Category Archives: parenting

Bennett+Stitches, Take 1

As this blog is my children’s baby book, it’s only appropriate that this whole story be told here. With Bennett’s blessing, of course.

And that Take 1 is in the title because I’m certain this won’t be my last ER trip for stitches with this one. As it stood until Friday night, he was the only Diehl kid to require an ER visit for anything other than breathing problems, and that time (at age 2), the doctors were able to glue his little wound back together.

Not this time.

In true mom-blogger fashion, let me tell the story. This all went down Friday night. Luke and I were attending the Kids Night Out fundraiser (proceeds benefit the 5th grade end-of-year party) at school…of course, he was there to hang out with friends, and I was there to work the event. Matt was to have the other 2 boys with him for the evening, which included Bennett’s baseball practice.

5:25: Matt’s not home from work yet, but I need to be up at school. I send the boys to the van, and one of them, who shall remain nameless, thought it would be funny to fake drive the van and crank the steering wheel. When I go to start the van, I can’t get the key to turn in the ignition. I knew that I was supposed to turn the wheel while trying to turn the key, but I absolutely could not get it to turn. Guilty child feels VERY bad, is crying and apologizing profusely, and I am cursing under my breath and repeatedly trying to start the van. Finally, literally 8 minutes later, I’m able to get it started. Lesson learned for the child.

5:33: Matt pulls in the garage. B and JH exit the van, and stay home with Matt.

5:35: L and I arrive at school, and enjoy Kids Night Out until…

8:40: Matt calls me, and though he’s speaking calmly, I can hear the panic in his voice. “Bennett’s had a little accident, and he probably needs stitches.” I tell him that I’ll round up Luke, and wait for him to call me and let me know where he wants me to meet him: home or the hospital.

8:45: I’ve gathered my things, I’m searching the school for Luke, and I get a text that simply says, “Yes, stitches.” I find Luke, Matt calls me and tells me to meet him at home, and we head out of school.

8:50: Matt, the bleeding-from-the-head kid and Jack Henry arrive a couple of minutes after we do. Bennett gets out of the car and removes the ice pack/rag combo from his head, and I blurt out, “Yes, that needs stitches. Get in the van, Bennett.” At this, he starts to cry…Matt hadn’t told him yet that he needed to go the ER. I can’t say I blame him, since we both knew that Bennett would panic at this news.

8:55-9:15: Longest drive to Mercy Hospital ever, save the time I was in labor and it was freezing raining outside. Bennett has calmed down, and tells me the story of what happened. His practice is at a local elementary school, and after they finished practicing, the boys raced out of the gym to play a little tag. B looked behind him while he was running, and when he turned back to the front, ran headlong into a metal handrail. His teammates said he cried out and that they saw a lot of blood. Turns out, really, for a head injury especially, it didn’t bleed that much, and I heard from so many parents who were there that Bennett just stayed totally calm. Probably helped that he didn’t look in the mirror at all.

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telling the triage nurse his story.

9:35: B is seen by a triage nurse, asked the story of what happened the first of 5 times. It occurs to me at this point that it might be helpful to have each boy’s medical history in my phone; as she asked about his surgical/medical history, I stumbled over what was him and what was L or JH in my memory. And that kinda makes me feel like a bad mom.

9:45: brought to our room in the ER; B is given a new ice pack. Bleeding has slowed to a very slow seep.

10:45: We’ve watched a full hour of Ice Age when I decide to step outside the room and ask when we might be seen, since we’ve literally had no one even step in our room this whole time. Magically, they tell me his case has just been “claimed”, and lo and behold, less than 2 minutes later, the NP appears to assess. He tells us that he definitely needs stitches, both above and below the eye. This is very upsetting news to Bennett :(. I fall back on my training as a Child Life Specialist to talk him through what’s about to happen. *Outside of this wait, care here was exceptional, and I would totally use this children’s ER again.*

10:50: Nurse comes in to apply numbing gel (no shots needed – yeah!). We wait.

11:25: Nurse applies second round of numbing gel. We start watching Elf…distractions are good.

