Tuesday, September 9, 2008

...It is a Vegetable Even If It Tastes Good!

Straight from the Coach Mom "E"-mail bag is this question...

"What about if the only veggie they like is one smothered in ranch dressing??"

Ahh...good question. Call me if you know the answer, ok? I'm kidding. Sort of. Listen, who wouldn't rather eat a vegetable dipped in ranch dressing which has 14 grams of fat per 2 tbsp. serving. Most kids try to put at least a tablespoon on each piece of celery! Tutone tries to rip the pieces of celery into three smaller pieces so that Super won't fuss at him about "double dipping"!

So what do we do about this problem?

There are a couple of solutions.

1. You could try a substitute to the ranch dressing. Buy fat free ranch dressing.

2. If your kids don't like the taste of the fat free ranch dressing. Buy a packet of ranch seasoning and mix it with fat free sour cream instead.

3. If your kids don't like the taste of that, have them stir it up. It's amazing how much better they think something tastes if they make something themselves. Tutone has been known to pronounce his tacos were the "best in the world", simply because he made them.

4. Try a different dressing altogether. I like to get the Italian Seasoning packets and mix that with fat free sour cream instead of ranch. My own version of "Cream Italian" dressing. Check out some online recipes. And once again, have your kids prepare it.

5. "Jazz" up the veggies. Have fun with it. Cut celery at the bottom in 1/4 slices and place it in water for a couple of days. Watch it fan out. Make it into a science experiment. Use a special ridged cutter for your carrots.

6. Have "Chinese" food night. Get out a pan and let your kids stir fry the veggies. Put in some light soy sauce and garlic. Serve it with chicken and rice. I have been getting the new Chinese dinner kits but only putting in a small amount of the sauce and not using the corn starch at all. Plus adding a ton of my own veggies. Presto! A Chinese food dinner that is a lot healthier than eating out and the kids cooked it themselves! It's bound to be a hit!

Family Fun magazine has lots of great ideas on how to make eating your vegetables fun. Check out their website for more ideas! They have a recipe section and a picky eater section!

That's my biggest advice for solving this problem. Whether you serve your veggies raw or cooked, have your kids be a part of preparing them. My kids have eaten some of the craziest things because they had fun doing it!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

...Give them a Choice!

I find that pre-teens and teenagers are a lot like two year olds. Except taller...and heavier...and not as cute. But I digress...as usual. My point is that when your child was two, your pediatrician may have advised you that for your own sanity, you should give your child a choice. Would they rather have green beans or carrots with dinner? It's time to bring that trick rabbit back out of the hat again.

Notice that I didn't say you should give them a choice about whether or not to eat vegetables at all. I said to give them a choice about which vegetables. When you sit down to plan out your menu for the week (You are doing this, right? You can't afford not to!) , include your children in the process.

Everybody has vegetables they like and don't like. You would be surprised. You may think your child doesn't like vegetables. But if you really start to talk it out, you may find out they don't like vegetables from a can. Or they don't like cooked vegetables. There is nothing wrong with that. Just find out what vegetables they will eat and include those in the plan.

Listen I hate to get all "modern" on you, I mean we can do this old fashioned way if you want and tell your kids to just "do what you say and not what you do" if you want. But wouldn't it be better for everyone if they were enjoying the experience and learning that healthy food doesn't have to "taste yucky"?

My husband hates lima beans. He says that they are not food. He said God made them so that we could keep them in the freezer and use them as an ice pack if someone gets hurt. But that's pretty much the only thing he won't eat, so I can work with that. I don't like frozen vegetables unless it's green beans, which is fine because fresh veggies are better for you anyway. My kids don't like cooked veggies unless they are stir fried. That's easy! I usually just put out a big basket of mixed raw veggies with our meals. And they eat them!

But if I hadn't taken the time to find all this out, I would have spent 20 something years arguing every single night with somebody. Now is that the way you want to end your day? I sure don't.

True story. My sister hated lettuce when she was a kid. She probably still does. My Dad insisted that we had to have a salad every night with our dinner. It is really healthy to do that but it made her truly miserable. And my Mom ended being the bad guy. Of course, it didn't help that it turned into a power struggle. Every night the girl would sit over that salad and cry. It can't have tasted any better with all those salty tears in it.

One night, my Mom was completely fed up and she told her, "I don't care if you sit there until you are eighty, you are going to finish that salad!" My sister looked up at her with tears streaming down her face and said, "When I'm 80, you'll be dead." My other sister and I just stopped in our tracks. We seriously thought that girl was going to get it. My Mom just laughed and said, "Then I'll come back and haunt you." LOL!

Now I ask you...didn't you already have a hard enough day? Do you really want to put yourself through that? Just find out what vegetables your children will eat and give them those!

