1. For quite some time now, we've been allowing the kids to each pick a dinner a week. We also have a rule that it can't be the same dinner two weeks in a row(though it could be every other week). And recently, we've added another element: on their night, they have to help with the dinner preparations. Jane, our almost 2-year-old, isn't involved in this yet, and Annabelle, our barely turned four year old, I only have help for bits and pieces, but both Charles and Elisabeth are with me the whole time and helping. I want them to learn how to cook, and I think learning to cook their favorite meals, is a good start. They both can make scrambled eggs all on their own now, and things like peanut butter sandwiches and quesadillas. Here is a picture of Charles helping me make Mr. Pings Secret Ingredient Noodle Soup. I don't let them use sharp knives yet so I did the cutting of veggies, though he grated the carrots, rinsed the veggies, helped with spices and stirring etc. and now he knows what's involved with Pings soup. They both actually really look forward to helping me make their favorite meals.
2. We put Charles in piano lessons starting a few weeks ago. He really enjoys practicing the piano and being able to play different songs. At the same time, we had to stop Elisabeth's ballet lessons. With her and Charles having piano lessons each week and they also have to practice at least 30 minutes a day, plus with homework and then her soccer team is starting up again in a week and she has two, one hour practices each week plus a game on Saturday, and the baby is due in less than 2 months....it was all just too much. So for now, we're putting ballet on hold. If she decides she wants to do it next year instead of soccer, then we'll try and figure it out, but for now she wants to do soccer again.
3. Elisabeth and Charles both asked if they could have their own recipe binder filled with their favorite recipes(I have two recipe binders I made for myself awhile back. One is from when we were first married and contains recipes up until about a year ago. The other I made about a year ago and has our healthier recipes in it). Here is Elisabeth copying down some of her favorite recipes from my recipe book...I told her I could easily just print them off for her and she could insert them in, but she wanted to write them all down herself.
4. A picture of Jane eating guacamole. I wish all my kids would have had a mom who ate healthy from the beginning of their lives because it is SO much easier to get them to eat good foods when they're babies as opposed to changing things when they're in grade school. The grade schoolers are still not impossible, but they're just a little more challenging. We have a rule that the kids have to try a couple bites of whatever dinner I make each night, even if they've had it many times before and didn't like it. I am a firm believer that one can learn to develop different tastes through many experiences(and if you're starving, you'll eat anything, right? :))....and if you only have good food options in your house, it's so much easier to get them to eat that good food. But if you have things like gold fish crackers, pop tarts or cold boxed cereal, it's SO hard for them to turn those sugary/white flour treats down and eat beans and veggies instead. Why? Because they're addicted to those foods. Those foods are the kinds where you can eat and eat and still your body will be craving for more because they lack the nutrition your body needs. You'll end up eating more calories and quantity, and feeling less satisfied than if you ate nutrient rich foods like nuts, seeds, beans, grains, veggies, etc. And don't worry, my kids don't starve. If they don't like something and they've tried a couple of bites, we allow them to make a sandwich or eat a large salad or something else that is still a good choice. Alright, I'll step off my soap box now :).
And Jane again eating a piece of home-made whole wheat bread(my kids all love this bread now and eat it for lunch with natural peanut butter! Wahoo! It took awhile though. Most store bought breads, even if they're whole wheat, have either sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Don't believe me? Check the ingredients.)
5. Annabelle eating lunch off her new divided food tray. We picked one up for each of the kids at Walmart for $1 a piece. They each have their own color. We have fewer dishes this way because they reuse the plates during the day, and I like the dividers because many times they don't want their salad mixed in with their dinner, or their strawberries touching their sandwich. Annabelle's favorite thing to eat for lunch is apples and peanut butter. They're also all still in love with our granola which sure makes breakfast easy. And sometimes they'll have a little leftover and eat it as a snack or with lunch like Annabelle is in this picture: granola with plain greek yogurt that is sweetened with agave.