to play 100 reasons to get out of bed.

“What?” I whispered, exasperated.

She whispered something to me that I swear to God sounded like “there was a mouse in my bed.”

I momentarily panicked. There aren’t mice here. Rats though, yes. If there was a freaking mouse in her bad she really meant there was a rat and Oh my god. I was not a good enough mother to deal with that. And then I started trying to figure out how a rat even got in our house. And do they have rabies? Oh shit.

Thankfully, or not, you choose, I heard her then say “there was something metal in my bed.”

“Metal,” I repeated. “Did you get hurt? Did it cut you?”

She shook her head, coming closer to me. “I swallowed it,” she answered.

I sat there for a moment, trying to figure out if I’d yet again misheard her.

“I went to put it on my window but it fell into my throat and I swallowed it,” she said.

I nodded.

Good grief.

What a story.

In my nearly 30 years of life I can say I have never had something accidentally fall into my mouth which I then swallowed. But I kid you not, that is her story and she is sticking to it.

“What was it exactly?” I asked.

She shrugged.

“Okay, ” I sighed, climbing out of bed, putting my clothes back on.

I wanted to sleep.

“What are you doing?” Miss H asked cautiously.

“Getting dressed so we can go to the ER when Papa gets home.” I mean, at this point she still seemed to be breathing so I didn’t feel like I needed to drag all four kids down to the ER.

“What?” Tears sprang to her eyes.

“Kid,” I said to her, leading her out of my room so as not to disturb the babies, “You just told me you swallowed something and don’t know what. It could be anything. A battery. A magnet. Who knows?”

“I don’t think it’s a battery or magnet.”

“Then do you know what it was?”

“No…”

Roughly 40 minutes later we were at the ER of the Women’s and Children’s hospital. I actually can not rave enough about this hospital and the phenomenal care we have received here.

A few x-rays later and we determined that Miss H had swallowed a flying saucer. Well, something metal that looked similar to a flying saucer. But otherwise, she was on the up and up and the doctor reminded her not to stick things into her mouth.

H stuck to her story. “It fell in there.” The doctor was a good sport and told her she should probably keep her mouth shut then while she’s laying in bed.

Home we went.

Finally.

I want to tell you that was the end of our ER trips that week, but alas…

Two nights later, feeling on top of the world because I was actually making a proper dinner at a proper time, baby was sleeping, kids were playing; Sweet M comes into the kitchen crying, Miss H behind him.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

M cradled his arm as I envisioned 8 weeks in a cast and now what in the heck would we do? We live on an island paradise, is 8 weeks of no beach even feasible?

It was deduced that while playing, H grabbed him by the wrist to take him off the couch. While better than a broken arm, he still had a dislocated elbow.

The one night I had my act together and was feeling like a million dollars, and I was even going to get to eat a hot dinner as I was headed back to the ER because no way was I going to attempt to pop it back in myself.

Seriously, nothing physically hurts your heart more than having a kiddo in pain. I’d have done nearly anything to have switched places with him as he clung to me and cried.

Per usual, the nurses and doctors were all outstanding and super quick and efficient. They popped it back in while I forced myself not to cry for him.

And then we went back home to three sleeping kiddos and dinner that J had kept warm for me. He’s a keeper.

Miss H may or may not have come back into my room at 4am that same night telling me she had swallowed something else. I may or may not have taken her back to the ER.

Y’all, we should get a discount at the ER at this point. That’s all I’m saying.

One Day at a Time

I will probably be saying this for at least the next year, if not forever, but four kids is not for the faint of heart.

I don’t believe in playing the “who has a harder game,” but J and I definitely sit and reminisce about those 17 months we had with only one child.


I mean, it was complete chaos and mayhem then. We had no idea what we were doing. We still don’t. But in that moment, we only had one child waking up in the middle of the night, one child with dirty diapers, one child throwing up when a stomach bug came around, one child who wanted our undivided attention, you get the point. Although it’s funny, because in those moments, it definitely didn’t seem any easier with just that one baby than it does now with four.  Probably because it wasn’t easier. It was just different. I think that’s why you start out with one kid at a time. OK, most people start out with one baby at a time. Some are blessed with more than that on their first go, whether through giving birth to multiples, or adopting multiple children at once.

But this fourth baby has made me take learning to give myself grace to a whole new level.


