Wednesday, March 28, 2012

 I read this post at Keeper of the Home and enjoyed it so much that I wanted to share it with all of you. I especially liked the last section where she describes her approach to food and meals with her own children. It sounds like she has a good system and is having success with teaching her kids to appreciate food and to understand health and nutrition. Enjoy:


Picky Eaters: Avoiding the Dinnertime Dilemma By Raising Children With a Heart of Gratitude

by COURTNEY on MARCH 23, 12

Written by Courtney, Contributing Writer
Picky eaters, finicky eaters, stubborn, selective. The notion of children being picky about their food is common these days. I’ve noticed that it’s tossed around as “normal” and accepted, even justified by some. Pop psychology and modern day experts in child development cite is as appropriate.
But is it?
I have to ask if this trend is something new or if young children were always “predisposed” to be picky eaters. One hundred years ago, did children reject the food their parents served them? And if so, did their parents abide, merely tossing their meal, food that was oftentimes grown and harvested with their own hands?
Some of this is cultural. Our affluent society doesn’t mind throwing food away. From restaurants to the produce section at the grocery store, fresh food is wasted on a regular basis and at an alarming rate. In many countries around the world, people have so much less and are so much more grateful. If a simple porridge is all that’s available or all that a family can afford, it is eaten with gratitude. While children in our culture are complaining about the taste of certain foods, there are children all over the world desperately wishing they had something, anything, to eat.
While parents in the modern developed world are obsessing over "scarring" their children if they push food onto them or introduce food in the wrong way, worrying about leaving a bad image of that food in their child's mind for life, mothers in many underdeveloped countries are worrying about where to find their next meal or how to provide food for their child, period.
Kevin Carter's Starving African Child Pictures, Images and Photos
An image like the one above is not meant to stir up feelings of guilt or shame in our hearts. It's not that we should clear our plates "because there are children in Africa who are starving". Instead, images like the this should serve as a reminder of the reality that much of the world faces, a reality we don't see on a day to day basis in our culture of abundance.
Our responses to heartbreaking images like this one should be compassion, prayer, and action. It should also serve as a reminder of the Lord's many blessings, even the simple ones we may take for granted each evening as we gather around the dinner table. May we reconsider our own lifestyle choices and gain a renewed gratitude for what we do have.

Picky Eater Syndrome

In our society, have we become so comfortable with excess stuff that we’ve lost our sense of gratitude for the most basic human needs? Have we learned to get through life on our own or do we trust in our Heavenly Father for His provision? Are we so far removed from our food that we don’t realize the hard work that goes into taking it from seed to table?
I’m not trying to point fingers here. I fell prey to the “picky eater syndrome” with my first child. “Eat three more bites and then you can have this cookie.” I laugh as I look back. I am grateful for the many good intuitive choices I made as a young mother, namely to breastfeed and co-sleep, but this dinnertime defeat is not one of them!
It wasn’t until my third child came along that I wisened up. I had just come out of college, working toward degrees in elementary education and psychology. I went straight from the classroom to the home full-time. I was fed up with modern psychology and experts who claimed that we must cater to a child's every whim and that we might mess them up for life if we, heaven forbid, do something like serve them food they do not like.
Don't get me wrong. It is wise to consider how we introduce first foods and how we approach food in general. That does matter. But we can do that with a broader perspective,  a perspective that goes beyond the comforts of this culture that knows little about starving or genuine physical suffering.
 At that point, my husband and I started doing what made sense. We didn’t want to merely raise our children to be “good citizens” with “high self-esteem”. We wanted to raise God-honoring children with a heart of service for others and for the Lord. Children who depend on the Lord for wisdom and strength. Children who are grateful for what the Lord provides, not taking for granted even the simple things. This applies to all things, and the dinner table is certainly not excluded.


Our approach to the dinner table looks like this:

A Healthy Foundation

Children who are breastfed are less likely to become picky eaters. The flavor of  breast milk  changes according to a mother's diet. When I eat a variety of healthy food with a wide spectrum of flavor combinations, my babies are developing their palates.
When introducing first foods, we serve only real foods. No Gerber in this household! Synthetic processed food ruins little appetites and sets the stage for unhealthy eating patterns. We avoid that trap from the start.

