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The Picky Eaters Parents Club

The Picky Eaters Parents Club – written by Bre Strobel.


“This isn’t what I want! I’m not eating it,” my five-year-old, Clarabelle, shouts as soon as her plate hits the table.

Rory, two, cries as he looks into his bowl of chicken tikka. He hates broccoli, I know, but I also know he loves the tikka masala sauce. It’s just been so long since we’ve made them eat what we were serving for dinner instead of their own separate meal.

“I hate our kids! I hate feeding them!” I scream at my husband as I walk back into the kitchen, “They’re going to go to bed hungry, and then they won’t sleep!” 

I slap food into our own bowls.

I can tell he’s ready to make them something else, but we both stop and remind each other of our goal: the kids will eat what we serve them. It’s three weeks into COVID-19 isolation, and we just bought and moved into a new house all at the same time. So we were in survival mode for a minute. And now we have a bit of undoing bad habits to address.

close up photography of a baby
Photo by Alexander Dummer on Pexels.com

When my daughter was 6 months old, she was failure-to-thrive, which means she was not only tiny for her age but had actually lost weight since her four-month checkup. It turned out she had silent infant reflux, a condition that causes the stomach acid to come back into the esophagus without the characteristic constant spitting up that normally indicates reflux in a baby. Which is why it took several months and weight loss (and many sleepless nights, and hours of crying per day) to get a diagnosis. A month later, I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety, which probably comes as no surprise.

All this to say, from the beginning, feeding my daughter was a stressful affair. As we introduced solids she was put on a proton-pump inhibitor to stop her stomach from producing acid. We had a strict no-sugar policy, which was bent immediately on finding that ppi medication tastes like baking soda and therefore needs a sweet syrup in order for a baby to acquiesce to consuming it.

As my daughter grew, as much as we had planned to do baby-led-weaning and only give her the healthiest foods, feeding times became a lot more about ensuring she would learn to enjoy eating, period. They were also about fattening up her tiny body, so we had to lean on purees fortified with fatty oils. 

Ingesting anything had become such a painful transaction for her, we had to be careful not to give her food that would upset her stomach or push things that she didn’t like, just to make sure she would in fact eat. 

Her weight issues only fueled my anxiety, and on more than one occasion food ended up on the wall and floor by my own hand. I distinctly remember pinto beans flying everywhere as the plastic plate I had thrown hit the wall. Clarabelle, 18 months at the time, was less concerned about my anger outburst, satisfied to know she wouldn’t have to eat that food.

As my daughter phased out of her medication and entered toddlerhood, I needed another way.

After a recommendation from a stranger in a mom group, I started following Janet Lansbury on Facebook. She posted something on trusting even the smallest kids with their eating by “keeping it breezy.” This method was supposed to encourage a positive food association and allow for bodily autonomy. By not placing a burden of “eating everything on your plate,” kids were trusted to fill their bellies only to their capacity and no more, encouraging food-regulation and portion control before it needed to become a bigger discussion.

And isn’t that what we all want for our children?

So my husband, Garth, and I took a new approach to feeding our toddler. We decided we would start feeding her what we were eating more often, and that when she didn’t want to eat it, we would stay calm and say, “Ok, I can see this isn’t what you wanted. I know that if you are hungry you will eat it.”

The key was to communicate that there is nothing else if she decided not to eat what was served.

Sometimes we’d find that she really didn’t like what we had offered. But we also noticed that sometimes, she’d just have an idea in her head of what we were going to have that night and wouldn’t eat what we served even if it was something she liked. And other times she was simply feeling oppositional and asserting her will. Where I had once thought that my job as a mom was to out-stubborn her in my own stubbornness, I was learning that really what I needed was consistency in my response. 

The more I worried about her weight gain or thriving, I’d find myself begrudgingly make her Mac-n-Cheese or Spaghetti O’s just to make sure she would eat. And the more I gave in to my anxiety and desire to keep things easy, the more often she would assert her will, the harder it was for us to get her to eat what we wanted her to eat instead of what her toddler palette wanted. So it was important for us to stick to our boundaries. And every time we figured out our boundaries and got consistent with them, we would find peace.

The babies, they don’t actually want control. They don’t know what to do with it.

“I know it’s not what you want, but it’s what we’re having tonight. I know you’ll eat it if you’re hungry,” became our nightly mantra. Some nights it worked right away, and sometimes it took half an hour of pouting and tears before she would take even one bite, but we weren’t budging. And we found through this method that she likes roasted broccoli, Indian spices like curry and garam masala, and that she prefers raw green bell peppers over fried.

