Friday, January 24, 2020

Happy 6th Birthday Piper

January 13, 2020

Dear Piper,

Wow, it's 2020! I can't believe it. You are 6 years old today! What an amazing 6 years we have had with you. I am so proud of the little girl you have become, and I look forward to the years to come. 

This year you graduated pre-K and started Kindergarten! This was really hard for Mommy and Daddy. We were not ready for this transition, and I will admit, that you struggled a tiny bit as well. Your brother Dylan also graduated high school the same time you graduated Pre-K. Can't believe how grown up you two are now!

After the initial jitters of the first day of Kindergarten, though, you couldn't wait to go back! Now, you cry if you have to miss school when you are sick! You are one of smartest girls in your class. You love your teacher, Miss Erickson. You are such a good helper! You love to answer questions, and to help other students at your table. You have learned so much in just half a school year, and I know you will continue to amaze us as the year goes on. 

You are really doing well at learning to read. You are an expert at sight words, and are really learning how to sound things out. You love to tell me what signs say as we are out and about or in the car. Now, if you could just learn to tie your shoes!

This year you switched from gymnastics to cheer leading. I'll admit that this made me very happy since I was too a cheerleader! Your team even earned an award at your very first cheer competition. You looked adorable in your uniform, and made so many friends! I hope you will all grow up together through cheer and be life long friends.

You recently started girl scouts as well, and are really enjoying it! I know we will all love the cookies that we have ordered to support you! Your favorite is Thin Mints and Samoas. 

Your best friend is still Rylee. Even though you two don't go to the same elementary school, we have found ways to see her almost weekly. You two did cheer together and now take a tumbling glass. You also had your first sleepover this weekend for your birthdays. I love watching you two together, even when you bicker like siblings. 

In the past year you have gone so many places. You took a trip to Virginia again, and spent some time in Washington, D.C. as well. You enjoyed the Air and Space Museum, even if you did fall asleep in the planetarium. You went to the White House and stood in the exact spot where the Presidents have given famous speeches for decades! It was so cool! You also visited the capital building and the library of congress!

This year you took 2 cruises. You visited Puerto Rico--twice, St. Thomas, St. Kitts, St. Martin, and the Dominican Republic. You love cruises, and would prefer this type of vacation. You keep asking to go on another one. You enjoy getting ice cream at night with daddy, and going to the thrill theater to see 4d movies. You even made a really good friend on our cruise this summer, Zoey! You and daddy won a scavenger hunt on our summer cruise and earned medals and trophys. You are competitive just like Daddy!

Finally, we took a much awaited trip back to Disney. This was your 4th trip, and by far your best. You were tall enough to ride just about everything, and you were such a dare-devil, and rode everything at least once! We were so proud! You didn't care as much for the characters as you used to. You said, "they are just people in costumes." How smart you are!

This year we also moved into a brand new house. We have enjoyed decorating your room together. You even have a few friends your age in the neighborhood. You can't wait to get home each afternoon to play at Tambrey's house! We are so glad that you have made so many friends this year. 

Your favorites have really been changing this year. You love your new American Girl Doll, Blaire. She sleeps in your bed every night. You also love Legos-- I wonder if you'll be an architect one day. Your favorite show is Boy Meets World. You have watched the whole series, and just started it over. You are obsessed and often quote different scenes. You love Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez music, but you also can belt some 311 with your daddy. Your favorite some right now is The Middle by Maren Morris--you are so cute singing it in the back seat of the car!

Happy Birthday baby girl! With each new age there is more for me to love about you. You are so beautiful. I envy your long thick hair! But what is really beautiful is how you love and treat your friends. You are so caring, and protective of your friends. I hope you always stay that way!

So here's to you baby boo! I hope you got everything that you wanted, and that this year is your best yet! I can't wait to make a bunch of new memories with my favorite silly face selfie partner. 


Sunday, January 13, 2019

Happy 5th Birthday Piper!

January 13, 2019
Dear Piper,

Today is your 5th birthday! I remember when you were one month old and I cried as I wrote your one month old birthday letter. I can not believe that I am sitting here now writing your 5th birthday letter. It amazes me how fast it has all gone by, and what a wonderful life we have built together as a family!

You are the apple of our eye, the most beautiful moment to each and every day. Your personality is all your own now. You have so much to say, and you rarely miss a moment to let me know exactly what you are thinking. You are a prankster! You love to play, Which hand is it in? You love to laugh at Daddy's jokes, dance funny dances, and have a silly face selfie session with Mommy.

You are a sensitive gal, though. you love big, and your feelings can get hurt pretty easily. You love all of your friends, and you want to help them whenever you can.

You are still doing gymnastics, and are getting pretty good at it. You love the balance beam, and are even trying to talk us into installing one in our house so that you can practice more. You got a frozen bicycle for your birthday, and are so excited to learn how to ride it. You are my little daredevil.

