Friday, February 27, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
New Practices--Part III
Sacrifice being the theme of our next 40 days, this post goes right along with it. With our next new practice, our boys are unknowingly sacrificing their fledgling tastebuds for the sake of their overworked mama. In addition to our clothes-at-breakfast and bib-wearing policies, we've also added another--the eat-what-you're-served-and-like-it rule. ;) You can see where this one's going...
My boys were (and still are) quite un-adventurous when it comes to trying new foods and eating like "big boys". We've attempted having them eat like us, but have always caved, fixing them their own meals and causing their mama more work. In all of this their palate has only become more "refined". At one point, we were having to buy a specific type of mac 'n cheese because all others would be rejected. Ugh!!
So I stopped. Cold turkey. One night the boys were bedazzled with their typical dino-shaped nuggets of glory, and the next they were met with beef stroganoff and broccoli. Whoa. This totally rocked their little worlds. Thankfully, I will say they are good fruit and veggie eaters, so the broccoli went down pretty easily, while the beef stroganoff remained untouched. The new rule: "All boys must make a good effort* on all parts of their plate before a) receiving any more of one part and/or b) dessert. *"Good effort" is up to Mommy and Daddy's subjective decision. ;) If boys choose not to eat their meals, they may ask to be excused politely and may wait until the next meal to eat.
You can imagine the whines heard around our table--"Mommy, I don't like that sauce" or "Mommy, that chicken is so yucky". As soon as they start, though, I say my rehearsed line, "My ears hurt from all of this whining. You are welcome to eat the things you like and stay here or you may continue your whining in your room." At extreme stand-offs, I will merely place a time-limit on the clock and ask for a boy to start his meal before the elapsed time or he will be automatically excused from the table. With those practices in place, we have pressed onward and dinners have been rather pleasant. The only hang-up: my kids are going hungry and often, which is hard for a parent to see (especially the Daddy parent :).
Yet the biggest "Aha" moment came when I watch this video about San Damiano Foundation's work with starving children. The movie led me to tears as I sat and watched young children unable to sit due to extreme starvation. Later when flushing down the latest shunned dinner creation, I thought of the starving children again and how they would be sprinting, possibly killing, to have a bite of my children's wasted food. The only difference between those children and my own is that my own had never known starvation. If they knew the WANT of hunger, they would scarf down anything on their plates. Going "hungry" for one evening was not going to hurt them.
A few good things about this new policy is 1) the boys love breakfast and will eat to their heart's content every morning, therefore I know they are getting plenty of vitamins and minerals; 2) they enjoy having many of their old dinner favorites for lunchtime--mac 'n cheese, nuggets, PB and J make regular appearances around noontime much to their delight; and 3) we are starting to see some real progress even in just a few weeks. Just last night I made my famous "Cheesy Soup" with potatoes, onions, and celery. The boys have never touched this mama wonder, that is until last night. I was in disbelief as I helped our M spoon bite after bite into his mouth. Pardon me, is this my child??? In the past few weeks, we've also come to realize how much our T enjoys meat. Last week GG and I chuckled on the phone while T yelled in the background, "Mommy, I want meat. I want meat!!" Hysterical. The kid loves all things ground beef, steak, and sausage. We would have never really known this if we hadn't challenged him to branch out a little. Watch out arteries! :)
So there you have it, the last of our recent Gasperini-Ville policies to go 'round. No doubt I'll be updating soon with the latest tweak or alteration. No doubt, though, we are better off in our evolution and realizing day-by-day that change can be a good thing. We just have to be willing to work through the adjustment!
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
New Practices--Part II
Bibs are a bit baby'ish, though. And what mother wants to fight the bib battle when there are already so many other fires to put out?
I had abandoned bibs and the daily battles that ensued when I tried to put them on my boys. Even our beloved Bjorn bibs weren't cutting it anymore. Both boys knew how to remove them, so why bother? The Spray 'n Wash was getting a lot of attention. Overall, my children were looking more and more ragged as they continued to spill and abuse their poor clothing.
