Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Family Food Fights

...And I don't mean tossing meatballs at each other!  Take a minute and try to honestly answer these questions:

*Is mealtime in your household stressful?
*Do you ever find yourself coaxing and bribing your child to just 'take one bite'?
*Did you take the time to prepare a meal for your family only to find your hopes of sitting down with smiling faces shattered by crying, refusal to eat and an overall unhappy experience?
*Do you find yourself having mixed emotions on where to draw the line with what goes on the plate, in the mouth or how much control you should have over your child's meal/intake?
*Does the frustration extend beyond your child?  Are you and your spouse/significant other arguing over what the right or wrong approach is with your child?
*Does this tension cause dread and stress for the entire family?

If you answered No to these questions then congratulations, you have escaped an experience that many of us have not been able to avoid at one point or another!  If you said "yes" to many of these questions then I promise are not alone!  Am I right?  I think we all struggle with finding that middle ground with our responsibilities and expectations.  Being on the same page with our spouse is a feat within itself.  Being on the same page with extended family members and close friends is also a stressor for many.  In fact I am sure many of you reading this have heard "He will eat when he is hungry", "Just tell them they can't have that cupcake if they don't try a green bean", or "Take them to time out" about as many times as you wish to hear.  Everyone wants to label your child with behavioral problems or as having an issue that lies within the responsibility of the parent.  But guess what?  That just isn't the case, is it?  I wish every one of my own family members could attend the conferences that I have attended, courses I completed in graduate school, read the books that I have read or seen firsthand what I have seen with working with many many families over the years.  Those families wish the same for everyone they know. 

What we want families and friends to know is something a little different than the disciplinary suggestions we have all been given.  We want to turn the Family Food Fight into the Fight for our Family.  Since attending courses and conferences and extensive reading is not an option for most then the least we can do for those who could benefit from a greater understanding of feeding development and making mealtimes less stressful is to let them know that you are seeking help and that you trust your resources and need others to trust this as well.  If I were one to care little about what my family and close friends felt then I would not be writing an article entitled "Family Food Fights"...but I do, I like to be understood and more importantly I like to get the message to others so they can follow suit when given the opportunity.  I have readers and families, including my household, in mind when I write this and I know many of you struggle with these very same issues. 

The Facts.  You  may have read this on a gerber pamphlet or from your local pediatrician but it takes at least 10 exposures of a new food before acceptance of that food.  Where do your expectations at mealtime lie?  Do you put a new food on a plate and expect your child to take a bite because YOU love squash casserole and simply can't imagine that anyone on Earth would refuse a bite?  Is your child thinking "You have GOT to be kidding me, that tablespoon of so called squash casserole looks like something my baby brother expelled an hour ago" it the sight of it, the smell of it, the texture?  Know your child.  Knowing your childs fears and aversions is very helpful in the eating process!  If your child already knows that you Expect them to take a bite of that casserole no matter what then you may be setting yourself and your child up for disappointment.  Children want to feel that they can accomplish something and they generally love the acknowledgement whether it be a smile of approval, verbal praise or some kind of reward they are working toward.  I feel that knowing your child's level of anxiety can be very helpful toward building their food repertoire.  You can of course push a little and change things up accordingly, but the point I am trying to make is that we sometimes have higher expectations for a child that may have heightened anxiety in those situations.  We can't forget to praise the small steps and use our positive language to talk about the food and not ask impossible things of them.  Today they may be o.k. with helping to put the squash in the food processor, but trying that little taste of the finished product may be months, or further, away.  It does not mean that we should give up on the challenges, but learn to back away when needed and push when you see an opportunity.  If you would like more information for yourself or for others please leave a comment or email me at as I have a few links that may be of interest to you or others. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

To my little girl

I found a special letter that I thought I had lost. I was not yet pregnant with Adalyn, but I found out that I was in November, soon after this letter was written. My little girl is growing up so quickly and she graduates from preschool this week. I wanted to type out the letter I had written to "Baby Starnes" so she can always go back and look at it whenever she wants. I love you Adalyn!