Speaking of daredevil, a few weeks ago you got your ears pierced. This is something that I knew that yo had wanted to do, but you had been too scared for a long time. One day, you just woke up and made that decision. You were stoic in the store, and only cried for a little bit. We are now waiting until we can change into the unicorn earrings that you picked out for when your ears are healed. 

Your favorite thing to do is play board games with us. We have played so many rounds of your new LOL Surprise game since you got it for Christmas. Speaking of LOL Surprise, they have been your favorite toy of this year. You know all of the cool toys because you love to watch a YouTube show where little girls open and play with toys. I don't understand it, but it is your thing!

Yesterday we had your birthday party. It was a girly spa LOL Surprise party. All of your girlfriends came and got their toes and nails painted. You all got your hair done and facials too! We then celebrated with the family at Mellow Mushroom. you love to have sleepovers at Glammy and G-Daddy's house, and Memo and Grampa's house as well. You love to play hard with your Uncle Matt and brother, Dylan.

This past year we didn't go on as many trips as in the past, but you did have one marathon trip to Virginia. This year we took you to visit our nation's capital at Washington, D.C. You saw all of the monuments and played in the museums. Your favorite part was going in the butterfly room at the Natural History Museum. We also visited some caverns. You went on an obstacle course, and you mined for precious gems. Then we took you to the Virginia coast to visit mommy's friends from college, Che and Brandon. You loved playing the Colton and Hollis, and we went to the beach!

You are really starting to blossom in school this year. You are doing great with your sight words. You love to do your homework for Pre-K, and your teacher is still Ms. Megan. In August you will start Kindergarten, and I hope that you grow to love it as much as you have loved Camden Academy over the last few years. I can't believe this has come so fast, but I am excited for all that you will learn in the future.

Happy Birthday baby girl! You are the perfect addition to our family. We love you more than all the stars in the sky! I hope you know how much we adore you. Daddy and I are having a hard time with you growing up so quickly, so please be gentle on us if we have a hard time letting you go. Always remember that we love you first, and that our only wish is for you to be safe and happy. I promise to try my very best to make sure that that is exactly what happens.

I love you, Always,

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Top 5 Parenting Mistakes I'm Making

A week ago I went to my daughter's 4 year check-up (only 4 months late, but who's counting). At this check-up I had a host of concerns and questions for P's doctor. Most of them were behavioral questions. These questions stemmed from issues that we have been having with our little Princess at home. As I was asking each question and she was addressing them--I already knew the conclusion. These were not problems with my child. They were weaknesses within my parenting.

I'm not afraid to admit that I'm not the perfect mother. I make mistakes each and every day. If you think you are perfect, then you are not being honest with yourself. Ultimately my daughter's doctor was helping me realize that a lot of the issues that I was having with my daughter were a direct result of things that I could change with parenting strategies.

I want to also point out that there were many suggestions that she made that I was already doing, but that were not fully effective because I was having a hard time following through. That can be the toughest part of parenting--consistency. Which leads me to number 1.

1. I'm not always consistent, and my husband and I are not always on the same page with discipline

My daughter has clearly learned that I am the easier parent to manipulate, and she is exploiting that on a daily, if not hourly, basis. Her doctor was explaining to me that by giving in to her and by being the "good cop" I was actually doing her a disservice. I do not want to create a situation later in our relationship where she thinks it is ok to walk all over me. That is not teaching her to respect me to other adults in her life.

But I don't always want to deal with punishments in the same manner as my husband. But I do understand how this can be confusing for a four year old. She needs consistent feedback on her actions, so that she knows the consequences before she acts.

2. My time out strategy was weak and inconsistent.

I kinda had a feeling that his was the case. When your kid voluntarily goes to time out without much of a fuss--you know that it is not a good sign. At the end of every time out I was spending time talking it out with P. I was explaining to her what she did wrong. We ended everything with an apology and hugs and kisses. Ultimately, the doctor helped me realize that my child is throwing tantrums out of a desire for more attention from me. So when I was putting her in time out--it was actually what she wanted. She knew at the end that she would get that undivided attention with hugs and kisses at the end. I don't know how I hadn't figured that out. I was actually reinforcing the bad behavior! It hit me like a ton of bricks.

Instead of addressing the behavior in time out. I will now try to address it at a separate time, so that she is not earning attention by behaving badly. It is a separate conversation.

The doctor suggested doing time out for 4 minutes (which is what I was already doing), but she suggesting putting P in an old car seat in the corner and strapping her in. This is genius. She also suggesting doing it without making eye contact or saying a word. Just pick her up, strap her in, set the timer and walk away.

