Category Archives: jack henry

From Really Picky to Much Less Picky.

I wish I could say with all sincerity “from really picky to not at all!” in the title, but that would be a lie.

And per rule #5 on the family chalkboard, we don’t tell lies. Also, note to self: learn how to letter in chalk. We’ll go ahead and call that a 2014 goal, since I haven’t set any yet.

photo 3

We still have some fairly picky eaters in this house.

And they come by it honestly; my dad called me “Picky Nikki” for years, and I still have a few food aversions (but really, who doesn’t?). However, I mostly overcame my pickiness by high-school age, and I am SO happy that my kids are overcoming it much earlier than I did. Because life is too short not to eat good food and try new things, right?

Last weekend, I thought of a salad I used to order at a restaurant called Cheddar’s, which we don’t have in the St. Louis area. They make this awesome Grilled Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad that I love. I used to make it years ago for Matt and me for dinner sometimes, but along the way (“the way” being several years of children who don’t eat salad), it was forgotten.

I got all excited, thinking about making it for dinner. I meal-planned on Sunday (the week ALWAYS goes better when this happens), and put it on Monday night. I gave the boys a heads-up that we were having this, and the older two were actually excited. That’s the moment I realized it: we have come really, really far.


Probably 2 years ago, I started introducing very basic Romaine lettuce salads as a side at dinner. It started as a couple of bites loaded with dressing gagged down by the boys (then 8, 6 and 4ish), and turned into a regular part of our weeknight dinners over time. They all eat a side salad with a sensible amount of dressing with absolutely no problem now, but all prefer the salad fairly plain: lettuce, spinach (they do best if it’s chopped up and not whole leaves, but that’s fine), a little cheese, maybe some croutons.

We introduce lots of things like this: alongside other things they really like, with a “try a bite or two” rule. I realize there are some foods they’ll never like (Luke STILL can’t eat green beans without gagging), and that’s fine, but repeated exposure to so many things has meant expanded palates and more dinner choices for us.

Jack Henry is easily still the pickiest, but I have to say, he’ll readily try almost anything new. He doesn’t often get a new “favorite” from those tries, but we press on. Bennett is probably the most adventurous eater and frankly, has the biggest appetite…he tries things and generally likes more new things than the others. Luke isn’t far behind Bennett; a tad less adventurous, but occasionally surprising us, like asking for shrimp while on vacation last summer (I eat exactly 0 seafood; Matt loves it, so Luke ate some of Matt’s dinner a time or two).


Back to Monday night’s dinner salad, which consisted of:
Romaine lettuce
Baby spinach
Shredded parmesan cheese
Rotisserie chicken breast
Cooked rotini pasta (penne or farfalle would be fine, too)

I told the boys that I’d pile everything on their plate but not mix it up, in case they’d prefer the parts of the salad plain. The 2 older boys sampled the Caesar dressing and wanted that; Jack Henry stuck to his favorite, Zia’s. Luke and Bennett promptly mixed their salads on their plates (we have some these from Nana Jo, and we use them ALL the time! Fun, right?) and ate them like grown humans eat a salad: all mixed up. Jack Henry picked at the components of his, which is fine by me, since he ate his chicken, some of the pasta, and a good amount of lettuce/spinach.

do you love the leftover jimmy john's napkins?

do you love the leftover jimmy john’s napkins? classy.

yum. i was so happy that there were leftovers the next day!

yum. i was so happy that there were leftovers the next day!

On to Tuesday night’s dinner: soup in a bread bowl. The boys used to HATE soup, so I’ve always always served it with some kind of bread. I feel like it softens the blow of a food they don’t like, you know? Well, over time, they’ve gotten to the point of liking a couple of different soups, so I thought bread bowls would be fun. The older 2 loved it…Bennett had seconds on the soup! JH still doesn’t like soup, so he picked at the parts of his he liked, and of course, loved the bread bowl. No kid has ever loved carbs like Jack Henry, I tell you.

And Luke made a pronouncement that I’ll not likely forget: “Mom, you’re right about trying things a lot of times. What’s that called? Repeated exposure? Yeah. It really works.”

Sage parenting advice from the 11-year-old, y’all.

Tonight is steak fajita night (smart shoppers: check your grocery’s meat section for meat that needs to be sold that day…Schnucks has a marked-down section, usually 25% off, where the meat still looks great but just needs to be eaten in the next day or two or frozen immediately.). They won’t eat the vegetables on their fajitas, so they’ll have another vegetable on the side. I’m fine with that, provided they try a bite of a onion or pepper. That’s all I ask.