Baby Starnes,
You are not even here yet but I feel like you are coming to this world soon! Maybe its because of talking about it last October-November when David asked me if I was pregnant—he thought his dream meant that I would be pregnant or have a baby on Dad’s birthday in November—so I’ve been wondering if we’ll find that to be true next month. It may be now and it may be a year from now but your daddy and I are ready for you! You’re going to love it here with us—we have such a cool house (literally, its 54 degrees without heat right now :)) and live in a Really cool town. When you are big enough we will take you camping, but even when you are teeny tiny we will take you up in the mountains so you can start hiking early! You’ll like Max Patch in the Spring—there are flowers and butterflies and even if you are a little boy, those things are really beautiful to see! Your highchair will be beside the big bay window in the dining room and you will love to look out the window and watch the squirrels in the yard. We even have an “Asheville Pine!”..and your daddy cut the bottom limbs last week so you will be able to play underneath the limbs and be inside of the tree—it is very neat. I went under there when he was finished. It will make a cool fort or pretend house. Your room has the best sunlight—we are jealous! The walls in your room will be yellow so that you will always feel cozy and happy—and we’ll be right across the hall when you need us. There is a really pretty lake by the house and you will get to go on lots of trips around the lake trail. I’m hoping we can feed the ducks over there too. Our church is great—you will have some older friends to play with but you will probably be more advanced than them anyway!
You will get to be with your daddy and I at Wasabi, the Pizza Company and Barley’s and when you are old enough to eat big people food I’ll give you some Edamame and help you eat yummy sushi rolls! Lucky for you—the Pizza place has kid movies some afternoons. Your dad is really sweet and will be a great dad to have—he can even speak Donald Duck. Just a warning—he will want you to go hunting with him. I won’t like it but it is one of his favorite things to do so maybe you will be excited about it. You have some grandparents that live in Arkansas and some in Florida. So you will get to go to the beach and Disney World in Florida and to the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas. I could tell you All about Arkansas where I came from, but you will be living in North Carolina so I will tell you about the fun things here. We get snow in the Winter! You will think that cold white stuff is pretty cool—we’ll make snow cream too! Right now the leaves have gone from green to orange, yellow, and Red—it happens every fall! I’m sure you will ask lots of questions about why things happen and I’m sure your dad will have really good Answers! I hope you like the YMCA nursery because I’ll have to get some exercise while you play. There is a stroller club 2x a week though so we can meet other babies and parents while we walk! Oh! I almost forgot to tell you about the Biltmore Estate land—trust me, you will think its magical. There are BIG deer for your daddy and pretty trees, hills and flowers for me. One day we sat on a hill full of daisies and made flower halos and took pictures. I’ll show you how to make one—if you are a little boy and don’t want to wear one then I will wear it! I can’t wait til you get here! I have as many questions about you as you will have about me—are you going to be a boy or girl? What will you like to play with and will you like to eat different foods or be picky? Right now you will be named Adalyn if you are a girl and maybe Garrett or Tyler if you are a boy. I like Austin and McCage too. I wish you could help choose! Your Nana has already made you a blanket—I think. I can’t wait to pick out your crib bedding and your clothes! I hope you like the outdoors. We can go to the Botanical Gardens and go shopping downtown. There are some interesting characters down there! You can help me plant flowers and maybe we’ll even try to plant a tree in the spot where we had to cut one down. When I was little I liked to draw with sidewalk chalk so you’ll have to give that a try someday. Since you’ll probably take your first baths in the kitchen sink I will make sure to keep flowers there—we have what is called a garden window. You can see a giant White Oak tree from your “Bath Sink”. I’ll get you some good music to listen to. We have wind chimes here too. AND a fireplace which we will try out for the first time tonight. Your daddy and I are going to carve a pumpkin this weekend so the Trick or Treaters will come see us. I’m sure you will like Halloween. Clouds are cool. So are rainbows—there was one behind Ingles yesterday. Maybe you will be here by next Christmas! If so you can see all of our decorations and be here when we put up the tree. Don’t be allergic to Real trees, ok? If you are, that’s o.k. We love you anyway!! Well its time for me to go. I hope you like it here! Can’t wait to meet you!

Your Mom Kristina

Well it turns out that God had given us a precious baby girl and we did name you Adalyn! You are almost 5 now and such a beautiful little girl! Everything in the letter came true and you had so many incredible experiences in Asheville.
A sweet baby girl was born
Here we are in the bay window I told you about

You sat here many times and watched the snow fall from this window

You stood on top of the world at Max Patch!

...and among the tulips at the Biltmore Estate

You played under the "Asheville Pine"
...and saw it decorated with Snow..


and Rainbows!
Here is your sunny yellow room!

Here is a picture of the big White Oak from the garden window...
...And you did take many baths from that sink!

You made MANY messes...

And CLEANED many messes!

We watched a lot of sunsets from our front porch

You love to wear flowers in your hair, just like mommy

Those 'downtown characters' that I told you about--you fit in quite well with them at the drum circle!
You had your first camping trip and loved it!

You saw the beautiful colors change from green to red and yellow and orange season after season

You turned out to be quite the little hiker and love the outdoors!


You planted and watered flowers and helped me start a garden 

You even helped daddy plant that tree!

I knew you would love sidewalk chalk :)

You had your very own sushi

We took many walks around Beaver Lake

You definitely discovered that 'cold white stuff'!

You have a style of your very own!

And it turns out that Halloween is right up your alley!
You had many fun Halloweens with friends!
I told you clouds are cool!
You love to read
You are an Artist
And a Dancer
...and an Athlete
You are so good to your friends...

And you were Such a good friend to Payton

Now you are a great big sister!
You get fireworks EVERY year on your birthday...sometimes Smiley Face ones!
Ice Cream is your Friend :)
You know how to "Live it Up"
And you like a Dramatic ending in all of your play
You are growing up now, and learning to be "Cool"

The first day of preschool didn't seem so long ago

But the last year sure has flown by!

Our little baby girl is growing up

You can now hold Maya just like I held you here!

And although you have grown up...

..."In a Whirl!"
You will Always, ALWAYS be Our little girl!

You have gone from being the baby to helping with the baby and we couldn't be more proud of you!  You graduated from preschool this week and you start kindergarten in the fall--look how fast you have grown up!  God has given us the most amazing blessing by bringing you into our lives.  remember that we will always love you and can't wait to keep watching you learn and grow as the years go by!

Love, Mommy