11:40: NP and nurse come in to start the procedure. Bennett has to lay flat on his back and has a towel draped around his injured eye, so he can’t really see the TV anymore, but he can hear it…and we know Elf by heart, so he continues to laugh while they get to work. 2 stitches in the tiny cut below the eye. 2 stitches inside and 7 outside in his eyebrow. NP apologizes for the stitches taking so long, as he said that stitching along the eyebrow is tricky due to trying to keep the hairs on the outside of the wound. Me: no apology needed. He’s doing a fantastic job.

12:25: Discharge notes and we’re out the door, on our way to picking up a late-night cheeseburger and fries for my little champ.

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this was sunday morning…definitely the day it looked the worst.

By Saturday morning, Bennett was pretty proud of the whole thing, and though I worried a little that he’d be self-conscious about how he looked, I shouldn’t have. This is a badge of honor. When I asked him if I could blog about this, he said, “Of course!”

—–

Slowing down is not something Bennett does on purpose, ever. Saturday he definitely took it easy, and Sunday, too. By Monday, though, I noticed that he was back to full speed, and that made me nervous with him at school by Tuesday (Monday was a snow day). The tape came off last night, and his stitches look good, so recovery is going well so far!

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tuesday night, after the tape came off

Snow Day Math

1. How many times will someone say “Who farted?” over the course of one day? There are 5 people in the house, and they will all be awake together for approximately 12 hours. It is important to note that the house is 4/5 male.

Round to the nearest 10.

2. Similar to question 1, how many times will one boy angrily say “Duuuuddde!” while playing the card game Ruckus, a game which involves making a subjective call on who spoke for or grabbed what card first?

Again, round to the nearest 10.

3. Multiply your two answers to determine the number of ounces of wine you should have available per supervising adult for after bedtime.

—-

Really, it was a fun day to be stuck at home. We decided this morning to let each family member pick a game to play, so we spent much of the day laughing and hanging out in front of the fireplace, watching it snow significantly less than expected, playing games.

I also managed to curl up on the couch for an hour-long nap, which just never happens, so that was glorious.

And just to record for posterity our one-for-the-record-books year, snow day #10 is tomorrow. We’re officially into the mercy-rule days where the kids only have to make up every other missed day of instruction. Incredible.

Reducing the Panic.

Last week, as my kids played outside after school, a little girl 3 hours from our home was snatched by a man in a truck as she walked down the street. Neighbors tried to stop her from getting in the truck, and they chased the abductor to be able to give the police a good description of who he was. (I seriously cannot imagine their heartbreak, knowing they were so close to saving her.) 3 hours later, when police found the man, the little girl was already dead, and her murderer had cleaned up the scene.

Of course, we didn’t know that last part at 6:45 that night, when the first Amber Alert came over our phones.

The sound is startling, and for good reason…it’s supposed to get your attention. I don’t mind it getting my attention. I do, however, mind it getting my kids’ attention.

Because that’s what happened that night. Luke and Bennett were sitting at the table eating dessert (Jack Henry had thankfully already gone upstairs), and asked what the noise was. I told them what it was, but immediately tried to assure them that this is very rare, and that a stranger kidnapping almost NEVER happens.

I went on to describe how many times, if there is a kidnapping, it’s a non-custodial parent or mentally ill or on-drugs friend/family member who has taken the children. Of course, this lead to a long discussion of how a parent can “kidnap” their own child, and explanations of what kinds of things make a parent unfit to care for their children, etc. We’ve talked about these things many times in regards to foster care and adoption, but not in the light of kidnapping.

In the morning, when I woke up, I realized that one of my kids had gotten up in the night and turned on the hallway light without coming in to wake me up. Only one kid does this in our family: Bennett. I asked him if he’d had a bad dream, and he said yes, but clarified that more than that, he just woke up a few times and couldn’t easily fall back asleep, thinking about being kidnapped.

Totally natural reaction to our conversation the night before (and thankfully, he’s slept fine since then).

That evening, as the 2 older boys and I drove home from JH’s baseball practice where we’d dropped him off with Matt, they had more questions about kidnappings and drug use and custody. Lots of comments from me about how an adult should never need to ask a kid for help with something (directions, finding a lost dog, etc), and that it’s not disrespectful to just scream/run away/into the house if that ever happened at our house or a friend’s.

