I need to be a DIY type of girl. I have so many friends who make EVERYTHING--from wheat flour to washtubs--themselves. I remember sitting in a MOPS meeting when I first moved to Montana, listening to women talk about how it was a difficult year for them because they had to buy flour at the store. I was happy to hear it, since I had been contemplating giving them that information myself. I truly thought they may not KNOW that you can buy flour at the store. Why ELSE would you make your own?!
Since that time, I actually had the experience of making flour, though just the one time. I DO know the benefits of doing most things yourself, only I am lucky to get out of bed on my own most days--I can't IMAGINE churning butter! Since I'm not sure what I have to offer in the way of crafts, these are some strategies I use(d) to help my children to eat healthier and to help keep myself relatively sane as a parent.
1. Always stock fuit and veggies in your freezer. I use frozen veggies to cool down hot soup and my kids LOVE it. They actually like to eat the veggies frozen, too...and I say, go for it! I use frozen berries in smoothies and they eat them plain or in yogurt, but the real reason I keep them stocked is so that I can cool down their oatmeal. This is the BEST oatmeal recipe I throw together in the morning:
Steel-cut oats (fill a bowl leaving room for yogurt or milk)
ground flax seed
frozen banana (thawed)or extra ripe banana
any frozen berries
milk or yogurt
I mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl and put it in the microwave for about four minutes. Yes, I know they are steel cut oats and they supposedly cannot be cooked in the microwave, but I do it almost every day and my kids LOVE it. I use any or all combinations on that list to make their oatmeal. Vanilla yogurt tastes the best in it, but if you use the banana (or any of the fruit, really), plain will work. I try to buy the greek yogurt (SOOO good for you and high in protein!) when I can, but considering I will have to sell a KIDNEY to afford it these days, store brand yogurt is fine.
2. Keep olives, chick peas, beans...anything easy and easy to eat with little hands in your cupboards. When my kids were in high chairs, I would crack open a few cans and dump them on their trays. They ate healthy and had fun doing it. We do "Olive Fingers" which I've found is frowned upon almost EVERYWHERE else, but it helped my kids to LOVE to eat olives. Of course, my Addie got in trouble by some other adult recently for playing with her food--oops! I quickly explained that I actually TAUGHT her to put olives on all of her fingers and wave them all around. Nice--I know! But to this day, al three of them LOVE olives. Coincidence? I think not!
3. Have them make their own meal. I did this ALL the time when my oldest was younger. I slacked a bit more with the other two and it is quite noticeable. Don't get me wrong--I have three great eaters, but the younger two are DEFINITELY more difficult than the first. And the YOUNGEST...well, SHE is my pickiest--probably because I stopped parenting once I had her. In my defense, I was tired. SOOOO VERY TIRED. Anyway, I used to give my son a plate with spinach, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers,sprouts, avocado, chicken, turkey--I would put different foods into different compatments on his plate, give hime a 100% whole wheat pita or bread and tell him to make his own sandwich. At two, he was making a sandwich Dagwood would have been proud to eat (if you don't know who Dagwood is, please don't tell me. I feel old.) and was choosing (and loving) healthy options.
4. Slip spinach and/or ground flax seed into practically EVERYTHING. These two "super" foods do not taste like anything. Really. They take on the flavor of whatever you par with them, so they can be mixed in smoothies, brownies, soups...whatever. Obviously you don't want to advertise that you are doing it, nor do you want the food to be green (no one likes green food--unless it's salad, but you know what I mean), so if you are making a smoothie for example, mix the spinach in first and add the berries until the color has no signs of green. There were a few green smoothies and popsicles we had to get through before I decided it would just be easier to hide it altogether.
There are so many things we all do each day that we assume others are doing as well--but we are wrong! We need to share EVERYTHING with others to make their lives easier! Number two (eew--don't be gross!) actually came from advice my sister gave me about going to dinner with a toddler. She said that if there isn't a salad bar, I should always ask for some olives or chickpeas, crackers or beans to give my toddler something to do while we wait for and eat our meal. BRILLIANT! I did it EVERY time we went out to eat and some people were SO VERY accomodating. Others, not so much, which helped me to assess their gratuity. I ALWAYS tip AT LEAST 20% as long as the person doesn't act like waiting on me is the worst thing that has EVER happened to him. I don't even care if mistakes are made--just don't act like it's MY fault. It's when my being there seems to be an inconvenience that I "SHOW THEM" and only tip 15%. I'm heartless, I know. I waited tables for years and what I lacked in...skill...ability...balance...I made up for in personality. Not to sound like an arrogant jerk (which I kind of did...), but I was always friendly and [tried to] acted as though my customers were doing me a favor by being there. I think of that when I ask if they have crackers or olives or something for my child. I also think about the fact that bringing those things won't just make it easier for ME...it will make THEIR job easier when they don't have a frazzled table with an irate toddler to deal with all night. Looking out for the greater good...
I may not be handy with a knitting needle, but I do have a few tricks up my sleeve for this parenting business. I don't know if ANY of it is helpful, but if you are sitting on something that you think everyone just knows to do, share it, because chancer are there is SOMEONE (like ME for instance!) who WANTS to know and is waiting for YOU to tell!
I am a former teacher/ SAHM of three who needed to do SOMETHING so that we would all come out of this alive and unscathed. I don't really have a blogging philosophy, though I have many THEORIES...for example, "In THEORY, it would be a great idea to get off of the computer and wash a dish..." yet here I sit. I have a THEORY that my musings may help people to see that they are not alone--or maybe they will just make ME realize that I AM alone...nah--I'm sticking with my first one. Better than therapy, I tell you!