It’s trickier in a lot of ways, I think mostly because we are in Hawaii, and not back where we had our feet firmly on the ground. We’re still figuring things out. And then we threw in this other child.

I wouldn’t trade her, or this experience, for the world, but it’s definitely a learning curve.

I finally had to tell H today that this was her last month of gymnastics. Not because we can’t afford it, or because it’s too much time, but because it’s too much time in the car for Bean. We spend just as much time in the car with this god awful Honolulu traffic as she does in her class. And Bean literally screams her heart out the whole time we’re in traffic.

Not that I enjoy hearing any of my kids cry or complain, but a toddler or preschooler thatbis unhappy in the car is a lot less heartbreaking than an itsy-bitsy baby who just doesn’t understand and can’t be reasoned with. OK, so toddlers and preschoolers can’t really be reasoned with either. I mean, I like to think they can… But we all know better.


As I was cursing myself for having apparently lost one of Sweet M’s shoes in Costco this evening and forgetting to get gas, while trying to dice up onions while H held her sister so that maybe dinner wouldn’t be on the table too much past bedtime, H started reading to me magnets on the refrigerator that were given to us long ago by her godparents.

“Momma,”she said, “children are a gift from the Lord.” 


We are just going to pretend in that moment the tears that spraig into my eyes were from the onion I was chopping. After an afternoon that’s been a little hectic, and moments when I’ve probably been more frustrated and exasperated with these sweet people than I should be, it was exactly the reminder I needed.

They are a gift. Regardless of whether you believe in a higher being or not. These children are a gift. And somehow, I got them. I get to be the momma to these four amazing people.


And even in the most chaotic of days, it is obviously not crazy enough. Because I definitely fall asleep dreaming about what life would be if we added another… Don’t tell my husband. 😬

Mr. B is starting to read. It’s kind of the most beautiful and frustrating thing to witness. Yes, I won’t sugarcoat it and say it’s not frustrating. For me. He’s doing amazing and isn’t frustrated in the least bit. But I can never quite figure out how he sounds out the word “nut” and then yells “big!” I’m left scratching my chin wondering if we’ve been looking at the same book. But he is unphased. And over all, he is sailing through his reading lessons beautifully. And most importantly, he is so proud of himself, which is kind of one of the most amazing things in parenting to witness. Your child reading. At least it is for me. 


I had really feared we were behind in their homeschooling until I sat down over the weekend and started to really look at where we were at in the curriculum. And we just finished week 21 out of 36. So I think we’re going to be OK. That was a huge weight off my shoulders.

I’m really loving homeschooling them. But I’m also kind of looking forward to the day that there is another awesome school I can send them to and feel good about it. Miss H thrives in big environments. Me, not so much. B is a lot like me in that aspect and currently expresses no interest in ever attending school unless it’s college, but I suspect he’d change his mind if his sister were gone each day. We will see. Right now, we’re just taking it day by day.

I got brave enough this past week to take them to the beach without J. I had friends there to help, which was nice, but I also feel pretty confident that I can now do it by myself. As long as we are at the right toddler-friendly beach.


Bean enjoyed her first full dip in the ocean. And then yesterday we took her to the pool for the first time and she just ate that up. She is truly a water baby through and through. 

I’ve been re-reading “Unconditional Parenting” by Alfie Kohn (if you have a kid, are around kids, or know a kid, I can’t recommend this book enough!). It revolutionized my parenting years ago, and in the thick of things I’ve found myself falling back on old habits because they’re easier sometimes. 


But I keep talking to my kids. I keep telling them the kind of momma I want to be and apologizing when I’ve acted poorly myself because I want them to learn that even adults make mistakes and it’s okay to admit that and tell people you’re sorry. I also find myself muttering “I could be a nicer mom if my kids were crazy lunatics” sometimes, but…really, they’re pretty darn good kids. Sometimes I have to remind myself that the unattainable bar I set for myself isn’t fair to set for my kiddos, too. 

We also just got Bean a crib and side-carred it to my bed. And we bought her a new car seat. There are not words enough out there to praise my husband for putting up with his wife’s crazy. I’m not even gonna tell you how many car seats we have purchased since becoming parents.


Anyway, we have friends and family coming in over the next few weeks and I am so looking forward to my little niece or nephew to be born any day now! Time is flying out here.

Oh, and Sweet M stuck a giant pearl bead up his nose tonight. He was quite proud.  This is my life, yo. 