All conversations that were informative and beneficial to them, I think. All meant to put their minds at ease, too, about the frequency with which stranger abduction occur.

However, I don’t need that phone Amber Alert freaking them out with regularity. Because the truth is, since last spring, I think I’ve gotten 4 Amber Alerts on my phone. And I’m telling them that it doesn’t happen frequently, but I’m thinking that in a kid’s head, that number might not seem infrequent.

I turned off the Amber Alert notification on my phone. I’m thankful to a lady I know from church who told me this was an option. I’m on my phone/Facebook/news sites frequently enough to see the news if something happens locally that I need to concerned about.

Some will call this being overprotective, and that’s fine. I don’t think it is; there’s plenty of bad in the world that kids are exposed to now and even more as they get older and can handle the information better. They’ve been exposed to plenty of tragedy for kids of their age. Just 2 years ago, they had to process the deaths of 2 schoolmates.

For more information on ways to talk to your kids about strangers, this post is good…not perfect, but lots of great concepts to try to teach your kids.

EDITED TO ADD: Please don’t read this as me not caring about someone else’s child who has gone missing. Like I said above, I’m plenty “plugged in” to get the alerts myself frequently without my boys having to worry about it.

If you’re interested, and have an iPhone, here are the instructions: settings>notification center>government alerts (all the way at the bottom of the page)>amber alerts. If you have an Android device, google the name of your phone and “turn off amber alerts.”

In a Boy House…

- Bennett read a book from the school library called “300 Weird Facts about Animals” or something like that. There were 5 facts that he relayed to the family; every one of them involved poop. For instance, did you know that wombats poop cubes? Well, now you do.

- Thursday night, Matt and I had dentist appointments…please join me in celebrating no cavities this visit, which used to the norm for me, but since 35, has definitely not been. Anyway, there was a new dentist there, a young, unmarried girl. We were talking Olympics, and how the boys like sports with amazing feats (slopestyle skiing and snowboarding, halfpipe, skeleton, you know, stuff where there’s a good chance of serious injury or death), and how they’d been enduring figure skating when it comes on. I said something like, “I think they’re pretty much just always waiting for someone to fall.”

Which, I realized after I said it, based on her reaction, made them sound like horrible little monster children (keep in mind: she has no children, AND she’s never met mine. I am making a stellar first impression). I said, “They’re really nice kids…and they’ve definitely come to appreciate the athleticism it takes to skate and jump, but they aren’t fans.” Know your audience, Nicole.

Analyzing this later, I think that it’s not that they want to see people fail (I mean, I seriously hope not), but they love America’s Funniest Home Videos, which is filled with unexpected failure caught on tape, right? And they see people doing these amazing stunts, and expect it’s going to go wrong.

-7:30am on a Saturday during the Olympics = US Hockey.

-This text exchange:

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I love them. So much. But I could definitely go for less talking about poop.

Trying to Solve the Mystery.

I love a good mystery/thriller in a book or a movie. In one of my kids, not so much.

Back in early November, when Bennett had a cough that had turned into bronchitis, we started investigating the possibility that his frequent, long-lasting coughing had an underlying cause. That post is here, detailing how fun he was on Albuterol for the first time (I know, that one’s going to be funny someday. Right now? Too soon.). We followed up with a trip to the allergist, which I wrote about here.

bennett 2

Both our pediatrician and the allergist suspected intermittent asthma, brought on by sickness and/or allergies (exercise, thankfully, does not seem to be a problem). However, when we were at the allergist and he did the breathing test, he passed (meaning they didn’t detect the asthma at the time). And we didn’t see any improvement when he was on the Albuterol; his bronchitis finally cleared 2 rounds of antibiotics later, but a nagging cough hung around. FOR WEEKS AND WEEKS. Chronic coughing is kryptonite to me, I know this now.

During one bad coughing spell of a couple of days, I took him back to the doctor (this was very early December, I think), but we saw one of the other docs in our practice. To try to get a good idea of what was going on, since she’d never seen him before, she asked in depth about his health history. Long story and appointment short, she suspected that he might have silent reflux. Given his history of spitting up as a baby and his recurrent cough, she thought that this was something to consider.