So if you’re out there wondering if your picky toddler will EVER eat anything normal, I tell you:
1. Stay the course. This can get better.
2. Continue to introduce new or not-favorite things. Repeat exposure is the only way this is going to work. (or, seeing a role model eat the food you want them to eat; peer pressure is a powerful thing)
3. Don’t give in just because it’s easy…you’re in charge here! Pick your battles, but your kid isn’t going to starve if he/she chooses not to eat the dinner you’re serving. You aren’t a short-order cook.

Hang in there, friends! You can do this.

Pretending Like This Isn’t Happening.

Bennett threw up on Saturday morning. When we made it to Tuesday morning with no one else getting sick, I’ll admit: I thought it was over.

I fully realize now that was a bit presumptuous of me.

For tonight at dinner, Jack Henry threw up right in his dinner plate. (Mark that down as a first, I’m pretty sure.) This is something I will not soon forget, nor do I think I will be able to eat the meal I was serving tonight again for a long time.

I felt so bad for him…they’re just so sad and scared and grossed out when they’re this young.

Not kidding, though, and this is a true testament to what is important to him, 5 minutes after barfing he asked, “can I still have dessert tonight?”

he's just so cute and lovable.

he’s just so cute and lovable.

Yeah. That’s a no.

Now that he’s sleeping comfortably, I’m going to do what I do best in these situations: pour a glass of wine, sit in front of the fire with the laptop and daydream on about where we might vacation next summer. This seems a totally reasonable response to me.

Saturday Afternoon

Hard at work with a little reading (a nonfiction fish book is providing the topic), writing questions on post-it notes (do you know how happy post-it notes make kindergartners?) and learning about appropriate apostrophe usage (be still my heart) on this chilly Saturday afternoon.




Today is the 6th anniversary of my blog, and this is my 1501st post!

I don’t have my next Boston post ready, but I do have these funnies to share:

1. Yesterday Luke ran a mile for PE (they do this several times a year). I asked how it went, and he said, “Well, I’m not my best when it’s this cold (it was about 38 yesterday morning during PE for him). I didn’t have my best time at all.”
Me: “Well that’s ok! You won’t always run your best time, you know. How fast did you run it?”
Luke: “7:39.”
Me: “Um Luke? I’ve literally never in my whole life run a mile that fast!”
Luke: “Eh. It’s fine.”

For the record: my fastest mile since getting in shape is around 10 minutes, and I’ve never been able to replicate it.

2. I know I mentioned on Facebook, but I don’t think I did on here, that Bennett’s baseball hat for his team from last summer stunk SO BAD that I almost couldn’t be in the van with him with the windows up. His gear bag stunk, too, from it. So near the end of the summer season, I washed it. I was nervous about what might happen to it, but I had no choice. Thankfully, it came out fine, and while the smell didn’t completely vanish, it was significantly better.

Luke and Bennett had to get fitted this week for their baseball uniforms for next spring (I know…super dumb. 6 months is a long time in kid growth potential. But I digress…). When the lady asked if he already had a hat, I said, “Yes, but he’s getting a new one for next year,” and Bennett flipped out.

“But MOM! That’s my HAT. I KNOW it’s dirty and smelly but it shows that I play hard. I’m NOT getting a new one.”

Me, in that quiet-but-firm-I-am-not-messing-around-here voice: “Yes, you are. You can dirty this one up, too.”

For real? How can you be so attached to something that smells that bad?

3. Jack Henry and I were walking through school today after the bell rang. 3 of his classmates (all girls) ran over to him and said goodbye, and then one asked him for a hug. Then the next, and the next, and I’m not even kidding, Jack Henry said, “Come and get it!” All four of them stood there hugging each other. It was adorable. And freaked me out a little bit.

Thank you, friends, for reading along and sticking around for so long. I’m so grateful. And the next post will be a fun giveaway that I’ve done every year for the past several, so you’ll want to come back and enter to win!

You Have Got to be Kidding Me.

You guys. On Sunday I posted the following to my Facebook page:


So that was totally gross, but I didn’t think anything of it again until Thursday evening.
On Wednesday, Jack Henry showed me that he had a canker sore on his cheek. I gave him some stuff to swish around in his mouth, but we all know how not-helpful anything is to treat canker sores.

Yesterday after school (his birthday, mind you), he told me his canker sore was really hurting, but he otherwise felt completely fine. I took a good look in his mouth and noticed three things:

1. The canker sore was larger and very painful-looking.
2. Hey! His 6 year molars are about to come through the surface! (Funny how after the two-year molars come in, and your kid learns to brush his own teeth, you barely even look in his mouth again.)
3. Oh crap. There are spots on his throat. And the roof of his mouth.