...We Are the Real Punch Line in This Joke

Don't you love email forwards? I get a lot of them. Some of them are funny. Have you seen this one?

1. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

3. The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

5. The Germans drink a lot of beers and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.


Eat and drink what you like.
Speaking English is apparently what kills you.

I thought it was funny. But then I realized, most people read this and just laugh and move on. They don't realize, the problem isn't speaking English. It's the American attitude that causes heart attacks.

You see, until this millennium, the "supermarket" was primarily an American phenomenon. Now, in more urban areas of Europe and Asia, this trend is changing. But we have proudly had supermarkets for a long time. In this modern era, we have achieved even great feats. TV dinners have nothing on us! We are excited that we can make dinner in 1 minute or less. Dinner is in a bag and you can heat it up in 5 minutes. Everything you need is included. We think if it takes longer than 5 minutes, then we have done something wrong. That's attitude #1 that has contributed to this problem -- processed foods. Our foods lack fiber and vitamins!

I am not asking you to spend hours in the kitchen each night. Meals can take less than 30 minutes to prepare and still be healthy. But we will come back to this later.

The other thing that people in other countries do is use other methods of transportation besides a personal vehicle. I can hear it now. Brakes squealing everywhere! "What give up my car?" That's not what I am saying. Let's face it. America is not built with a village mentality in mind. Most of us are not within walking or bike riding distance of a market, library, or our work place. Especially with what bad shape we are in. Oops, did I say that out loud?

All I am saying is that we need exercise. That's how God made us. And since America is not set up the way other countries are, you are going to have to look for that exercise. We can "brainstorm" about this later too. Right now I just want you thinking about what I am saying. This is attitude #2 of what goes into making that joke true. That is, until "The Western Culture" started influence other countries. Sometimes good things come with bad side effects.

You can fix this though! You can change it. Instead of being the punch line of this joke, get out there and get a new attitude. Let's teach our children Paul means when he says...

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

...Your Kids Can Run a Marathon...A 1/2 mile at a time!

My son Super loves to run. But not everyone does. My son Tutone is more of a sprinter than a runner. But whether you run, sprint, jog, or walk, getting out there every day and exercising is important. Sometimes our kids (and we) just need a little motivation.

So check this out. Marathon Kids is a fitness program that encourages kids to run/walk 26.2 miles in 6 months. Marathon Kids also encourages you to vow to eat 5 fruits and vegetables for 26.2 days out of the month, a rather clever play on the marathon theme.

They have "kick off" events in 7 communities across the country. But even if they are not in your area yet, there is no reason for you not to participate with your kids!

What are you waiting for? Don't let your child become one of the millions of Americans who have to learn later in life what it means to eat right and live a healthy lifestyle!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

...Make Menu Planning Fun!

Are you bored of answering the question "What's for dinner?" Maybe you need a new perspective. Listen, like it or not, it's your job to make sure your children are fed. 5 out of 5 social services workers agree. So why not make it fun for you and them, while making it healthy?

Most of my friends think I like to do things the hard way. It's probably true. But maybe if you start out slow and incorporate some of my suggestions just one night a week, you will liven up your boring menu plan.

My menu planning involves "naming" my nights of the week. I find that if I can convince myself that I have a theme, then it feels more like a party.

This week we have...

"Sat Around Saturday" -- you guessed it. We had leftovers and cleaned out the fridge. That's the day I did my shopping.

"#2 Son Sunday" -- My oldest has left home. But my second son cooked a fabulous breakfast of two types of pancakes - chocolate chip and blueberry. Then for dinner he made our family and our guests salmon cooked in banana leaves. I am not kidding. However, this was not his first time cooking, as you may have guessed. (Remember, Coachmom says, "Use your kids!" Start training them now! They need to know how to cook later anyway!)

"Mmm Mmm Monday" -- main dishes with the letter M. Breakfast was muffins (and some other things of course). Dinner was Mexican.

"T's Turn Tuesday" -- my third son's name conveniently starts with the letter T, or at least I thought it was convenient. He choose to make Waffle House style Hashbrowns with the fixings for breakfast and Tacos for dinner. Just what we needed, more Mexican. But we live in Texas after all!

"What's That Wednesday?" -- have your kid's ever asked you, "Ewww, what's that?" when you served dinner? This would be a great time to try and make them! I make things like Baked Oatmeal for breakfast and casseroles for dinner. Try All Recipes for the Baked Oatmeal recipe and other great ideas.

"Thrilling Thursday" -- only things my kids like. Cinnamon rolls for breakfast and Texas Ranch chicken for dinner.