From Seed to Table

At a young age, our children are involved in growing and preparing food. As babies in theMoby Wrap in the garden to picking lettuce and tomatoes for dinner as toddlers, our children get to see that amazing process of growing a plant from a seed. What toddler wouldn’t love snatching a bean straight off the vine and munching away right there in the yard? Sure, it means a lower yield in the end, but we're just glad they’re embracing real food at an early age and learning to be grateful for what we have.
Someday, we hope to have chickens for eggs and meat, a cow for milk, and more! In the meantime, we take advantage of things like farm visits to expose my children to the hard work that goes into our food beyond what they learn from our humble garden.
In the kitchen, our children are involved in food preparation at a young age. They enjoy browsing through cookbooks even more than I do. Even as young as 2 and 3, they will sit down and admire the beautiful pictures of delicious food, and they will then, of course, ask me to help them make it!
There’s this silly idea that children prefer white bread and things made with white flour. Really? But it has no taste. No flavor! When children see me take berries of rye, wheat, or spelt, and turn it into flour, and when they help prepare meals from it, there’s not a single complaint. This is normal. White flour is not. White flour is the deviation from the norm.
We often pack as much healthy, wholesome food into dishes as possible, but we don’t deceptively hide healthy food in unhealthy food. That would be unproductive in terms of instilling healthy eating habits and wrong in that it's dishonest.

At the Dinner Table

Dinner time is a special time each day. We all look forward to sitting down together, all distractions aside, and sharing about our days. When we pray and thank the Lord for the food before us, our children learn to be grateful.
Our children usually eat what’s on their plates and oftentimes ask for seconds (or if it’s our growing five year old, thirds). But if they claim they’re not hungry, that’s understandable, too. Little appetites can vary so much depending on how their bodies are growing.
If they claim to be full, we put their food away to be eaten at the next meal. We don’t make a big deal of it or force them to eat when they’re not hungry. Often, it is not that they’re not hungry but instead that they don’t want to eat a certain food, so we hardly every have to do this. It is a simple reminder that we eat what is served and food is not to be wasted.
We keep snacking to a minimum, and this helps to bring hungry tummies to the table! We’re snacking more right now, since I’m pregnant and can’t eat very much at one meal. Soon, though, we’ll go back to snacking only occasionally. When we eat healthy, whole foods, we find that we often stay full until the next meal. If we have something like a smoothie that contains just about everything, we are hardly ready to eat by the next meal.
It is my hope that by making wise food choices, I am teaching my children to be wise stewards of the Lord’s resources and His provision, and that they are learning to be grateful for what they have.

**Again, this entire post, including text and pictures, is from Keeper of the Home at:

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

C. S. Lewis

I've only ever had short glimpses of his genius.

I've read multiple quotes that left me itching to read more and to find out more about this spiritual giant. But I've never delved deeply into his writing and discourses.

In preparation for the upcoming bi-annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints I've been reading through all the talks in the Ensign edition of the latest General Conference (October, 2011). I'm currently reading Elder Tad R. Callister's talk entitled "The Book of Mormon--a Book from God."  In it he quotes C. S. Lewis on Jesus Christ:

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. . . . You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. . . . But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. (source)

Incredibly profound and absolutely true. If one reads the New Testament and pays attention to Christ's words and his multiple claims that He is the Son of God it is obvious that He is either true divinity or He is completely mad. I have no doubts that Jesus is the Son of our Heavenly Father, but just supposing the latter were true, and Jesus lived his whole life lying about being a god, why would a person listen to the moral teachings of such a man, a compulsive liar?

I completely agree with Lewis's powerful statement and, like so many other quotes of his that I've read, this one has left me wanting more.

Suggestions on where to start?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Signs of Spring

Spring time weather always teases us. It warms up, then it snows, it gets a little warmer, then a cold rainy stretch, warmer, colder, warmer, colder, on and on until we all feel like we're about to go crazy. I'm sure the teasing isn't quite over yet. But I've been seeing little signals everywhere during the past week or so that make it seem like it's just around the corner.

First: Earlier this week I took Alice out to the hidden backyard of our apartment and found the greenest little patch of grass I'd seen in all of Provo. The pictures don't really do it justice but I was so delighted by how soft and thick and brilliantly green the grass in our little backyard was!

She wasn't too happy with me plopping her on the grass and then walking back a few steps to take her picture. The only way I could get her to stay there was by letting her play with my phone (only "toy" I had on hand)

During the winter when everything is cold and gray and dead I forget how quaint our little backyard is. The rickety, seasoned, wooden fence and the gnarled old stump are just so cute!