I will normally let things go for a little while to see if they heal on their own, but with this I made an immediate call to the doctor. I got him an appointment for 9:15 this morning.

We went to dinner at CPK, and he ate less than normal. I could tell he just wasn’t quite himself.

His Aunt Heidi called to wish him a happy birthday as we were leaving dinner, and after JH was done talking to her, I sent her a text to say thanks. I mentioned that I didn’t think he was feeling great, and Heidi texted back:
Oh no!!!!!!! Poor guy! The balloon!! ;-)

Oh. My. Gosh.

So gross.

This morning, he has more canker sores on his lips, and then it occurred to me to check his hands. Yep. One spot on his hand. None on his feet.

I just made an official Mom, MD diagnosis of Hand, Foot and Mouth. I cancelled our real doctor’s appointment (just in the nick of time, so there’s no cancellation fee! Yay!) and will instead give my boy some Motrin and get to work cleaning my house. I feel like the best solution would be to Lysol-bomb the house and then leave for an hour, but there’s nowhere to go with a contagious kid.

Instead, he’s hanging out in my bed, watching his old favorite preschooler shows (never fear, Matt, I will be changing the sheets before we sleep in them again).




“Buddy! ¬†Are you so excited that it’s your birthday tomorrow?”

“Yeah!” came his response. Followed a moment later by, “But it’s also a little sad. Because I’ll never be five again. And five was fun.”

Which almost made me cry.


One. Two. Three. Four. Five.

Just like that, baby #3 has joined the ranks of the big school kids.

He’s had a couple of celebrations to mark the occasion. We started with his family party last Saturday, had presents arrive in the mail this week, and then today included saying the Pledge over the intercom at school (seriously, this was a HUGE deal), having birthday treats in his class, then dinner at CPK (his choice, of course) and presents back at home.

About those class birthday treats, and what makes kindergartners great: there’s another little boy in JH’s class with a birthday today. Because his classroom is nut-free due to allergies, we have to be careful to choose snacks that are ok (I’m not complaining; just stating a fact). So it cracked me up that me and the other mom chose Oreos (albeit in 2 different forms) as treats! I need to get to know this other mom, and then if Jack Henry and this little boy are in the same homeroom again, we can coordinate and come up with some amazing birthday treats together! But here’s what’s cool to me: it wasn’t annoying or thunder-stealing for him to share his birthday. It was all the more awesome because there were DOUBLE treats today (the teacher wisely had them eat one and bring one home!). Older kids, and frankly, grown-ups, can learn a lot from kindergartners.


When Luke started preschool and then elementary, it was a typical firstborn, fairly sheltered situation. So when I’d interact with kids in his class that were 2nd or 3rd borns, whose siblings were a few years older, and they were so, I don’t know, savvy, it freaked me out. Made me wonder what in the world was going on in their homes that they knew so much.

And then my thirdborn started growing up. And I started praying a few years ago for grace and mercy from the parents of firstborns who would someday be his classmates. Because he just knows more than he probably should about a lot of things. For instance, at 2, he hollered out at a baseball game that he got hit in the nuts by a ball. Sigh. I’m waiting for a call from school.

But I’m hoping he just knows better by now. Right? RIGHT?


I know that snippets isn’t really my typical birthday style, but I don’t have much new to say from his past birthday posts. Jack Henry is such a delight to have in our family. I’m not sugarcoating reality; he has his trying moments (testing out his scissors on the kitchen table this week, for instance, or constantly irritating his brothers for sport), but overall, he’s just such a joyful, fun person to be around, and I love him for that.

I can’t wait to see what he learns by seven. :)

That’s Brothers for Ya

Several weeks ago, while in Effingham for a family reunion with Matt’s side, the boys were playing in the basement at Matt’s parents’ house. Matt’s cousin, Andy, had gone downstairs for a minute and when he came back up, mentioned that 2 of 3 Diehl boys weren’t bleeding. I laughed and said something like, “That’s good!”, thinking he was joking, so I didn’t go check on the situation.

He wasn’t joking. When Jack Henry came upstairs much later, he had a bloody mark next to his nose.

The boys had been running around with some little horses, and Bennett apparently (accidentally, he claims) ran into Jack Henry’s face with the hoof of a hard plastic horse. It made a little puncture wound.

I called Bennett upstairs to talk about this, and he was like, “What? It was an accident. I took care of it. I got him a wet kleenex to clean up the blood, and he wasn’t really crying that much, so I didn’t get you.”

Score one for older kids: no need to involve Mom when a wet kleenex takes care of the blood.