Yet the morning I found myself and my children sitting around the table dressed for breakfast, I knew our bib policy had to change as well. I was not going to let their crisp clothes go to waste that early in the morning!!! So we made some new rules.
With M just turning 4 and officially becoming a "big boy", I felt it was important to show him some manly deference. Our first rule, therefore, was "All children over 4 do not have to wear bibs until they spill. Once a child has spilled, he must immediately wear a bib." M was happy with this. Not only did it give him big boy privileges, but it also challenged him toward eating more neatly. Excellent. And might I say, he has become an extremely neat eater since!
The next "rule" or choice offered was as followed, "All children under age 4 may choose between a normal plastic bib or a towel draped over their shirts." Offering T some options for him to choose was wonderful! He took to the towel almost instantly (probably because it is something new and "more grown-up") and now asks for it every time he sits down. He also seems to grasp that when he gets a little older, he'll have new privileges just like his big brother. There is hope in his little world. :) I will say, though, that upon instituting this policy, we had a few stand-offs where T refused to put on his bib or towel. Remember, he is two and two-year-olds are SO very wise. ;) Here's an example of one of our little skirmishes: I said my rehearsed line, "T, would you like to put on your bib and join us for breakfast?" "No, Mommy, no bib," T retorted. "Okay (taking him down from his seat) when you're ready to wear your bib, you may join us. Otherwise, we are trying to enjoy our breakfast so you may finish your tears in your bedroom."
The mere possibility of not getting to eat and having to go to his room was all it took to make him acquiesce to the bib. Battle won.
The final rule is one both boys seem to understand, "All boys wear bibs when eating syrup." This is non-negotiable and essential for our pancake mornings. It will definitely be in place until they stop dipping their pancakes in syrup by hand--and perhaps that's an appropriate progression for this rule later on. "When you begin to use a fork and knife to eat your pancakes, you can stop wearing a bib for syrupy breakfasts." Magnifico!
So there you have it--three simple rules. They are not complex, but allow me to make some general guidelines, the children to feel some freedom, and all of us to walk away from the breakfast table more presentable now that we're dressed for our days. I mainly enforce the bib rule at breakfast for by lunch and dinner, they're already so dirty and scrappy, we're just ready to be done with the day. I also find the latter two meals to be generally less messy. No doubt, though, the bib policy would do fine extending throughout the day.
New Practice on the docket for tomorrow, Ash Wednesday--eating policies! How appropriate as we all begin to reflect on ways to sacrifice more during the Lenten season.
God bless you today,
Monday, February 23, 2009
New Practices--Part I
For some readers, our anecdotes may provide a light bite and opportunity for laughter; for others, I hope it offers you some food for thought as you take on the daily challenges of raising children. I am always eager to hear what's working for other parents... If anything, this will offer a distinct look at life in Gasperini-Ville for posterity (read: when our grandchildren are acting up, all we'll have to do is look back and see how much work it took to raise their fathers! lol.)
You see, we Gasperinis are not he most patient, most attentive, most obedient lot in the world. And who is? Yet a mama's intuition was sensing we needed CHANGE and now. We were all beginning to buckle under some dreadful old habits, which were fine at one point in our evolution, but now needed some sprucing and updating for our survival. In general, the kids are getting older and with age comes greater responsibility. We laughed the other day when pulling into the church parking lot as M said, "I don't want to be four anymore; I want to be three again" because he didn't want to attend Mass, but rather head straight to the church nursery. ;) And while it is tempting for parents to give in and "baby" their precious children, GG and I know in our hearts that challenging our little guys will do wonders for their future maturity, responsibility, etc. I have been especially inspired by the book Parenting With Love and Logic, by Foster W. Cline and Jim Fay. It has helped to equip me with a proper perspective as I face the daily battles ensuing in Gasperini-Ville!
