Let’s get your Butterfly to eat! Join me.

I drove Thing 2 to an all-day, picnic-style birthday party in a pavilion at our local city park. Perfect weather, crisp warm end-of-summer air, tall trees, and happy noises from other picnic table pavilions.  Bliss.

While a small cadre of tween girls ran through the playground from swing to swing to slide to climber to carousel

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Kids won’t eat any of this?  Tune in for help! Click HERE to register.

….one mom watched her lithe, sinewy butterfly of a girl and said wistfully: I hope she eats.

I wanted to curl my arm around her and bring her peace.

I’m inviting you.

Click to tweet:twitter-128 Bring me your sinewy butterflies, your picky little birds, your thoughtful dreamers with no interest in food… come, let’s build peace of mind.

This free talk is focused on you, mom.  And your picky eater.

I’m a cultural educator and a coach for moms — and I want you to know about my webinar on Parenting Picky Eaters. Sign up for my in-depth webinar  about picky eating here and learn the phrase that stops family dinner fights in their tracks.

If we think about families as microcultures, then we can see that we have some influence over this little culture’s language, entertainment, worship, and… food, on my talk, I’ll discuss incorporating food as part of your family culture, whatever your style.

And, on the  webinar you will learn the four words that are setting you up for failure.  Food struggle is awful.  Let’s find some comfortable ways to feed those pesky picky eaters.

I have very strong feelings about moms of picky eaters.  We live in a modern age where it’s actually a chore to shop for healthy foods if you happen to wander out of the produce department. And there’s momguilt.  There’s lots of momguilt, charging we need to take responsibility for diabetes, behaviors and socializing, and even health of the future.  It’s the perfect storm, babe. So join me Thursday or Sunday evening for some guilt-squashing.  Just sign up here.  It’s free!

 

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Picky Eater at the Library Party

Academic library folk can party!  Every year we went to a swank restaurant owned by an Italian celebrity chef.  My former micropreemie, now toddling, came to work with me a couple of days a week and was also invited.

It was a pasta restaurant, his favorite! Yummy comfort foods — what’s not to love?

There was a much-anticipated $5 gift swap, wine, and small talk.  A little more wine.  Appetizers.  Then we picked from a special menu pulled together just for us — a trio of extremely lovely highbrow pastas. Gnocchi with duck; garganelli with Prosciutto, peas, and cream; ravioli with wild boar and rosemary.

Fudgey, creamy, or spicy.  Uh oh.

Luckily, I had backup.

I found our waiter and, with big smiles and nodding my head, made my request.  My cheeks felt flushed. Again.  I sat at the big round six-top with Peanut on my lap.

WillNotEatClick

Click here to receive three quick videos with tips for your picky eater.

I ate; he didn’t.

CLICK to tweet:  If you have a sensory or food-averse kid, you know — you cannot wait them out.   They’d rather not eat.  At the six-top, my coworkers noticed, looked worried, asked if he was feeling okay.  I was still smiling wide, nodding, and now sweating, too.  And still flushed.

If you have a picky kid, you’ve probably stuck food in your purse a time or a hundred.

Finally the waiter came out with my secret weapon — purse nuggets!  In those days purse nuggets were my constant companion; just throw them in frozen and by lunch they’re ready to heat up.

He’s still picky at 13, but it’s okay. In the decade since then, I’ve worked out a system and he’s come a long way.  He’s no longer underweight and I don’t fret about his diet.

Purse nuggets got us through some scary times, and I am grateful to the nugget inventors of the world.  But shifting to a deliberate family culture around food has changed everything.  He’s become curious and he even eats outside his comfort zone — and points it out, haha.

If you want tips for building food curiosity in your picky kid, click the link above to get 3 quick videos sent right to your inbox.  And stay tuned, I have a webinar coming up in May that will help you ditch those purse nuggets forever!

If you can’t wait another day, check out my Parenting Picky Eaters program.  And as always, follow along the antics in the fun house on Facebook.

Purse nuggets be gone!

Burning up: shame about my picky eater.

Her turquoise eyes were snapping!

She looked me right in the eye, inches from my face.

“Well then, what WILL he eat?”

My face burned.

My beloved stepmom is a locally renown cook; she’d been feeding my two man-nephews for ten years while they tried to eat the entire town out of house and home.  It’s her joy, her gift, and her bragging right.  She is a great cook.

