Progress

Standard

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here on Betsy’s blog. She’s had a few weightier things to write about recently, and we thought it would be a good time to lighten the mood with a Lucas diet update! Back in June I wrote about our attempts to wean Lucas off of baby food. It’s really hard to believe that less than six months ago his diet consisted mostly of pureéd fruits and vegetables and liquefied chicken mixed with various baby cereals. A lot has changed since then and we’ve learned a lot about our boy in the process!

Lucas eats a lot of different foods.  He eats grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken quesadillas, cheeseburgers, beef empanadas, homemade chicken nuggets, pizza, kale chips, apples, bananas, grapes, oranges, peas, corn, green beans, carrots, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, avocado, broccoli, tomatoes, graham crackers…oh, and pancakes. That’s a pretty substantial list! We were worried that Lucas’s diet might not be as healthy after he transitioned to solid foods but so far that has not been the case. Grilled cheese is still his favorite!

It's a bird, it's a plane...no, it's Lucas eating a cheeseburger with a side of banana and cucumbers!

It’s a bird, it’s a plane…no, it’s Lucas eating a cheeseburger with a side of banana and cucumbers!

Gardening helps. Over the summer Betsy planted a garden and Lucas got really into it and helped water the plants and harvest the produce. His willingness to try something new seemed to increase if he had just picked it. His favorite? Kale! Betsy used to mix it into his “green” pureé but now Lucas prefers it in crunchy, chip-form.

So do Bubble Guppies. Bubble Guppies is one of Lucas’s favorite kid shows. There was an episode recently where the Guppies go to “Fruit Camp”and participate in a race with obstacles (i.e. trying new foods) along the way. Gil earns a point for the team by eating a carrot. Then Deema is faced with the last and most difficult obstacle: broccoli. She hesitates at first but tries it and finds that it’s “delicious!” Well, that was enough for Lucas to ask for some broccoli too. I’m not sure if he really likes it or if he only likes it because the Bubble Guppies like it. Either way, he’s added another healthy vegetable to his diet and, unfortunately, so have I.

Thanks a lot, Deema.

Thanks a lot, Deema.

Texture still matters. There have been some real head scratchers along the way. We experimented with some pretty tried and true kid favorites like macaroni and cheese and ravioli but Lucas really didn’t go for them. Strange because what kid doesn’t like macaroni and cheese? It turns out that he didn’t like the texture. Too rubbery? I’m not sure exactly. But the good thing is at age four we were able to have a conversation about it and we agreed that if he tried some other foods, we could replace ravioli with something that he liked better!

Appearance matters too. We’ve still had the occasional meltdown over food. A month or so ago Betsy and Lucas had come with me to a soccer game and we decided to go out for pizza afterwards. I was thrilled. For the longest time I had just wanted to have the freedom to leave the house and not worry about packing an entire meal of baby food to take with us. Lucas was excited too…until the pizza arrived. It had a much thicker crust than he was used to. It wasn’t quite deep dish but still it was different enough for him to deem it “not pizza”. After a lot of patience (from Betsy) and persuading (also Betsy) he did eat some of it. Since then we have limited our patronage to pizza joints that have a hand tossed crust option on the menu. 🙂

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree (again!). Lucas has absolutely no sweet tooth, just like his mother. Despite my best efforts, Lucas has zero interest in cookies, donuts, cake, or candy. For his birthday, I went all out and made a cake decorated with his favorite farm animals. I even made a frosting barn! Lucas admired the artwork but wanted nothing to do with eating it. Betsy was no help either. So I ate the whole thing myself (I’m not sure whether to feel proud or ashamed). One of Lucas’s little friends from church got him to try a cookie after the service one Sunday. He gave it the old college try but after a couple of bites he gave it to me to finish. He really doesn’t like sweets.

11873494_10207292005487953_3943589714524135772_n

My masterpiece: The Barnyard.

Traditions. The town I grew up in is about 15 minutes away from where we live now. There is a bakery in that town that is famous for its fresh baked German soft pretzels. They only make them on Saturdays. Lucas really likes his carbs and so one Saturday not too long ago I was determined to see if he would try a pretzel. He also likes salty things (just like his mother) so I thought it might work. Well, he was hooked after one bite. And it’s now become a weekly ritual. It’s great because it gives Betsy a chance to sleep in, Lucas and I have a fun morning out just the two of us, and then we all have soft pretzels as a late breakfast when we get home. We have the leftovers for breakfast on Sunday.