Second: Throughout the week I've been watching my landlord's front yard peach tree. The buds were just becoming noticeable on Monday and by the time Friday came they were finally starting to open up and show a bit of pink petal peeping through.

Third: The flowers! Our landlord's daffodils and hyacinth have happily bloomed and are cheering up what was for so long a sad looking patch of dirt. Alice really loves the flowers. I'll have to keep an eye on her to make sure she doesn't pick every single bloom off the hyacinth stalks.

See the pile of the flowers she picked?

Pretty, pretty hyacinths.

And Fourth: The birds! I love to hear the birds tweeting and singing in the trees. They're happy songs make my heart feel light and put a smile on my face. During my jog this morning I ran by about a dozen red-breasted robins scampering around looking for food and nest building supplies. What happy looking birds.

Happy Spring Time!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Work and Fun

I received a few free editions of Seeing magazine a few weeks ago at a large family event (Legacy). It's a really beautifully done magazine full of photos and stories about everyday home life and family memories written by many of its subscribers. I recognized several of the contributing authors as some of my own relatives. One story especially stuck out to me.

My cousin, Justin Walker, who is several years older than me (maybe 10?) and is married with children of his own, wrote a short essay entitled Refined Through Our Work. His opening paragraph:

"I grew up with 10 siblings in a small Idaho community, where we spent many summer hours working and playing on the family farm. With a brilliant combination of cretivity, persistence, and abundant labor opportunities, Mom and Dad instilled in us the joy of working together as a family. Family work projects included canning fruits and vegetables, freezing corn, and changing hand-line sprinklers in what were supposed to be alfalfa fields (but were actually mosquito breeding grounds)." (page 38 Summer Issue/Number 14)

He goes on to describe how during summers they'd have to head out early in the morning and weed their 40 acre beet field and although it seemed a drudging task at the time he looks back on it with fond memories of his father and siblings helping each other finish their rows, water fights in the river when their work was finished, and occasional trips to the ice cream shop as incentive.

His writing reminds me of my own childhood which was also filled with plenty of family work projects such as canning fruits, freezing corn, doing yard work, and occasional trips to orchards or farms where we'd pick our own produce. Many of the same activities that he describes. Like him, I remember kind of hating it at the time, at least when I was first told what we were going to be doing. But Always once we had dug into the work it turned out to be a fun, enjoyable task. As Justin beautifully described in his writing, these "projects" provided opportunities for us as a family to work together, spend time together, and almost always laugh and play together simultaneously with the working. I can remember sitting next to my mother at the old, warped and weathered wooden picnic table on our back porch in the warm summer mornings peeling mushy peaches and smelling the wafting steam of warm, blanched-in-pillowcases fruit a few feet away on our outdoor camp stove while other siblings sat and chattered around and behind us, coming in and out of the house. Or the smell of sweet, starchy corn and the hum of the electric knife as we cut off the kernels, bagged, and froze them in our bottomless deep freeze. Or that time we drove out to an onion field, I think in Weiser, Idaho (same farming town Justin grew up in), and gleaned an onion field - I didn't know what gleaning was at that time and on the way there my mom explained to me that it was the same thing Ruth and Naomi did in the fields of Boaz. Or when we went to a local peach orchard and were each given our own harness/basket to wander around and pick our own peaches. I still remember the feeling of peach fuzz all over me. We did this at an apple orchard too, and brought the apples home and made Delicious apple sauce. Putting in our own sprinkler system in that giant back yard of our old house was a HUGE project. Digging trenches in the dry, hot summer air with sweat dripping down our faces still doesn't bring back the best of feelings, but the thought of us working together and accomplishing such a huge project does. (I guiltily admit that I didn't dig nearly as many trenches as most of my other siblings... somehow I managed to get out of it a lot).

Justin's words were a wonderful reminder to me of what great value lies in productive, large, family projects and gives me motivation to create such opportunities for my own family, down the road, to enjoy in the blessings of working together side by side. More and more these modern days, convenience and "quick" fixes are replacing such large and drawn out projects, but I hope that I can remember that its the process, not the end result, that is so important in harvesting a love, appreciation, and acceptance of hard and honest work as well as building and strengthening family relationships and creating fond family memories.