I was very interested in this angle…I read up a lot on it, talked to Karen (she’s a dietician) and her husband Rich (a doctor) a lot, and had a nice long phone conversation with our pediatrician about investigating this as a possibility. He was on board, given that we weren’t so far seeing success with asthma treatment, and this couldn’t hurt to try.

We did a 3-week dose of Zantac (after reading about long-term side-effects, I was adamant about him not being on acid-reducer medications for long, but agreed to try it at the beginning to give him some time to heal if that’s what needed to happen), and at the same time, put him on a low-fat, low-acid diet. Which is harder than it sounds, particularly for a kid who doesn’t in the least need to be on low-fat foods. I mean, I purposely load his PB&J with peanut butter to get him a few extra calories!

bennett 3

He religiously took the medicine, and I religiously watched his diet, and ya know what? He kept coughing. There were days that were better than others, but the cough did not go away. If it was reflux-related, we really should’ve seen some noticeable improvement over that period of time. And we didn’t.

So we abandoned the reflux idea.

And he kept coughing for the next few weeks.

It should be noted that Bennett is relatively unbothered by the coughing…just because it’s so normal to him, I guess. Unless he has bronchitis, he never seems to be in pain or anything.

However, Matt and I couldn’t take it anymore finally decided that I needed to take him back to our pediatrician and go over everything we’ve tried, and make a plan for what needs to happen next. We brought this up to our small group, and asked them to pray for Bennett to stop coughing, and for us to be able to find an answer to all of this.

The next morning, I called the doctor and made an appointment for the following week. The next day? Bennett stopped coughing. I’m not even kidding. He kept not-coughing all through the next week, and of course, did not have a cough when we went to the doctor (though, honestly, that wasn’t a huge deal…he’s heard him before, and his file shows his repeated issues with croup and bronchitis over the years).

The doctor and I went through everything we’ve tried, and he really felt that we can rule out reflux. Good, because that was a major pain in the rear. He really still thinks it’s asthma, and this time, he put him on an inhaled steroid for maintenance (twice a day, even when not coughing – he’s taking QVar for those of you in-the-know with asthma meds. Cheaper than Flovent for the record), and wanted us to have a rescue inhaler to use when he is symptomatic. I politely requested Xopenex, and he gladly prescribed that for me in place of Albuterol, calling it “Albuterol Lite.” So Bennett-on-speed will hopefully not be making a reappearance.

He’s been on the QVar for 2 weeks, and out of the blue on Monday, he started coughing again (tiniest bit of a runny nose, but I can’t even say he has a cold, it’s so slight), so I went and filled the Xopenex script yesterday and he started that. He’s using his inhalers like a boss, not having to use the spacer anymore, which is much easier.

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So, we’re in the “we’ll see” stage again. It’s maddening to not know if this is going to work, or if asthma is even what he has for sure. But I’ve definitely learned that asthma is a tricky and sometimes-elusive thing to pin down, so I’m trying to be patient.

Small group: keep praying. :)

One Step Forward, Two Back: The Organization Edition

Seriously. Just when I get excited that one area of my life/house is totally under control, I realize that two (or eight, whatever) are totally NOT under control.

**Sneak: I have a fun organizing surprise coming your way in a couple of weeks! Stay tuned.**

I’m lucky enough to have have 3 freezers: the one in the kitchen (it’s a side-by-side, horrible in terms of storage, makes me curse at it regularly), our extra bottom fridge/top freezer in the basement that we brought here from our old house (when you buy 6 gallons of milk at a time, you need an extra fridge), and our half-size deep freeze, a floor model purchased years ago, and still an awesome investment.

I buy lots of stuff in bulk: shredded cheese, chicken, ground beef, bacon, bread. Plus more stuff. Plus all of the applesauce Heather and I make annually. So we use a lot of this space.

However, I often don’t know what I have in the freezers. On the first of the year, prompted by what I don’t know, I cleaned them all out.

And then, I made a list of what’s in them, and stuck the list to the side with a cute magnet.