Saturday's new tradition!

Saturday’s new tradition!

All in all, Lucas has made a ton of progress and we are super proud of him! It’s been fun to see him try new things and like most of them. He even tried seaweed at preschool the other day! That’s right, my son prefers seaweed to cookies. Who would have ever guessed?

Advertisements

The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree

Standard

People say that you are like your parents and your children are like you. Of course each person is a unique, but it is undeniable that certain attributes get passed on from one generation to the next. Sometimes they are physical characteristics, other times they are personality traits. People are often proud if they pass on their height or their athletic prowess to their children. But there are also things that you wish your kid did not inherit, particularly when it’s an idiosyncrasy that you can’t blame on anyone but yourself.

Like father, like son. Crazy hair.

Like father, like son. Crazy hair.

Lucas has, for some time, struggled with eating. He has always been very particular about what he puts in his mouth. Our pediatrician reassured us that this was not unusual toddler behavior. She would probably find it even less peculiar if she had known me when I was Lucas’s age. I, too, was a picky eater. Legend has it that I was four years old before I knowingly ate a vegetable. Of course my mother did her duty, hiding puréed carrots and other veggies in my pasta sauce without my knowledge. But it would be an understatement to say that I was averse to trying new foods.

If not for my parents intervention, I would probably still be quite content with a diet consisting only of hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, and spaghetti. At some point, however, they decided that enough was enough. I was going to try new foods. It was painful. The first new food that I tried was strawberries. It went over pretty well. The second new food that I tried was peas. To this day it is one of my worst childhood memories and one of my least favorite foods! I probably sat at the table for three hours stubbornly refusing to eat the four green peas that were on my plate. Eventually frustration got the better of my poor mother, she plugged my nose to force me to open my mouth, and shoved in the peas! They stayed down for a good five seconds before my gag reflex took over, spewing those four little peas and whatever else I’d had for dinner all over me and the kitchen floor.

IMG_1506

Lucas sizing up peas for the first time.

IMG_1511

The jury is still out…

My mother has been very gracious about our current parenting predicament but I think privately she’s probably had more than one good, hearty chuckle. To be fair, Lucas is a much better eater than I ever was. From the beginning he has eaten a healthy variety of fruits (bananas, berries, apples, pears) and vegetables (kale, zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, sweet potatoes). He eats whole grains and lean protein (chicken and pork). What is the catch? Even at 3½ years old, he has insisted on eating these foods only in puréed form. He has consistently rejected solid foods, apart from a few exceptions. Our pediatrician encouraged us not to get frustrated about this considering that his diet was extremely healthy, even if the way in which he consumed those foods was a little unorthodox. After all he could be eating only hot dogs and macaroni…

IMG_0735[1]

Lucas with his cousins Joshy and Sophia, both baffled by Lucas’s complete lack of interest in the cookie he is holding.

Betsy has patiently followed this advice even though she was the one tasked with making Lucas’s baby food (no small endeavor!) for the last three years. I will admit to being more than a little frustrated on more than one occasion. I just wanted him to try something! A cracker, a cookie, anything! The most frustrating times were when we knew we’d be out of the house for meal time and would have to pack up an entire suitcase (slight exaggeration) of bottles and jars so that he could eat. I desperately wanted to be able to just go out to dinner and order him chicken nuggets off of a restaurant kids menu. No fuss. But Lucas was resolute. Maybe even a little stubborn…

IMG_1186[1]

Unwavering.

As with all things, it’s about timing. We wanted Lucas to try new foods but we also didn’t want to ram our heads against the wall. In the last several months Lucas has shown a lot of growth in other areas (potty training and sleeping in his own bed at night) and a lot more flexibility, in general; so we thought we might be close to a breakthrough on the food front as well. Then one day out of the blue, Lucas asked to try a carrot. He’s been enamored with carrots for a while, probably because they are his favorite color of orange. But he’s only ever pretended to eat them. Well, this day he ate one – one, tiny, miserable baby carrot! A few days later we were out of the ingredients to make his baby food so we decided to just take the plunge and try.

IMG_1236[1]

We could be here for a while…

It hasn’t been easy but it’s not been nearly as bad as we might have imagined. Lucas has tried a lot of new foods (and only puked a few of them back up)! Some of the foods he has loved, others he doesn’t care for as much. Sometimes it takes ages for him to work up the courage to open his mouth. Sometimes it takes silly songs or crazy antics to get him to try one bite. It often takes A LOT of wine for Betsy and I to get through the dinner hour with our sanity intact. But he is doing it!