“Chicken nuggets.”

She did not blink. Flinch. Or show any emotion.

I felt ashamed.  The burning increased.

If you have a picky eater, a sensory kid, or a food-averse child, you know that burning feeling.  We’ve lived it more than once, and you have, too.

I felt accused and worried that someone might think less of my wee child.

Food in general left me feeling like a failed mom and  even more protective of my picky eater out in the world — even as I negotiated my own frustration about that pickiness.

I was an older mom.  The generation before me had their answers: wait them out, don’t give in.  The generation after me had their answers: let them graze, give them multiple clean choices.  Neither paradigm felt right for us.  My kid had been intubated at birth; my kid had a couple of diagnoses; my kid was an awesome miracle.  My kid was picky.  And still is. But we have a working system around it.

WillNotEatClickClick here for three quick video tips on picky kids — delivered to your inbox.

A recent article in the Boston Globe did a great job pondering if picky eaters are made or born.  Kids, with too much power, with new diagnoses, with more serotonin receptors in their guts than their brains.  Parents, not wanting or affording to waste food, not wanting to struggle in the little time available to families, told by pediatricians as long as the kid eats, it’s ok.

I believe picky eating is normal.  Extreme picky eating seems to be on its way to the new normal — for too many diverse reasons to simply choose one.  Having control over something in a quickly whirling world, so many delicious available choices, so many processed foods, so many sensory diagnoses, so many anxious parents, so much judgment.  There’s biology at play, as well as: family dynamics, working conditions, money, those serotonin receptors, time, wellness and its lack.  It is historically emerging.

I believe it doesn’t matter why.  Moms in the trenches need a plan and they need it now.  We can’t wait for researchers to figure out why picky eaters are on the rise.  I have a plan to share, and you can get a taste of it (ha!) by clicking the photo above for 3 free video tips of low-key ways to expose your kids to new foods.

My Parenting Picky Eaters program builds a family culture of curiosity around food.  It helps you track what your kid actually eats — it’s almost never as bad as it feels.  It’ll give you tricks for sneaking in the good food while you simultaneously expose your kids to new foods and ignite their curiosity about food. You’ll learn the four words that hijack dinner and add some new terms to the conversation.  Family traditions, teamwork, and a bonus book-and-movie list round things out.

As always, pop on over to Funnermother on Facebook to see what else we’re up to in the Fun house!

Sensitive, Picky Eaters? Listen in as I’m interviewed on this very topic!

Listen in tonight at 7 as I discuss with Donna Ashton my signature system for building food curiosity into your family culture.  Learn the four words that are derailing family dinners.

Donna is the founder of The Waldorf Connection, where parents can get support giving their children an education of art, music, and movement.  Donna is a champion of home-schooling ease and a mentor for family-first home-based businesses.
My talk is free, so just click here to jump on the call.

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Radiolab Changed My Parenting

Thing 1 had a short playdate on the far side of the city that disallowed driving all the way home & back. I LOVE it when this happens. I’m a high-strung mom from Puritan stock… being idle wreaks havoc on my nerves.  But when gently forced to pause, I adore it.  Waiting rooms, city buses, friends who never show up.  Love!  So I sat in a parking lot listening to public radio and crocheting. Bliss.

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Click the image to purchase this from graybearstudio.

I listened to Radiolab’s “Sound as Touch.”  I learned of Anne Fernald’s findings that there are a set of common tunes within the words that parents all over the world speak to their babies. Across cultures, parents sound the same.  “Sound is touch at a distance.”  I learned about the 1913 riots during the first performance of Stravinsky’s Rites of Spring when brains could not make sense of the unfamiliar dissonance. And about the mechanics of how the brain understands sound.

Waves of vibrating air start compressed in your voice box, then upon iteration they travel through time and space into my ear, through a little tunnel — they vibrate a few very small bones, which in turn transmit the vibration into this salty sea where fluid literally bends little hairs to make sound, and then charged molecules rush into the brain.  “Sound is touch at a distance.” Dissonance (unpleasant sound) has chemical consequences – neurons revolt and dopamine is released into the brain.  Extreme dopamine release is one symptom of schizophrenia, and at lesser levels would have instigated the Stravinsky riots.

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Click the image to purchase this from Rundtom.

