How I'm Feeding My Kids Differently in 2014 by Real Mom Nutrition

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions (beyond a flimsy promise to “drink more water” which always fizzles out by January 3rd). But recently, I read about a concept of assigning “themes” to the year instead, and that seems much more doable. Besides, thinking in broader concepts instead of narrow action items is a nice change of pace for this serial to-do-list maker. So while I’m still mulling over my personal themes for 2014, I decided to focus a few on how I feed my kids, since there’s always room for improvement in that department.

Here are the three themes I chose:

1. Balance.

Perhaps it’s because we’re crawling out from underneath an avalanche of holiday goodies (many of which were from my own kitchen), but I’m convinced we need to scale back on sugar in our house. Ideally, I like to limit sweet treats to no more than one a day and let my kids choose when they want it. In reality, this strategy fails more frequently than it works. My love for baking combined with sugary foods seemingly everywhere in my children’s lives–from school breakfast to the dry cleaner–conspires to over-sweeten our diets. It’s time to get back on track.

2. Adventure.

We recently took the kids to a Japanese steakhouse for the first time. They were thrilled with all the fire and spatula-tossing antics, my fourth grader ate two bowls of miso soup, and I was reminded that we don’t take nearly enough culinary risks when eating out, even though we live in a city with all kinds of restaurants. In 2014, I’d like to give the kids more exposure to different cuisines, instead of relying on the familiar. They may not like every meal, but they’ll probably surprise us too.

3. Independence.

I am intent on raising Men Who Can Cook. But too often, I let my desire to fix dinner quickly (read: have 30 minutes to myself in the kitchen and not create a huge mess) nix any plans to involve my boys in meal prep. That needs to change. I’m inspired by Brianne DeRosa of Red, Round or Green, whose boys (ages 7 and 4) cook dinner for the family once a week with very little help (read all about it and see one of their meals here). I’d also like to get my kids more involved in packing their lunches and fixing their own snacks, not just to lighten my own load but also to give them tools they’ll need as they get older.

How about you: What would you like to change about how you feed your kids in the coming year?


Why You Should Cut Your Mother-in-Law a Break

by Sally on November 26, 2013

Why You Should Give Your Mother-in-Law a BreakWhen hanging out with a group of fellow moms, there’s only so long you can go before someone starts complaining about their mother-in-law.

Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes there are legitimate grievances (“She told me I’m a bad parent and a terrible cook!”). But more often than not, the complaints feel a little thin (“Can you believe it? She bought my son ‘Pat the Bunny’ two years in a row!“).

Complaining about one’s mother-in-law has probably been going on as long as there have been mothers-in-law. It’s a timeworn sitcom device (remember Marie Barone, meddling MIL to long-suffering Debra on “Everybody Loves Raymond”?). It’s also a conversational crutch among moms. Everyone’s one-upping each other with mother-in-law stories and you might as well chime in with one too, right?

Grousing about grandmas tends to increase around the holidays. Maybe she gives your kids candy and too much whipped cream on their pie, maybe she offers them some kind of drink that contains high fructose corn syrup. She may fuss over your husband like he’s her baby (because, after all, he is). And she might say something that would make an awfully good MIL story for your next mom’s night out.

I know some of you may have serious family issues. I also know that if grandma is your regular babysitter, it’s totally reasonable to address things like candy consumption or whether you’re okay with your kids having soda. But I’m just asking you to consider whether the little gripes–the ‘Pat the Bunny’ gripes–are really worth griping about after all.

I am lucky. My mother-in-law is a first-rate grandma. Her eyes light up at the sight of my kids. She listens with rapt attention to Sam’s detailed retelling of “The Empire Strikes Back”. She’s the only one–besides my husband and my own mother–who would not only endure lengthy accounts of potty training but also actually seem interested.

And at some point, it also occurred to me: As the mother of two boys, it’s possible that I could someday have two daughters-in-law. And it’s very possible (read: guaranteed) that I will occasionally say and do the wrong things. I’m sure I’ll call my son too frequently. I’ll ask too many questions when they buy their first house or change jobs. I’ll most likely make a passive-aggressive comment about my grandbaby not wearing a hat in this chilly weather. And there’s no question that I will dole out some kind of unsolicited feeding advice that will, by then, be considered antiquated. I’ll think I’m doing it because my heart is full of love and I mean well. But my daughter-in-law may not always see it that way.

When I do all of this, I really hope my she doesn’t pull away, taking my son and grandkids with her. I hope she doesn’t use my words against me when she’s having coffee with her mom friends and everyone starts dissing their mothers-in-law. I hope she cuts me a break. Because I swear, my future grandma self is only doing it because her heart is full of love. And she means well, she really does.


10 Food-Free Ways to Celebrate School Birthdays

October 28, 2013

I love cupcakes as much as the next person. I have sweet memories of the birthday cupcakes my mom made for me when I was a child (read “For the Love of Cupcakes“), and I’m sure that some years, she brought those cupcakes to school. But for better or worse, cupcakes at school are on […]

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One Of The Best Things You Can Do On A Sunday

September 3, 2013

If you read my last post, you may be thinking that by “one of the best thing you can do” I mean “go to yoga class” or “ignore the mountains of laundry and snuggle with your kids” (read “A Back-To-School Pledge To Myself“). And yes, do those. And go to religious services. Or watch football. […]

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Let Them Eat Cupcakes

July 1, 2013

I was at a party recently with other families. It was a potluck, and the food was on a buffet. Someone had brought mini cupcakes and put them on the table along with the rest of the food. So when the kids went down the line with their paper plates, guess what they wanted? Mini […]

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For the Love of Cupcakes

April 19, 2012

I still remember the cupcakes my mother made for me on my 5th birthday. She arranged them on a tray and used frosting to write one letter on each cupcake, spelling out “HAPPY BIRTHDAY SALLY” ( if you look closely at the photo, you can see the little boy on the right has the “D”). […]

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My Kid Likes Junk Food. And That’s Okay.

April 11, 2012

When Henry was two years old, we were out with another mom and her child when Henry pointed to a vending machine and squealed, “Pepsi!” I was horrified. I fell all over myself explaining that Henry had never tasted soda and we didn’t keep it in the house and he never saw commercials so I […]

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Soccer Mom on a Mission: The Music Video!

March 5, 2012

By now, most of you know that I get a little feisty about soccer snacks. And t-ball snacks. (Read “Soccer Mom Soapbox” and “That Mom: The Sequel“). I know a lot you feel the same way. (Though some of you don’t.) Last fall, I decided to start documenting the snacks I was seeing on the sidelines of […]

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Lessons Learned From The No Added Sugar Challenge (And Why It Didn’t End With Cupcakes)

March 2, 2012

When I embarked on the Two Week No (Added) Sugar Challenge, I thought it would be one of the hardest changes I’ve made. Instead, it was one of the easiest. Easier than exercising every day. Easier than not eating at my computer. So easy that when I hit the two week mark on Wednesday, I […]

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The No (Added) Sugar Challenge Shocker!

February 20, 2012

This is not as hard as I thought it would be. Day one: Rough. Day two: One mammoth, splitting, day-long headache. The rest of the week: No problem. I even went out of town to a friend’s surprise birthday party, where I was faced with almond cake with buttercream frosting and molten-lava chocolate brownies with […]

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