Category Archives: family dinner


Sometimes Dylan mixes up his prepositions when he talks.  For instance, he’ll say, “Mommy, are you happy at me?”  What he means is, “Mommy, are you happy with me?”  He usually says this after he’s gotten into trouble and wants my approval.

Here’s another one.  “I’m tired from doing this.”  What he means is, “I’m tired of doing this.”  He says this when he’s feeling lazy and doesn’t want to do stuff like put on his socks and shoes, practice his writing, or take a bath.

“Dylan talk” is endearing, but Mike and I are trying to put more effort into correcting him, which isn’t easy.  Another thing Dylan says a lot is, “Stop teaching me.”

Last night at dinner, he proved he’s been listening.

At least a few nights a week, I make a family dinner for the boys and me (Mike works too late to participate).  It’s an attempt to get them to eat dinner at the table instead of in front of the television or Xbox and an effort to get them to try new food.

My strategy with family dinner is simple.  I put a variety of new (hard) and friendly (easy) foods on the table and the boys can choose to eat or not eat whatever they want.  There’s no pressure, but they know there’s a reward for trying something new.  I even dimmed the lights and lit a candle for last night’s meal!  The menu included:

Macaroni & cheese

Chicken nuggets (two kinds)

Carrot sticks & hummus

Apple slices

French fries with ketchup and ranch for dipping

Yogurt covered pretzels

Yogurt squeezers

I know what you’re thinking: These are all friendly, kid foods!  Not in my house, my friends.  Riley sat down and began grazing immediately.  He ate some hummus, apples, chicken, and yogurt.  It wasn’t a big portion, but he tried a few different things. Conversely, Dylan pushed everything as far away from his plate as he could. Next, he smelled the macaroni & cheese with suspicion because I cooked a different shaped pasta than he usually eats (different pasta, same cheese sauce), and then he left the table.  He walked out on family dinner.

I’ve done a lot of reading on sensory issues and picky eating, and one thing I read time and time again is toavoid conflict at meal time.  It elevates anxiety and makes it even harder for a child try something new or eat at all.  As much as I wanted to force him to come back to the table (or lock him in a closet*), I kept my mouth shut.  Then I heard this from the other room:  “Mommy, I’m tired of you.”

Ouch.  What he meant was, “I’m tired of you trying to get me to eat new food.”  Ask anyone who knows me well and they’ll tell you how much I love and live for my kids, how heartbreaking it is to me that my child’s diet is so limited, and how desperately I want to help him overcome the physical and behavioral challenges that are keeping him from enjoying food.

As I sat at the kitchen table thinking about what just occurred and wondering what the hell to do next,  it occurred to me that although his words stung, at least he got the preposition right.

Riley, on the other hand, needs some coaching.  He got up from the table next, and as he left the room, a mischievous smile spread a across his face and he said, “Mommy, I’m tired from you.”  Thanks, Riley.  I’m tired, too.

p.s. Two hours later, Dylan tried the “new” macaroni and cheese, and after all the drama, he declared, “I love it.”  Was it a food victory?  Yes, but the path we took to get there didn’t feel victorious at all.

*Dear new readers, I would never actually lock my kids in a closet.   Or hurl them out a window or strangle them with floss.  (I may have written about these unpleasant thoughts in previous posts).  It’s just my way of expressing the emotions that some many all Mamas feel.  Don’t worry, I almost always feel guilty as soon as I say it.


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Filed under family dinner, food issues, guilt

Tools for 2012

1.    MacBook Air


This beauty arrived on Christmas morning.  (Thank you, Mike, I mean, Santa!)  I don’t have to share the computer – and the sticky keyboard and mouse – with the boys anymore, and if I ever run away I can easily blog from the road. I want to write A LOT this year, and I’m grateful I have this amazing tool to help me.  Which leads me to…

2.    Gratitude Journal

I’m still working on gratitude with the kids, and I’m pleased to report I’m making some headway.  Last weekend, Dylan and Riley filled a bag of toys to give away.  Of course, they did it to make room for new “Star Wars” toys (that was part of the deal), but they still did it and it was a step in the right direction.

I’m working on gratitude, too.

Yesterday my entry was: I’m grateful for family dinner.  You might want to sit down for this one.  I cooked dinner – baked salmon fillets and sautéed kale with garlic – after Mike got home from work and before we put the boys to bed.  The best part – besides how delicious it was – was that Riley “helped” me cook and both boys sat down with us while we ate.  Not surprisingly, Dylan wouldn’t taste anything, but he asked a lot of questions about the food.  Curiosity is a good thing!  Riley tasted the salmon…and liked it!