"Fun Friday" -- ice cream waffle sandwiches for breakfast (Excuse me! It's light ice cream. And it's got milk. It's actually healthier than giving your kids Captain Crunch!) For dinner we have homemade pizza. My bread machine makes awesome dough on the dough setting! The boys love putting their own toppings on and it's healthier and cheaper than ordering out.

I know some of these are a stretch, but it's your menu, so do what you want! Just be creative.

Some other ideas Mexican Monday, Macaroni Monday, Manic Monday (for leftovers); Topsy Turvy Tuesday (have breakfast for dinner), "T" Time Tuesday (everything starts with T); World-wide Wednesday (any international dish like Italian, Indian, etc,)...

Another thing you can do is look up the different "days" on a calendar and center the theme around that.

Is it Christopher Columbus Day? Serve a dish from Spain like Spanish Paella. (Yes, I know Columbus was from Genoa, but he sailed from Spain and after all Italian is too easy!)

How about having something with avocado in it on September 9th to celebrate the day that California was admitted to the union in 1850?

Or during Constitution Week serving a different dish from each of the original 13 colonies? Start here for a list of State Foods.

There is a lot of great "theme" things you can do. So, get up, stop sitting around and moping! You've got a make dinner. So let's make it fun! Now get out there!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

...Never Do This!

Here are some cleaning things that I found out the hard way. If you are a new mom or a young mom, or if your mother is making you read this because she is one of my friends, then please read this carefully and learn from my mistakes.

Things I Found Out the Hard Way

Change the vacuum cleaner bag at least once a month. Check every week to see if it is full. Trust me, just do it. Full vacuum cleaner bags will explode all over your carpet. My husband will tell you that when we first got married I didn't even know there was such a thing as a vacuum cleaner bag.

If you do not change the air filter in your central air, ice will form on it and then water will leak all over the floor when you switch over to heat. This will happen especially if you live in one of those states where the day you turn off the air conditioner is the same day that you turn on the heat.

"Unattended" laundry in the washer will get black spots in it and will smell like cheese. Forever.

You know that "capacity" suggestion on the washer? Uh, yeah. That's not a suggestion. King sized comforters do not belong in a regular sized washer. PTL, I found this out before we got the one that has the door in the front!

"Uh oh" is never a good sound if one of your children is standing near a bathroom or a kitchen sink. You know what? Scratch that. You never want to hear your children say "uh oh" ever.

If you leave a cucumber in a ziplock bag in the refrigerator for too long, it will turn to liquid.

Oh and that reminds me...food left in the freezer too long doesn't taste real good.

Red food coloring doesn't come out of anything easily, that includes kitchen counters. So you might want to cover things with wax paper first. A lot of wax paper.

Children should not be allowed to clean a room without it being inspected more than one week in a row. No matter how good they usually are. Just take my word for that. Inspections good.

And if you ever come over to my house, you are not allowed to look in one of two places. My bedroom closet and my schoolroom closets are off limits. That's where the mess is! LOL! They get cleaned more often than they used to though!

When I left for college, my parents cleaned out my closet, and they found book from the library that was due two years before. Whew! They were not happy! Use Library Elf
It works!

...Ask a stupid question...

In the spirit of fairness, I want you to know that I haven't always said the most encouraging things to my children either! Remember what I said, nobody's perfect! But learn from my mistakes, because if you want your kids to help you around the house with a good attitude, this is not the way to encourage them. My poor oldest son has a sarcastic sense of humor for a reason! Although it makes us laugh, these things are probably better left unsaid...

Of course, the age old..."What's going on in there?"

"Is there any cleaning going on up there?"

"Were you planning on coming off grounding, oh I don't know, ever?"

"Does this look clean to you?"

"Why does your room smell like dirty underwear?"

"You didn't really take all your clean laundry and put it into your dirty laundry basket instead of putting it away, did you?!?"

"Why does your bathroom smell like cheese?"

"Do you really need to put on a bathing suit to clean the bathtub?"

"Did you really think I wasn't going to look in this drawer?"

"Who thought it was a good idea to stick all this stuff down the garbage disposal in the first place?"

"This was an accident? Do you know the definition of accident?"

And my all time favorite...

"Do I look stupid to you?" (then as child opens mouth) "Do you really think you should answer that question?"

Trust me, I'm sure my kids could come up with a million more. Some of my friends think I'm hilarious. My husband and my kids don't. And that's really the point isn't it? This is not the best way to motivate your team. So save this kind of humor for when you are alone with your friends, and don't use it on your kids. Remember, the things you say to your kids, they will say to your future adorable perfect little grandchildren!

...Encourage your kids!

I subscribe to what I call the Cesar Milan method of parenting. Now if you don't have a dog (or a T.V.!), then you may not have heard of "The Dog Whisperer". Milan trains dogs using a special method, but don't ask me if it works with dogs. Mine is as spoiled as the day is long, which in Texas is very, very long (and hot!).