One of the first slight alterations we've made of late is the requirement of boys to be dressed in order to be served breakfast (I also applied this one to myself!). I know this change might seem rather insignificant and something the rest of the world figured out years ago, but remember, we're Gasperinis. Such a change has made waves in Gasperini-Ville--and good ones. We had gotten into a horrible rut of rolling out of bed and into our day, facing the day's tasks unkempt and unenthusiastic. I was constantly having to will the boys to get dressed--who wouldn't want to stay in his jammies all day? It wasn't uncommon for me to have to take clothes to the car because someone wasn't yet dressed before we headed out on an errand. When I would finally have them dressed, clothes would often be strewn all over the house (and car!), beckoning my extra energy to round them up in order to get laundry done. What a mess!! Something had to change.
So GG and I made the simple rule that no one was to be served breakfast without being dressed. The first morning we instituted this iniative, we met disaster. We managed a tearful and overly dramatic M, who is often rigid in the midst of change. In the heat of the moment, GG and I were tempted to get annoyed with one another and back down, BUT WE DIDN'T! We stuck it out and tried to maintain relative peace and order (at least with one another). After thirty minutes of tantrums and general unhappiness, the boys and I found ourselves dressed and around the breakfast table, ready to tackle the day. Day one was over and accomplished. Whew!
The next day, M (having had a recent birthday) had new toys with which to play and was engrossed. "Breakfast will be served for the next 20 minutes," I said as I laid his clothes outside the playroom. T had already decided to get dressed (his appetite winning him over) and was eating his cereal. The three of us (Baby J included) had an enjoyable breakfast and delightfully cleared our places, going on with our day. At this point, I gave M one last reminder that breakfast was soon to be over. No response--he was too enthralled with playtime to make getting dressed and eating breakfast a priority.
An hour and a half later, M came running up to me, "Mom, I'm so hungry. It's time for my breakfast." Mind you, at this time, he was completely naked, having tried to dress himself so that he could receive his meal. "Oh, I'm sorry, " I replied, "breakfast was over long ago. You'll have to wait for lunch, which we'll be having soon." "But I want my cereal," M retorted to which I replied, "Well, you'll have to look forward to that tomorrow. Why don't we get you dressed and ready for lunch?" And that was the end of it. Can you guess who was first to be dressed and ready to go the next morning? Now, I can barely get out of the shower before I have M running up to remind me that it's time for breakfast! Nice change!!
The following morning, my belovedly stubborn T was having a rough one. In his two-year-old wisdom, he was unwilling to get undressed and submit to the 2 seconds of being cold in order to put on his clothes. I knew how hungry he was, so I knew that despite his stubborn nature, he'd come around. At the steps he cried, "Mommy, I want breakfast." I replied, "We'll enjoy having you once you're dressed. Are you ready to put on your clothes?," "No!" said T. This exchange went back-and-forth for a little while, until M and I officially began eating and (overly) enjoying our breakfast. "Wow, this is so yummy. I love waffles and syrup," I exaggerated. This was all too much for our T, who immediately said, "Mommy, I'm ready to get dressed. Will you help me?" "Sure," I smiled--this was all music to my ears.
Since then, it has been smooth sailing and somewhat amazing to have this new practice as part of our daily routine. We are more efficient with our time; we are ready to go at a moment's notice; we are higher functioning and generally more pleasant in the mornings. That is, unless it's Saturday. Saturdays are off-limits. PJ's are allowed in full force at breakfast... and as long as the boys would like to wear them. Now, isn't that nice? I just love a little compromise.
As I mentioned in my last post, we've still have many hang-ups in our days, but I would venture to say they'd be a lot worse without this new practice in place. I am less frazzled and more patient as a result.
Next Up Tomorrow: our new bib-wearing policy--get excited!! ;)
God bless you today, even if you ate your breakfast in jammies!! Hugs and prayers,
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Movie Review: FANTASTIC!! GG and I really enjoyed the film and thought it was so well-done. It reminded us of one of our all-time favorites, The Red Violin, because of the nature of the flashbacks and keen development of each timeline's characters and plot. It was so good that I almost forgot I was watching a fictional tale--I still have to remind myself, at times, that the story was not true. Everything was just so believeable... We agree with The Academy!