Yes, My Kids Eat Candy. No, They Are Not Unhealthy.

First, let me start off by apologizing about how pretentious I know I was when I had only one child. That first, sweet baby who would never eat candy, fast food, watch television, play with plastic toys, you get the gist.

The thing is, she’s done all those, and more. Lots of people would be horrified I’m sure. I admit, I have days where I am.

Sweet M it’s only 20 months old, and let me tell you, he definitely got in the spirit of Halloween last night. That kid will do just about anything for a lollipop or a piece of chocolate. And the fact that people would hand them out to him just for smiling and being cute: this is his holiday!

Miss H was like four before I ever took her trick-or-treating. Because, again, the horrors! 

I grew up in a world of fad diets, fat shaming, food restrictions, and lots of binge eating. I have always had a very tumultuous relationship with food because there never was balance. 

I want my kids to be healthy. I want them to be strong. And I don’t want them to struggle with food the way I have.

We buy healthy food (or what my generation knows to be healthy food anyway). Nearly all the food that we purchase at the grocery store is organic, non-GMO, grass fed, free range, etc. Unprocessed foods.

Snacks for kids are typically fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Applesauce, dried fruit, and organic beef jerky when we’re on the go.

I make it a priority to feed them well.

But you know what? Sometimes we eat at McDonald’s.

Sometimes we grab a donut or pastry.

I even let them try soda pop for the first time this year.

And I even let them eat the candy they received while trick-or-treating.

Yep. 

All that processed, artificial, corn syrup-laden junk.

They love it.

We always remove all the candy that has food dye. Miss H used to have a fairly severe allergy to food dye, and although she seems to have mostly outgrown it, we still go ahead and avoid it because it’s easy to do so and it’s gross anyway. (They did each keep three pieces of food-dye candy though.)

And they will spend the next day or two eating pieces of candy throughout the day. And then they will be over it, they will forget about it. I will probably binge eat most of it in the middle of the night and then insist J take it to work to get it out of the house because I have zero will-power and know that, and the world will keep turning.

And my kids?

They will still be healthy little beings who know which foods make them healthy, which foods make your body strong. They will still choose a fruit over a candy 99% of the time.

They were still play hard in nature and do yoga videos.

And they will grow up to have a healthy relationship with food because they will know that the occasional sweet treat or drive-thru French fries won’t be the end of the world when they’re still making healthy choices the other 95% of the time. They won’t binge-eat forbidden foods or feel deep guilt when they ruin whatever diet they think they should be on. 

They will be strong, healthy humans. 

Who eat trick-or-treat candy.

The Meltdown

Oh boy. Yesterday this sweet babe had his first mega meltdown. 

I mean, hysterics there was no hushing or helping. It was equal parts heartbreaking and frustrating. 

Why the meltdown? 

His papa had to go to work. 

I love how attached this little guy is to his papa; I mean, we’ve worked hard to create those healthy attachments with our kids. And after a week of papa on travel, he just couldn’t handle watching him walk out that door again. I get it. Sometimes I want to scream and rage when I watch him leave too. 

J came back inside four times to hug and kiss him and try to make things easier, but eventually he just had to go. And Sweet M wasn’t having it. And it broke my heart to see him so upset. And frustrated me to no ends because there was nothing I could do to “fix” it. 

I am, by nature, a fixer. It has been the most challenging part of motherhood for me: the inability to fix my children’s unhappiness. The second most challenging part has been accepting that it’s not my job to fix it either. 

Motherhood is a doozy. Complicated and messy and so unexplainably beautiful. And each day as I love and help to guide and teach these tiny humans, I also help to heal the broken parts of me. And I wouldn’t change a single part of the challenge and mess and joy for anything.  

Other than maybe the meltdowns. I could do without those if we are being honest, ha.

Bellows Beach

We are trying to see all the beaches here. It’s not a huge island, you would think this is easy. But you can literally go less than half a mile and have a brand new, totally different beach. So its slightly more challenging than expected. 

On the upside, when I say we are trying to see all the beaches here, I really mean we are trying to see all the kid friendly beaches here, which makes our goal a little easier. Because it doesn’t make sense for us to go to a beach where it is immediately deep, or  the waves are so big that we’re going to lose a kid or two. We’re a little attached to them.


We recently made it out to Bellows Beach, which is probably going on my list as one of my favorite beaches now.