One of Matt’s other cousins, Becca, is married to a doctor (Bryan), so I asked him to take a look at it. No stitches needed, but he said it would probably heal with a little pucker. And wouldn’t you know it, he was right.

jh face scar

I realize that a close-up picture of the scar at this point would make for a better blog post. However, he’s at school right now, and I don’t have a pic of the scar, so you seeing the location of it is just going to have to do.

So JH now has this still-pink, relatively-fresh puckered scar right next to his nose. On the way to church Sunday morning, he was touching it and said he liked how it felt. I told him, “You know, that scar will be there forever. It won’t always be that pink, but that texture* will stay the same.”

To which smarty-pants Bennett** immediately chimes, “You’re welcome, Jack.”

Me: “What? You’re welcome?”

B: “Yeah. Scars are cool, man. And I gave that one to him.”


here they are in a moment of togetherness that did not involve an injury.  that particular flight of the styrofoam plane was ill-fated, though.

here they are in a moment of togetherness that did not involve an injury. that particular flight of the styrofoam plane was ill-fated, though.

*school tie-in, he’s learning about different textures right now, go me.
**Increasingly becoming really funny, when he’s not busy annoying me or his brothers or injuring someone.

Country Boy.

It’s no secret that I love country music {with approximately a million caveats about what songs I like, none of which make much sense to other people. In general, though, I don’t like country music that’s TOO country, ya know?}.

Naturally, the boys like country music, too. Especially Jack Henry, who has developed this amazingly awesome country accent over the summer.

I couldn’t believe he granted me permission to share this with the world, since he’s recently become pretty private about what information is public (I always get permission from the boys before posting something). I told him I’d happily just record this for our family to have, but he said he was fine with it!

Cracks me up. Take a listen. I love that he gets about 80% of the lyrics right.

Out of the Mouths of Babes, Part 28

It’s been forever since I’ve had a post like this (February, I checked), but I have 2 quick lines from Jack Henry’s mouth that needed to be recorded…

1. This morning, as with nearly every school morning, I had to wake him and his brothers at 6:20* **. He rolled over and said, “How can it be morning already?” I’ve also so far this school year heard when waking him, “Well, that was fast.” and “Did I actually sleep a whole night? That felt like a nap!” He’s having a great start to kindergarten, but I think it’s fair to say it’s wearing him out. And he goes to bed by 8 most nights, sometimes 7:30. Exhausting.


2. At breakfast, we were talking about what kind of food we’ll have at his birthday party with our family this Saturday. He was describing some chips he wanted me to buy but couldn’t remember the name. His description? “They’re yellow, and they look like hammocks.” Oh, you mean Fritos? “YES!!! FRITOS!” So I’m getting him Fritos, even though I think they smell like feet.

*so they can poke around for 25 minutes getting ready, then head downstairs for breakfast, helping make lunches/cleaning up the kitchen, and out the door by 7:15 with their dad. Early starts are rough, but I like it better than if we were a 9am start like some elementaries in our district!

**Nevermind that on Saturday, he was up at 5:45 on his own.

Homework and Small Miracles

Today after school was a fairly typical day…pick up the kids, come home for a snack, quick ortho appointment for Luke (no braces yet – probably still a year away), and then home for homework, dinner, showers, family viewing of last week’s “Great Food Truck Race,” etc.

However, for the first time, all 3 kids had homework this evening. And all of them needed some degree of help from me. AND, I had several things that needed to get done before I could even start dinner. I kinda feel like I thrive on this chaos, though, so this doesn’t freak me out, and my kids are old enough to help with things so here’s how it went down:

-tell Luke to start his homework
-help Jack Henry get started on his milestones project, and while he’s working…
-fill out Bennett’s field trip paperwork, and oh yeah, Mom? Will you please go with me on this one?
-Sidenote: pray for me as I ride the bus to the Botanical Gardens with 3rd graders (if I get picked to go)
-ask B if he’d please at least start unloading the dishwasher while I help Luke with science homework (shoot me now – levers and fulcrums. I hate.)
-check in with JH, who’s doing fine and dandy on his project
-watch in amazement as B asks if he should also just go ahead and load the dirty dishes into the dishwasher, since he’s finished unloading it completely (YES.)
-work through Order of Operations math homework with Luke (which I actually enjoy, probably because this is about the hardest math that I understand)
-realize, while working with Luke, that B and JH are playing quietly together. This is newsworthy, because they are often not besties. THEN realize that no, they AREN’T playing, Jack Henry is quizzing Bennett on his spelling words list.



I wish I could figure out what made this amazingness happen so I could replicate it, but we all know that’s pointless, so I’m just enjoying this today, and bracing for the normal that will likely be back tomorrow.

PS…If you haven’t read Jen Hatmaker’s “Hope for Spicy Families” get on over there and do that now. I love my spicy family!