For example, I had 4 bags of leftover turkey breast from Thanksgiving. So I wrote: Turkey Breast 4 3 2 1. Then, I just cross out the 4 when I grab a bag of it to use, so that I know there are 3 left.

this was taken a while ago, so more has already been used! it's one of those things that makes me wonder why i didn't ever do this before now.

this was taken a while ago, so more has already been used! it’s one of those things that makes me wonder why i didn’t ever do this before now.

It is SO NICE when I menu plan to look at the list and build meals from there. It’s also really nice when I don’t menu plan, and can look at the list and find something quick.

this is the list of what's in the chest freezer and top freezer.

this is the list of what’s in the chest freezer and top freezer.

In short: I’d highly recommend taking an hour to do this. Totally worth it.

Now, here are 3 areas that look horrible, to balance out that win:

just keepin' it real.

just keepin’ it real.

i blame this mostly on the kids.  they come in here and take random stuff out and then don't put it back the right way.  hmm, i think i just realized who's going to be cleaning this area up.

i blame this mostly on the kids. they come in here and take random stuff out and then don’t put it back the right way. hmm, i think i just realized who’s going to be cleaning this area up.

stuff from the last picture regularly finds its way out here to this fort/tent city area that the boys are constantly  building and rebuilding.  honestly, i don't even care anymore that this part of the house is a disaster. until we have company over.

stuff from the last picture regularly finds its way out here to this fort/tent city area that the boys are constantly building and rebuilding. honestly, i don’t even care anymore that this part of the house is a disaster. until we have company over.

Sigh.

Back to another success. Now that the boys are wearing close to the same size in many of their clothes, keeping them straight is difficult. Particularly boxers and t-shirts, but also things that have just been handed down (and therefore I can’t remember where it’s supposed to go now). The conversation usually goes like this:

Me: Luke, those pants are way too short. This is your last day wearing them.

Luke: Ok.

Me, 4 days later, sorting clean laundry: Ok for real. Who wears these pants now?

It’s annoying. And things end up in drawers where they don’t belong, thus they don’t get worn. Putting initials on the tags won’t work unless I want to cross things out. So, I came up with another plan.

Dots. 1 dot for Luke. 2 for Bennett. 3 for Jack Henry.

this cardinals shirt is jack henry's...probably passed down since luke, since it'a molina one.

this cardinals shirt is jack henry’s…probably passed down since luke, since it’a molina one.

It’s fail-proof. And, everyone in the family understands the simplicity of the system, so everyone can help sort clean, folded laundry.

It only took me forever to figure this out, but there are still lots of years with all 3 boys in this house and the opportunity to accidentally switch up their clothes, so better late than never, right?

What’s working for you? Or commiserate with me on the areas I’ve let go. Please share!

Little Bits

None of these necessitate a post of their own, but they are all little tidbits of daily life around here that I want recorded.

-Whether the team is good or bad, the boys never miss an Illini basketball game. Game time looks like this around here:

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last week’s fireside pizza picnic at game time

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sunday afternoon game

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littlest illini fan likes to have something else to do during the game, but still be in the same room as everyone.

I love it. I love that they’ll always share this bond and memory of their childhood. And that Matt is always alongside them for this.

- Bennett and Jack Henry have long had an oil-and-water relationship for the most part. There are glimpses of happy moments like this one…

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b can be such a sweet and kind teacher/helper.

…but usually, they’re bickering or picking at each other. Like any time they’re together.

They’ve been sharing a room for 18 months now, and surprisingly, there really aren’t any problems with this arrangement. In fact, bedtime is the one time of day that they seem to actually like each other. Almost every night for the past month now, there is a lot of giggling and whispering coming from their room at bedtime.

I’ve admitted on here before that I am not a patient person when bedtime rolls around. Usually, I’m feeling very much like I just want them to go to bed, so that I can have a little bit of quiet before I want to go to bed (yes, that’s selfish. But it’s also true, which is why I’m saying it.).

Lately though, I’ve fought the urge to shush them as they lay there laughing. It’s the only time of day they’re friends. Even though it kind of makes me crazy, I need them to like each other.

So, future Bennett and Jack Henry: I sincerely hope that this helped your relationship. Know that I decided that it’s worth the 15 minutes of lost sleep.