The method works like this...Exercise...Discipline...Affection

Here's how you put it into practice with pre-teens and teenagers. If you can, it's best to start at about age 9.

First thing in the morning, you get them up and you exercise them. And I mean exercise them hard - not chores, real exercise. This morning we went for a two mile run, then we came back and they swam laps. Then they came in and did chores. Then they took a quick "Navy" shower. Finally, it was time for breakfast! Yes this is one of the reasons I have the "coach" nickname! LOL!

Then, we are ready for school. Our first class is "Homeroom". That might sound weird to some people but I have a reason for it. (And it starts at 8 am so that tells you how fast they are running and swimming to get all of this done between by 8 am). The purpose behind Homeroom is a team building exercise. Your child needs to know that it's you and him/her (and that child and their siblings) against the world. You need to function as a team to survive. (Yes, more sports metaphors, LOL!) If a member of the team starts acting like a star and caring more about only himself and not as part of the team, the team is not going to win "the race".

So how does "Homeroom" serve as both Discipline and Affection? The first thing you need to know is who you child is and who they want to become. That way you will know how to talk to them in a way that will motivate them. Do they want to be in the Army one day? Do they want
to be an Olympic swimmer? Do they want to play in the NFL? Do they want to go to college? Then you work on what character traits it takes to become that person and what you see lacking. But you don't lecture them about it, use the Socratic method - turn it around and you ask them. What do they think it takes to become the person who plays in the NFL rather than the person watching the game on the couch on Sunday? Write the things down on the board or a big poster board. A good work ethic? Lots of practice? Determination? What do they think they need to change in themselves to make this happen?

The Affection part comes when you start telling them what you see in them that makes you proud. Bring up examples of when you saw that character trait in them...the things you want to reinforce. Don't keep bringing up what you want to see changed. You have already covered that. End on a note of what you see as progress. For example, "I was so proud of you when you got up early this morning without me having to come in and wake you up. You were already outside doing your chores. Thank you!" Or "During the game on Saturday, when the referee made that bad call, you didn't complain at all. But you didn't let it bother you either, you just came right
back out on the next drive and sacked their quarterback. Great job! Now that's real sportsmanship."

Most importantly, know your child. What is their love language? When you are showing affection make sure you are showing it in a way that they can "hear it". Do they want a hug? Do they want to hear words of affirmation? Do they like rewards? You need to know what a child's love language is or you could be accidentally send the wrong signal. Do not assume a child responds to your language of love.

At the beginning of the year, Homeroom is where I reassess the children's love language, learning style, etc. to make sure that I am "speaking their language" and teaching so that they can learn.


Exercise - then they are too tired to argue back.

Discipline - when they are already to tired to talk back, now is the time to talk about what they need to work on.

Affection - end the conversation on a positive note so that they feel loved.

The balance of Truth and Grace is vital. Remember that God shows us both Truth and Grace. He disciplines us in love. But we always know that He loves us. Your child needs to feel that
unconditional love as well.

...Nobody's Perfect!

When my mother read my blogs on cleaning, she said, "Who would have ever thought you would be into cleaning?" The fact is...I'm not! Not at all! But as she accurately pointed out, "Guess that's what having boys does to you!" I hate cleaning, but my husband likes it clean. And with a house full of boys, without lists on what to do, I am lost!

That's why I wanted to take a minute to point out to you that you should never read anything that I have written on my blog and think that I have it all figured out. Please! I have these things typed out for myself as much as I do for you, if not more!

Nobody is perfect. God knew that. He sent His Son for you for just that reason! A friend of mine recently said, "When I grow up, I want to be just like you." If you are looking at me, then you are looking in the wrong direction. Anything I ever get right, I get right because of His help. And everything I ever get right, it's generally because I already got it wrong at least once! I'm stubborn that way! LOL!

Some of you are frustrated with life. You are frustrated with your kids. You are frustrated with your attempts to lose weight. The one thing I can really tell you that will help? Don't try to do things on your own strength. God did not create us that way. He created us to turn to Him. And He created us to be in relationship with one another.

God knows that we are not perfect. That doesn't just apply to the big problem areas of our life but the small daily struggles as well. You need to remember that we live under grace. If you are expecting yourself to be perfect then you are never going to have joy in your life and you are not being the person that God fully created you to be. Everyone reading this has something to add to another person's life through the lessons you have learned and the struggles you have faced. It's not prideful to realize that and let God use you to help other people. But it is being prideful to think that you can and will do everything right all the time! Trust me, I know what I am talking about!

God wants you to ask Him for help. If you have never done that before and you want to know how, please feel free to contact me.

Now get out there and have a great day! God Bless you!