We even found a trick for serving desserts. Growing up, Garth and I both had to eat the food on our plates before we could have dessert. The problem with that is, if you’ve served your child more than their capacity for the night, you’re teaching them to overstuff themselves. 

With Clarabelle, we noticed she wouldn’t eat anything on her plate if she knew dessert was coming. While we didn’t want to fuel a need for instant gratification, we also wanted to teach her to delay gratification herself. Or else, what, always keep dessert a secret, even at events? That seemed like a much harder tactic. So we started putting dessert on her plate when it was available, telling her that when she finished it, she wasn’t getting more. We’d even offer that she could eat it first or last, but that it’s all she was getting. And if she needed more food in the end, it was not going to be more dessert.

By her fifth birthday, we noticed she was saving her dessert for after she was done eating her meal. Her brother, who had just turned two, was upset when he noticed his sister’s cake after finishing his own.

“Ah, you ate all your cake, and she’s saving hers for after she’s done eating,” we said.

And that decision, waiting until she was satisfied with her dinner before moving on to dessert, was exactly the result we had waited for. 

girl in yellow shirt holding brown cake
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

When we visit family or have some sort of big change, like when we bought our house this spring, we find ourselves bending the rules while we operate in survival mode. Our parents don’t always trust that if you don’t make the kids exactly what they want, they’ll still eat. And sometimes, even when we’ve been consistent, the kids still need to assert their power. Seeing as they get three solid meals and two snacks each day, we know that if they miss one meal they won’t starve. So if they really dig in their heels, as unpleasant as it is, we prove to them that their power only lies in how much they fill their bellies with what’s offered and not over choosing what we serve.

Another benefit is that as they grow, they’re learning to try new things. They’re learning that it’s ok to eat something you don’t like to eat, because it’s beneficial to your body whether you enjoy it or not. And I can’t think of a healthier way to build their autonomy and positive food experience than letting them be unafraid to try new things, even if they end up not liking it.

When we hold our boundary, even after messing up for awhile, the kids will eat if they’re hungry.

They might learn that they like mango. And maybe even salmon.

And after half an hour of crying and screaming (maybe some from Mom too), they might stick a rebel finger in the tikka masala sauce and lick it. And upon tasting the sauce, they might finish their broccoli. Though the quinoa goes largely untouched, they don’t go to bed hungry after all.

Categories
Faith Guest Bloggers

Priscilla The Pi$$ed: Musings of a SALTY mama.

The world is weird. No way around it. And sometimes, okay – a lot of times – we start to feel a little bit salty about the cards were being dealt. We feel like God is doing this TO US. And IT HURTS. And it is HARD. Any time our routine is all messed up we feel anxiety and stress that can send us on this insane emotional rollercoaster.

Well, we have a wonderful guest blogger today from the Arctic Tundra near the Great Lakes who has just about had it with all this nonsense. One week in and Priscilla is OVER. IT. So she is going to share some of her saltiest musings with us. You’re not alone in this, friends. Be sure to read all the way to the end for some extra encouragement.


1) TWO TO FOUR INCHES OF SNOW ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! SOMEONE TAKE THE REMOTE CONTROL AWAY FROM JESUS. God, put down the g+t and go reign in your kid. Why aren’t you watching him?! Oh, it was the Holy Spirit’s turn? Umhmm. We all know he tends to get a little wild. 

2) I’d just like to state for the record – I see what you did there, Jesus, having me give up alcohol and gluten for Lent. Well played, I’m not about it, and you’re being rude. Feeling extra salty at you. And I’m going to bake every day. So I am EXPECTING you to carry the burden of all those calories miraculously disappearing from my hips. Just so we are clear. Good. Glad we got that straight. Amen. 

3) All I can say is, I’m glad you’re strong, bc I’ve got a lot of crap for you to carry. Maybe bring your anti-hernia belt with today …. Ya know, just in case. And no need to bother with the reading glasses, I’ll be navigating today’s session, tyvm. But just in case …. Can you bring your healing powers too? You know … Just on the off chance I stub my toe or lead us off the edge of a cliff or something … It’s unlikely, but this whole being a mom business has taught me the wisdom of the purse-sized first aid kit.

Quote from Bob Goff

4) Listen, I understand that you’re literally so big that 10,000 years is like 1 day to you. But Jonah was only in that whale for like 72 hours, tops. So let’s shake a leg. 

5) If you would just stop shushing me and listen for one minute, I think I have a brilliant plan! Yes I KNOW that’s the same thing Peter said, but he was a guy – no offense – so you already know it’ll be an improvement over that.