You see where I’m going as I circle back to parenting… But for me it was huge. I yell. It’s not my primary parenting tool, but I do.  And I had a theory that to withstand big emotions would be a good skill that I wish I’d had. But whoa. A stranger’s dissonance can drive a group of people to riot, we know.  When that dissonance is ratcheted up, what happens?  When it is one-on-one?  Coming from the person you love most, your life source? And then, what if you have sensory processing disorder, which one or both of my kids do?  Yes, there is a science behind why shouting at someone feels like an assault. It is. Sound is touch at a distance.

So I have joined an online group of moms who are all trying to stop yelling, and I have slowed down our nightly read-aloud time to bathe them in my gentle voice.  I try to look my children in the eye, look at the color of their eyes (he has dad’s, she has mine), at their souls.  I look for my triggers — and they are often sound!  I am overwhelmed by repetitive, jarring, or loud sounds.  As are my kids. Sigh. I am also humbled by the Radiolab story enough to share it with you, to hope that we can speak with kindness more often. To keep up with my progress, sign up for my weekly-ish Ezine over at Funnermother.com.

Listen to Sound As Touch and see what you think.  Then drop me a line on Facebook.

What’s your happy place?

Happy place

Happy Place from ArtPeaceCreation – Funnermother.com

This spring is about self-care in our family.  The ‘for sale’ sign in the front yard, packed boxes sprinkled around, and the punctuation of routine with frenzied clean-ups for potential buyers has put strains on all of us.

Obvious and subterranean strains.

A few months ago, we started meditating at bedtime.  We spent a week thinking about our happy places, imagining what they’d be like.

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Happy Place from Fairyland2000 – Funnermother.com

I admit, that was inspired by a pinterest board of “reading nooks” and I think we all do have books in our happy places.  If  you follow Funnermother on facebook, you know the kids’ mortifying addition to their happy places that left this leftie mom chagrined (happy servants to bring them happy snacks and clean the happy cat boxes!).

But we pushed on, and the happy place has become part of our nightly meditation.  It will eventually follow us to our new home, and it is always available if needed in the daytime.

Happy place

Happy place by HappyThursdayArt – Funnermother.com

And you know what?

My legendary insomnia is not as severe, and the boy has stopped asking the old standard bedtime question, “Can you help me think happy thoughts?”

He can do it himself!  Ah, resilience.

Do you have a happy place?

Whether it’s the wide ocean, a cozy cottage in the woods, a treehouse, lighthouse, or tiny house, whether you want sun or candlelight or cats or tea or coffee, you need a happy place, and I’m sprinkling a few into this post.

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Hammock from PrincipalStress – Funnermother.com

Just click on one and you can purchase a print on Etsy, a handmade broker.

Or commit it to memory.

You deserve a happy place. Or two.

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Photo backdrop from PeekPrints – Funnermother.com

Other posts on sensory processing include:

Here, Feel This Fruit

Freestyle Recycling

DIY: Birthday Jarlights

DIY

Birthday Jarlights
Funnermother.com

You’ll need:  clean clear jars for everyone, poster paint, white glue, paintbrushes, shiny star stickers, colored paper and a tea light for each jar.  For younger kids, battery operated.  

Mix poster paint and glue to make the paint adhere to smooth surfaces like glass and plastic – about 1/3 glue and 2/3 paint.  

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Birthday Jarlights
Funnermother.com

Cut out football shapes to serve as lit candle wicks, glue them around the jar.

 

 

 

Paint over the shapes, then glue ‘candlesticks’  to the jar.  I used some flashy origami paper, but plain construction paper would work, too.

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Birthday Jarlights
Funnermother.com

Peel the football shapes off while the paint is still a little wet, then allow paint to dry.

 

Then, and this is my favorite part, put in a battery-operated tea light!

My crafters were 6 and used glass with close supervision; younger kids should use plastic but the paint/glue combo should work just as well.

 

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Birthday Jarlights
Funnermother.com

 

This craft could be adapted for older kids, who could paint more elaborate scenes, more layers of paint, and use real tea lights.

We’ve done this for Halloween, Christmas/New Year, and birthdays.

DIY

Jarlights
Funnermother.com

Even the tiniest kids can paint a jar and the light will still shine through.

 

If you give jar painting a try, I’d love to see the results, just post them on Funnermother’s Facebook page!