- I love weekends during our baseball off-season. They’re just so chill and fun and we get stuff done around the house. It’s fabulous. Of course, I love baseball season, too. But managing our calendar during that time just gets more than a little crazy.

I will need to see this in writing in April, when I’m wondering if some sense of calm will ever return to our house.

-I love our church. Being part of a community is so important.

Happy Sunday!

Spelling Bee: Results

After 8 days of prep, today was the big day. The spelling bee.

Luke and 17 other 3rd-5th graders got the chance to participate in the school-wide spelling bee this afternoon. I honestly had no idea what to expect in terms of how well he would do. I mean, he studied his butt off this past week…he couldn’t have done much more in terms of being prepared. But I just didn’t know how he’d cope under pressure, how the other kids would do, etc.

It went so, so much better than I ever could’ve expected!

Matt’s mom and dad joined me for the day, which was so fun. I was really glad they were in the audience with me. When we got there, I could tell Luke was nervous, but he seemed ok.

The first round consisted of very simple words, almost a warm-up for the kids. Over the next couple of rounds, only a few kids misspelled their words, but by round 6, it was down to 7.

4 kids were left by round 8. Including Luke. This was about the time I felt like I may be developing an ulcer.

Round 9. 3 kids. And this is where Luke made an error. On the word isochronous.

Yeah. No shame in losing on a word most people have never heard, right? :) We’d studied more than 3/4 of the list, and this was a word we didn’t get to. Oh well.

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so i hate the angle i had for pictures. we were the first ones there, and could’ve sat at the back of the room looking straight on at the kids. but, i thought, they’ll turn towards the audience to spell their words, and i’ll have a great side angle. nope. they looked at the judges. obviously. so this is the best i got.

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quick pic with nana jo and papa ron before they headed home!

Here’s the list of words he got today (minus one none of us can remember):
silly
globe
science
bountiful
courtier
bazooka
erstwhile
isochronous

I’ll finish this up with a little note to my boy.

Dear Luke,

I just want to tell you one more time how proud I am of you. Not just for finishing in the top 3 today; I would’ve been proud no matter what round you exited in. What I want you to know is that I’m so, so proud of the effort you put into studying for this.

And I hope that’s your take-away from this whole experience: evidence that working really hard towards a goal had a big payoff. No, you didn’t win. But I know that you did even better than you’d hoped. Plus, you and I ¬†(and the rest of our family) learned how to spell a lot of words as well as a lot of definitions to the words we just couldn’t resist knowing more about. ¬†Like mugwump. Or leonine.

If that’s what you can carry with you from this, I’ll be happy. That lesson, that hard work is worth it, especially as you enter middle school next year, will take you farther than any spelling bee victory ever would.

Love,
Mom

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.

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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)
Dressing
Croutons

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.

Spelling Bee: Prep.

Luke and Bennett took their district’s written spelling bee test on Monday. Luke found out today that he made it into the school-wide oral spelling bee, held next week (Bennett didn’t do too shabby on the pre-test, either; 17 of 25 words, which were the same for 3rd-5th graders. He needed a 21 to move on.).

Needless to say, Luke’s pretty excited!

He brought home the study guide, a list of 450 words of varying difficulty to study. We spent some time this afternoon going over part of the list, and when Matt got home, Luke asked him to quiz him on a row of words, too.

When I quizzed Luke earlier, on one of the words, he asked me for a definition. The word was “ailment.” I answered, “Illness.” He said ok, and spelled it correctly, telling me that he wanted to be sure it wasn’t something to do with beer, and therefore starting with “ale.”

1. It totally reminded me of a real spelling bee.
2. Our kid knows that ale is a type of beer, and that’s what his first thought was. Is this normal?

So when Matt started quizzing him, I retold the story of Luke asking for a definition. Which made Matt chuckle and say, “Yeah, do you want me to use that in a sentence?”

The word was “nigh.”

Matt’s sentence: “See if you can spell the word ‘nigh.'”

Clearly, he’s going to be really helpful with this process.

We’re working from the middle area of the sheet…here are some others as they get harder:
verdure
epizootic
dirndl
elegiac
revanche
importunate

So…yeah. I’m going to take this as seriously as Luke wants to, and wish him the best on Wednesday next week as he competes!