6) Let’s talk about this whole 40 days in the wilderness business. 8 weeks is WAY more than 40 days. Since Jesus didn’t have to do it, then this younger sibling shouldn’t have to either!!!! #babyofthefamily #igetwhatiwant 

7) I appreciate how strong you think I am … But that’s enough for a while. I’m taking a sabbatical. I’ll send you a postcard. It’ll be sort of the same thing.

8) I know you wanted to discuss my anxiety today, but I thought we could chat about your lack of follow-through on the suggestions I submitted for your review concerning my life plan? I do believe Eve may have brought this up with you as well, and we’re all just wondering if you’ve had time to review our constructive critiques yet? 

9) And what is WITH you scheduling this little party for AFTER Friends is no longer on Netflix?! 

10) “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭18:18‬

Scuuuuse me!!!! Which angel got tipsy on the communion wine and thought it would be funny to let Corona out, hummmmm? I hope you took their wings away for a few weeks.

11) Since you’re allowing me to be held hostage by my 2-year-old, here are my list of demands in order to continue being a good prisoner, ehrm, mom:

  1. Calories don’t count.
  2. Cheesecake becomes the most vital macronutrient to human existence.
  3. The weather sitch: the warmth of summer starting yesterday and the plants are in bloom like spring is their JOBBBBB. This will last for all of 2020 as penance. Don’t speak. Just listen.
  4. We get to have dinosaurs back. They’re all docile and vegan.
  5. Teachers get $1 million as their lifetime yearly salary. Social workers, nurses, grocery clerks, first responders, and all the others, too. You’re God, you know the list. 
  6. I will be whatever shape, size, and color I want from now on.
  7. “Get thee behind me, Satan” is the new official “Bless your heart.”
  8. Every child has unlimited food, shelter, and clothing needs met. Forever and ever amen.
  9. All foster kids find their forever families.
  10. I know what you’re thinking – shortlist. Don’t worry, I’ve suddenly found myself taking a lot of bathroom breaks. I’ll be back tomorrow.

I had a good laugh when Priscilla sent these my way. I can admit that a few of these have crossed my mind this week. It’s all too real right now. Maybe your list of salty musings doesn’t look quite like Priscilla’s – but you know what they are. You know what you’ve been stewing on and letting take over your thoughts this week. And it’s okay to be mad and confused about all of this.

But I can say without a shadow of a doubt, that GOD HAS GOT US. He knows what our struggles are and all you have to do is ask him to help you carry this load. He will bring you through. If you’ll allow me, I’d like to pray for all our inner Priscillas.

Father God,
I ask you to bring healing to our worn hearts and minds right now. Be with us through this really crappy time of forced isolation and fear. Father, I know that you have a plan for us in this – help me to trust YOUR PLAN because it is BETTER THAN MINE. Help me to find the joy in this seemingly unjoyful time. Help me to not lose my mind. Be my rock, my salvation. Cover my family with your grace and peace. FATHER, YOU ARE GOOD. I LOVE YOU. THANK YOU.
Oh, and PLEASE don’t let me run out of toilet paper.
Amen

Oh Boy, I don’t know about you but i CAN NOT WAIT to see what Priscilla has to say next week ;-D

Until Next Time,
Emily B.

Categories
Faith Guest Bloggers

Maybe

Today we have a special guest author - Katie Anderson.
I asked her to share a bit about what God has been teaching her in the last month about trusting him with her move to China. 

“There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically. “Maybe,” the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed. “Maybe,” replied the old man.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “Maybe,” answered the farmer.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. “Maybe,” said the farmer.”


I first heard this story about 15 years ago. My life has had more trauma and abuse in it than the average bear’s experience. To put it mildly, I’ve survived a lot of things. This parable came at a time when I was really wrestling with how to trust God, how to reconcile the God of the bible with the God of my circumstances, of my past.

This parable was a loud echo, a thunderclap on the mountainside of my heart, as I wrestled with God as my waymaker. You see, as humans, we are so very good at thinking. I would argue that it is one of the tenants by which humankind marks itself. Our ability to reason, to think, to rationalize.

But one of the downfalls (and hooo nanny, there are many) of our glorification of intellect is that it has convinced us we must judge EV.ER.Y.THING. That every thought, experience, encounter, action by ourselves and others must be analyzed, judged, and assigned value. Some conclusion must be drawn! Good, bad. Kind, evil. Scary, encouraging.