DIY: Building a heart light

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Turn on your heart light!
Funnermother.com

Running mate works weekend nights, and I am not a good single parent.  One bedtime, I could feel it.  You know, increased bickering, picking at each other, elevated kinetic energy, swirling vapors and mom getting flustered.

An idea like a lightning strike! Outgrown tights!  I cut off the legs, filled them with old old dried beans — one got lentils, one got pinto — and tied a knot.

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Warming the heart light.
Funnermother.com

Then, a minute in the microwave.

Then, magic!

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Apply the heart light.
Funnermother.com

One kid is a seeker, and laughs and jumps and kicks and fools around until the instant she falls asleep.  The other is more pondering, more of a worrier, but still can be revved up to a frothy sibling rivalry.

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Weight.
Funnermother.com

The “heart light” works for them both, centering and heating, weighting and calming.  I suppose I could sew buttons on for eyes, but it’s working as it is.

This very flexible DIY project would work well tucked into a sweatshirt or coat hood, or as two smaller ‘heart lights’ tucked into coat or hoodie pockets.  It also could be popped in the freezer and used for headaches or booboos.

I hope I get a turn with it soon.

More posts on sensory play include: Here, Feel This Fruit

Clever Pumpkin Pie

I’m not lazy, I’m clever!

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Clever Pumpkin Pie – Funnermother.com

Ha ha, I think cooking should be easy and good for you, like low-impact aerobics.

I love crockpot and roast-in-a-bag meals, and now I’ll share my secret labor-lite pumpkin pie recipe.  It is a very forgiving recipe!

Pumpkin pie

Clever Pumpkin Pie – Funnermother.com

Bake the pumpkin in the oven.  No, there’s no  reason to gut, peel, dice, and boil the pumpkin.

Bake it. The seeds will become scoopable, the pumpkin flesh will fall away from the peel.

Pumpkin pie

Clever Pumpkin Pie – Funnermother.com

Dump into a blender:

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup pumpkin

3 eggs

1 small can of evaporated milk

ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg to taste.

Pour into a pie crust (learning to make my own will be my new year’s resolution). Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 until a knife comes out clean (ca. 40 minutes).

Easy Pumpkin Pie

Clever Pumpkin Pie – Funnermother.com

This recipe makes a light custard-like pie.  Top it with toasted nuts or frozen yogurt to keep it on the healthy side.  for a gluten-free option cook the filling in ramekins or glass baking pans as a pudding or flan.

This is a delicious way to have a dessert with protein and vegetables in it.  We also eat it for breakfast! If I make it often (ahem, it’s harvest time), I change up the spices or drizzle it with homemade caramel or chocolate.  If you try it, tell me in the comments what you did to mix it up!

Sensory play in the kitchen

Thing 1 was a micropreemie. We were ON ALERT and it was the very least of our worries when he was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder and Sensory Integration Disfunction (I don’t remember in what order).  Ten years later, he still has a hair-trigger gag reflex and is particular about ripe fruit, chewy meat, the feel of his blankets, clothes, and dirty hands.

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Sensory play in the kitchen – Funnermother

cooking with kids

Sensory play in the kitchen – FunnermotherHere you see instant oatmeal, sunflower seeds, cheerios, maple syrup, oil, and… yes… mini chocolate chip cookies.

He likes to have control over his sensory play, and is drawn to the kitchen and actually making his culinary ideas.  Here we are making the granola recipe in his head.

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Sensory play in the kitchen – Funnermother

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Sensory play in the kitchen – Funnermother

Here you see instant oatmeal, sunflower seeds, cheerios, maple syrup, oil, and… yes… mini chocolate chip cookies.

He can be hesitant. His culinary dreams often have multiple layers of sweets, so between my ‘no sweets’ position and his hesitation we have room to negotiate. 🙂

I like to give total control, and then have a sudden ‘Just put in a handful’ or a quick ‘here, hold this’ moment.  Not enough time to hesitate.

For my kid, that works.

You can see he doesn’t want to touch the sticky granola.

But he did.  A little.

More important, for me, is that he saw how the separate ingredients looked and tasted on their own, how they looked and smelled being stirred and cooked…

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Sensory play in the kitchen – Funnermother

and tasted!

I’d call this a great afternoon of gross and fine motor practice, imagination, planning, process, results, and sensory exploration!

Do you sneak in sensory experiences?  Please leave a comment telling us how.

Other posts on sensory play include:

Here, Feel This Fruit

Recycle Freestyle