IMG_1323[1]

Grilled cheese, apple slices, carrots, and potato chips. Progress!

The biggest breakthrough was the night that we all ate the exact same thing for dinner: homemade chicken tenders and fries, apple slices and carrots. I am really proud of Lucas. I’m also extremely relieved because deep down I’m pretty sure that he got his pickiness and stubbornness from me! Maybe in 25 or 30 years Lucas will have a son that isn’t too keen on trying new foods either. I can imagine myself saying to him, “Well, when you were his age…” I’ll be sure to do my chuckling behind closed doors.

A Shout Out (To Anyone Who Is or Was or Ever Will Be the Primary Care Giver to a Toddler)

Standard

There have been a handful of occasions since Lucas was born when Betsy has gotten sick and needed to take several days to rest and recover. We are really lucky to have all of my immediate family living within a 15 mile radius and we have been blessed with great friends who also live close by. We are extremely grateful for all of them and their willingness to pitch in and help look after Lucas when Betsy can’t (or shouldn’t).

Sometimes, however, the responsibility falls to me. I am thankful that, for the most part, I have a very flexible work schedule. I can stay home in the morning and work from home in the evening if Betsy needs a few extra hours of sleep. I get a lot of vacation days that I can use liberally. My boss is very understanding of Betsy’s health situation and both allows and encourages me to put my family first. Not everyone has that freedom.

So at the beginning of the month when Betsy got sick, I ended up taking off a Thursday, Friday, and Monday. It’s not easy taking over as the primary care giver for a three year old. Lucas and Betsy have their routines and places that they go and things that they do. I don’t always know how to play “the right way”. I think I do an okay job overall, though. I really do have a ton of fun when I spend the day with Lucas. He’s a laugh! But he is also pretty full on. FULL. ON. I am completely decimated at the end of a day of trying to wrangle that little round ball of toddler energy.

A momentary pause in the action.

A momentary pause in the action.

One of the days I was on the clock, I had to stop by the facility where the soccer teams that I coach train and play. After I was done in the office I took Lucas out on to one of the empty fields and messed around for a couple of hours. And when I say messed around, I mean we ran up and down the field, which is a good 70 yards, chasing and kicking Lucas’s green soccer ball and then tumbling to the ground as he imitated the big kids he sees when he comes to watch my games.

Another afternoon we went to Jungle Java, an establishment which offers an indoor jungle gym for the kids and the caffeinated nectar of the Java bean for the parents (much to Betsy’s chagrin, I’ve never picked up the coffee drinking habit). Jungle Java has become one of Lucas’s favorite places in town. Lucas is still not quite big enough to manage all of the ups and downs. He went in all by himself once and got stuck and since then I’ve had to follow him up to make sure he can traverse all the obstacles. There is a lot of squatting and climbing and hoisting and army crawling involved in an afternoon at Jungle Java.

Trying to keep up with Lucas in the maze of fun at Jungle Java.

Trying to keep up with Lucas in the maze of fun at Jungle Java.

On the Monday, a refreshingly warm day, we drove down to the Toledo Zoo which is another of Lucas’s favorite destinations. It’s a very walkable zoo. If you happen to be there with someone likes to walk, that is. Lucas, however, prefers to run from one exhibit to the next. And when he’s not running he’s usually riding perched up on my shoulders. It is definitely a work out!

Sometimes I get home from work and Betsy looks like she’s ready to pass out.  Even on days when they don’t have special events, there is still non-stop action. Apart from our outings, Lucas subjected me to an inordinate amount of good old rough-housing: incessant jumping and wrestling and tickling and laughing. Oh and Lucas loves to run laps around the dining room table. Did I mention that?

Life's a blur when your three!

Life’s a blur when you’re three!

It’s good for me to spend a day (or two!) in Betsy’s shoes because it reminds me of what a big task she has on her hands on a daily basis. How my mother did it with four or how my mother-in-law did it with six or how my sister does it with three, I’ll never know. My guess is that there must have been a secret bottle of whiskey stashed away somewhere.

So if you are a mother or a father (this is 2015 after all!) that stays home with your young children – I salute you! And to my lovely wife who chases after our own stampeding toddler day in and day out – you are my hero!