Tonight, I’m making cilantro lime shrimp burgers (courtesy of Whole Foods…yum), french fries and broiled asparagus.  I’ll let you know if the kids eat any of it.  Tomorrow, the boys will probably eat their usual macaroni and cheese and fruit on the couch because Mama is going out.  Which leads me to…

3.    Weekly Date

This is the New Year’s Resolution Mike made for me to have a night off each week to do something for myself.  Last week, I went to the mall one evening.  I know, it wasn’t very inspiring, especially for a Shopaholic Mama, but I had to return something (and, um, buy something), and it kept me out of the house until the bedtime antics were over.  Tomorrow, I’m headed to a book club dinner for “Room: A Novel” by Emma Donoghue.  (Yes, I read the whole book.)  Which leads me to…

4.    Read and Run

These are the tools that keep me away from the mall, relieve my anxiety and fuel my creativity.   Currently, I’m reading “The Art Of Racing In The Rain” by Garth Stein.  It’s wonderful and is making me fall in love with my dog all over again.

Next on my book list is “Is Everyone Hanging Out With Me? (And Other Concerns)” by Mindy Kaling.  I hear amazing things about it.  After that, it’s Tina Fey’s “Bossypants.”  I’m a reading machine!

And a running machine!  Well, sort of.   Lately, I’ve been going on twenty-minute runs.  It’s nothing impressive, but it’s enough to keep me healthy, sane, and inspired, which leads me back to the first tool on my list.

What are your tools to stay on track this year?

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Filed under books, exercise, family dinner, New Year's resolutions, Shopaholic Mama, writing

My Favorite Part of the Day

I started a family dinner ritual a little while ago in the hope of getting the boys to eat new food.  We haven’t had much any success yet, but we’ve developed a nice habit of talking about our day when we sit together.  The questions are always the same: What was your favorite part of the day?  What was your least favorite part of the day?

In the beginning, Dylan didn’t understand what “least favorite” meant.  He would say his favorite part of the day was playing with his friends and then he would say his least favorite part of the day was the same thing.  Riley didn’t get what any of it meant and would either repeat what Dylan said or smile and say, “Poopy pants.”

Eventually, Dylan understood that “least favorite” was different than “favorite.”  Then his answer would be something like: “My favorite part of the day was eating popsicles at school.  My least favorite part of the day was nothing.”  Nothing?  I guess life is good when you’re five.

Earlier this week, we had to runan errand in the afternoon that kept us in the car for a while, so that’s when we took turns talking about our day. Riley responded with his usual gobbledegook.  Dylan said his favorite part of the day was playing with his friends at school.  No surprise there.  Then, he said his least favorite part of the day was leaving school early.  It was the first time he expressed what “least favorite” really meant.

I haven’t written much about Dylan’ssensory processing issues lately.  For a while, it consumed me in a “least favorite” kind ofway.  Writing about it helped me and, I think, a few other readers out there, but I’m not sure it did much for Dylan.  This blog is an honest look at my life, but I want to make sure my kids’ privacy doesn’t become collateral damage (now or later) because of my desire to write about motherhood.  In the end, I decided to try to focus mywriting on other topics (there are so many!), like owls, holidays and peeing on trees.

But back to leaving school early…

Twice a week, I pick up Dylan from school an hour early to go to occupational therapy (OT) to work on his sensory issues.    There’s a waiting list for the coveted after school appointments, so until a later time slot opens up, I have to pull him from school.  Although he loves OT – it’s like having private playtime with the coolest toys on the planet – he doesn’t like leaving school. I don’t like having to do it either, but when I think about the positive changes we’ve seen in such a short period of time, I know we’re doing the right thing.

His listening skills have improved dramatically (except when he’s playing Lego Star Wars on the Xbox).  He’s more adventurous.  You should see him climb to the top of playground equipment and slide down (previously scary) tunnel slides with abandon.  He’s more confident and independent – “I can cross the street myself because I’m five!”  And here’s my favorite… He wears pants, long-sleeved shirts (with“Cars” or “Star Wars” graphics) and, if necessary, a jacket when it’s cold.  Look at what he wore to school one day this week…with a smile on his face!

We still have work to do (Operation Chicken 2012!) and I wish Dylan’s least favorite part of the day could always be “nothing,” but each time I witness him conquer a fear or try something new, I know exactly what I’m going to say at family dinner when it’s my turn to talk about my favorite part of the day.

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Filed under family dinner, Proud Mama, sensory processing disorder