Of course, the beach scene is much more difficult now, that there are four kids. As in, I haven’t yet tried to do it by myself. And I’m still very apprehensive about that. So we currently only doing the beach on the weekends when J is around. 

But our holiday weekend at Bellows was pretty ideal. Bean and I hung out in the tent, her mostly nursing and dozing off and on, I got to read a book (like a real, tangible book!).


The ocean was calm and shallow enough that we didn’t have to worry too much about our big kids. But there were enough waves for them to get their boogie boarding on. Which delighted them, because that’s all they ever want to do.


And J hung out with Sweet M. They built sandcastles and played in the waves. Literally for hours. 

The sand at this beach is so fabulously sweet that even I enjoyed it; and I don’t particularly love sand (because guess who has to clean up all that sand?).


We packed a feast so that we could be there all day, and even Sweet M napped on the beach.


I’d be a liar if I said this motherhood gig wasn’t challenging sometimes. There are days I literally think I’m going to lose my mind. But then I look at all these sweet people who I adore more than words could ever possibly articulate, and I am so, so thankful for this beautiful life of mine.

Things don’t always go as planned. Days dissolve in a matter of seconds. Kids fight, toddlers have meltdowns, babies have colic. But for every single exasperating moment, we make up for it tenfold in the calm, happy moments.


It’s not a glamorous life I lead. But it’s a good life. A happy life. And always, an entertaining life.

Cooking With Keiki

Okay, keiki is definitely my favorite Hawaiian word thus far. It’s pronounced “cake-ee” and means “kid/kids.” 

So anytime I say it I think of it as if I’m saying “cakey,” which, um, delish! And my little keiki are cakey and most of the time I really just want to eat them up. I mean, have you seen them? 

 

We’ve always kept our kids involved in the kitchen. It horrifies some people but I open the oven with Sweet M at my legs, and he stands on the stool and helps cook on the stove, etc. Our big kids did the same. But because they’ve always been involved, they learn kitchen safety early on.


This, of course, doesn’t mean they’re immune to accidents; they can occur to anyone. But in general, I don’t worry too much about letting them go about the kitchen on their own.

And since we’ve been in Oahu I’ve been trying to give them even more reign in the kitchen. 


Miss H often makes breakfast for everyone – pancakes are her specialty, and her brothers definitely appreciate the end results. Though Mr. B can make a mean pancake himself. 

They can both scramble eggs on their own. They cut up veggies like old pros and slice their brother’s grapes in half (yep, I’m one of those moms).

They cut up all the topping and shred chicken and compose their own pizzas for dinner. 


Basically, they’re well on their way to being fully self-reliant. Someday they’ll know how to cook for themselves and not rely on microwave meals and fast food (although, we don’t even have a microwave, so maybe they will. It’s always a novelty they marvel over when on travel).

I really don’t want them to grow up to be the young adults who live off of cereal and ramen because that’s all they know how to cook.

I get it. It’s daunting to hand your 3-year-old a pairing knife, but if you teach them early about kitchen safety, then it’s really not quite so scary. And they will be so prod of themselves and much more fulfilled; I swear it.


Plus, it’s really handy and helpful to be able to ask kiddos to help out in the kitchen when you’re busy changing diapers or feeding a baby or scrubbing a toilet; and they don’t feel like it’s work because it’s something they enjoy!

Cooking with your keiki from day one is a win-win for everyone! 

Driving home, mind racing a million miles a second as a Momma’s mind does. 

So much of the world is hurting right now. 

And we aren’t talking scraped knees, we are talking full on heart attacks and kidney failure; possibilities that it may not be able to be repaired, and if it can be, it will take a long time. No easy fix. 

I’ve got four small humans who depend on me. For everything. Not just to feed and clothe them, but to guide them in good morals and teach them empathy. 

To love them so fully and unconditionally that they learn to love themselves equally so. 

I also really suck at cooking and I’m sick of trying to figure this food business out Every. Single. Day. 

And maybe I want to go back to school. Not to work, but maybe to school. 

And there I am when suddenly the voice on the radio sings to me, “She’s a good girl, loves her mama…” and that’s when it starts. 

Free fallin’. 

Those tears are unstoppable and I don’t know why it’s this moment that they finally fall. The cathartic letdown in the midst of so much pain. 

So much uncertainty. 

So much beauty.