As humans, we also attempt to learn, to grow, to progress, by this analysis. And what do we so often learn? That the world is a scary place. That people cannot be trusted. That bad things are inevitable. And that leads us to either feel hopeless or to feel defensive. 

However, the truth is that Jesus came, he lived, he died, he rose again! And he is coming back to establish his kingdom here on earth. Our world is in the middle of being remade, but the remodel hasn’t yet been finished. And so, rather than allowing God to speak to our circumstances, we settle into the ancient lie that our circumstances define our God. Rather than trusting the omnipotent creator of everything, we allow our circumstances to breed mistrust.

Just as Eve was cowed by the serpent in the garden, so our present-day snakes wind themselves around our ankles and trip up our souls. “If God allowed this, he must not love you. If God doesn’t love you, then you can’t count on him to take care of you. If you can’t count on him to take care of you, who will? BAD THINGS ARE GOING TO KEEP HAPPENING!”

BUT.

1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

In. ALL. Circumstances. In all circumstances, what? Give thanks. 

Romans 8 tells us that we are more than conquerors in Christ and that God works ALL THINGS for our good.

Romans 5: 3-5 says, “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

What does this tell me? First, God is on my side. Always. Full stop.

Second, I can trust God, I can put my hope in God. God will not leave me high and dry, my hope in God will not be disappointed, not be proven folly. God will never embarrass, disappoint, or desert me. God always comes through for me.

Third, every single heartache, every single trauma, every single abuse, every single season of grieving, poverty, humility, oppression, pain, sickness – all suffering – God will turn around and use to bless us – because he loves us. God will redeem the living sacrifice that is my existence on this earth.

Some of that redemption I will get to see come about here on earth. So much of it, I will not understand until Jesus welcomes me home. I can accept that, albeit at times in halting, stumbling steps when I rest on God’s promises to me.

I’m walking through it right now. I’ve been praying to move out of the States for over a decade. I studied abroad in Australia in 2008 for 6 months. It’s a 30 hour trip back to Minnesota and I cried the entire 30 hours back.

The enneagram 8 version of me probably would have only gotten on that plane bound and gagged. But I am a 6, so the thought of being hauled off to jail and trapped in a cell for violating my student visa was too much for me to fight.

Seeing my dad’s face when I walked off the plane in Duluth was one of the most painful moments of my life, knowing that seeing him represented the final nail in the coffin of my freedom of living abroad. And I am the quintessential daddy’s girl, so friends, that’s saying a lot.

In the past 11 years and 10 months since I moved to Australia, I have prayed constantly that God would allow me to live abroad permanently. In those years, some of the best moments of my life have happened. I went to Sweden and France; I completed my master’s degree, I got married, bought a house, and had my son. Incidentally, every hope and fear I have had for my life has been realized in the past decade. And yet still, I hoped.


On January 2nd, my husband, two-year-old toddler tornado, and I got on a plane bound for the People’s Republic of China. The answer to my second longest-standing prayer had been answered. I was feeling a bit salty about the stupid caveat that we had to come back to the States for 3 weeks due to some (I thought arbitrary) reasons given by my husband’s employer. Actually, I still think their reasons are stupid and I still feel a bit salty about it.

But guess what? A couple of days after we landed Stateside again, the panic with coronavirus exploded. Life in the city in which we live, thanks to the Chinese government’s collectivist values, has come to a near halt, in order to fight against the highly contagious illness.

Banks are temporarily closing, all restaurants, schools, parks, and public spaces are banned from operating. All residents must wear masks every moment they step out of their personal living quarters and gathering in groups is strongly discouraged altogether. There are water and food shortages. Riots are starting to take place. 

The US has since banned travel to China and even executed emergency evacuations from China of US citizens. All major airlines have canceled services to and from China, and as I write this, my family is currently banned from at least two countries due to asymptomatic contagion risks. 

I am absolutely devastated by this. My heart breaks for the country, the people, that we have chosen to call our home. And I loathe being back in the States again. For reasons better left to share another day, I feel as though I escaped hell only to be captured and thrown back into the pit yet again.

And yet, maybe. Maybe God is working all things for my good. Maybe I don’t have to have this all figured out. Maybe God’s short, albeit painful, delay in fulfilling my prayer, my hope, is because he sees from his vantage that which I am too small to comprehend.   

I can trust God in this, too. I can trust God with me.

As a friend once wisely said in the midst of her own trauma, “I can’t wait to see how God uses this to embarrass Satan.”

You can follow Katie and her adventures on Instagram : lakekat. 
If you are interested in either hearing more from Katie or would like to contribute a story of your own, let me know either in the comments or by emailing me - [email protected] .

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