3. I was enabling my kid's emotional outbursts

One of my biggest concerns that I addressed at the doctor was how much more emotional my child seemed in the last few weeks. Every little thing would result in a fit of tears. Things that were small and wouldn't have caused a massive scream attack before--were big deals now. I just didn't understand why this was occurring.

So the doctor asked my about what was spurring these outbreaks (mostly simple things like her stubbing her toe, someone telling her no, or spilling a tiny drop of milk on the table). She then talked about how I responded to them (usually by picking her up and consoling her). The doctor suggested that I might be enabling these outbursts by coddling my child. While I don't want to be cold with her, I do want her to be able to control her emotions. She suggested that I stop responding all together. To not make eye contact, touch, or talk to P when she has one of these fits unless I feel that she really has hurt herself. If it persists and becomes an all out tantrum, to then put her in timeout. It's just so hard to hear your baby cry, no matter the age.

4. She needs more sleep

P's doctor is a stickler about sleep. When we first starting talking about behavioral issues that was the first question, "what time does she go to bed every night?" busted!! We are in this stage where my child is trying to drop her afternoon nap. At home she really just won't do it. But the doctor was explaining that children at 4 years old still need 12 hours of sleep at night. I KNOW! It's so hard for working parents to get this accomplished. If I put her to bed too early--then I don't get to see her hardly. If I put her to bed too late--then she doesn't want to get up in the morning, and we are all late. It's so tough. But again, if we want to have a happy girl--we need her to be rested. So back to being the bedtime nazi I guess. It's harder on me than it is on her.

5. I need to be more present

I love blogging, and part of that is social media. But it is hard to find enough hours in the day to do everything well. Be a good teacher, wife, and mom and grow a blog following. But I am realizing that a lot of the issues we have are attention related. My child wants to be around me, and I am not always present. She is responding to that.

So it was a gut wrenching epiphany. One day soon--she will not want to hold my hand, or play a game with me, or lay on the couch and watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And on that day--I will mourn for the dozens of days when I asked her to play alone or to give me a few minutes so I could post on Instagram--because these moments I will never get back.

So these will be the things that I will be working on over the next few months. What about you? What parenting mistakes are you guilty of?

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Juice Plus: Why We Use It

Today I want to talk about something that is a top priority in my life. My family's health! About two years ago I went to see my child's doctor, I was fed up with my picky two year old (at the time). I was looking for ways to ensure that she would get the nourishment that she needs. Since she wouldn't eat veggies or meat--I was desperate. My daughter's doctor gave me a few suggestions. We tried most of them, but my picky eater wouldn't go for those options either. I was fed up. That's when I came to the last suggestion on the list--Juice Plus. I bit the bullet and ordered the gummies for my daughter. At first, my picky eater liked them, and then went through a phase where she wouldn't take them. Nig surprise, right?

I just thought it was another tactic that wouldn't work for her. BUT after talking with her doctor again--she recommended that I start taking the gummies. AND that worked like a charm. I made sure that I took them in front of my daughter everyday for a few days. Each time, I made a big deal about how yummy they were. Eventually, she started asking for them at dinner every night. The rest is history. We have been hooked on Juice Plus ever since. Now I take the capsules as well.

Let me say that I am usually a pretty cynical. I can be overly critical. I would be willing to bet that a lot of moms reading this post right now feel the exact same way. You will ask yourself...does this really work? What is the big deal? Why is this different from any other supplement that is out there? I totally understand your cynicism. I was there in the beginning too.

Let me also tell you that I am not a salesperson. I do not wish to track you down and annoy you with sales pitches. I am just a mom that really struggled with her child's nutrition (and it turns out my own as well). As a blogger, I am in the habit of sharing those things that really work for me, and this has really worked my me and my kid! If you think it would work for you, then great. I would love to share more information with you. If not, then you are free to keep it moving! But for now, here are reasons that we use this product.

1. It is a way to get fruits and veggies in my body and my child's body that we ordinarily wouldn't eat each day

While Juice Plus is not a substitute for actually eating. I can feel better each day when my child refuses to eat lunch at school that she has had 48 different fruits, vegetables, and grains through her Juice Plus gummies, and has received the same naturally occurring vitamins and antioxidants from the gummies.

2. It is NOT a supplement

I am not a supplement person. So this was a huge point for me with Juice Plus. Juice Plus has a nutrition label because it is food. It is not a medicine or a supplement. It is literally juicing done for you. When I look at the nutrition facts on the label I am able to see and understand what all of the ingredients are.

3. It is safe for kids, breastfeeding women, and pregnant women

Since Juice Plus is veggie and fruit juice capsules or gummies--it is totally safe for kids, nursing, and pregnant moms. This was a huge sticking point for me as well. I don't want to have to worry about my kid getting into the gummy bag and overdosing. It is completely safe.

4. There are multitudes of studies online

When we first started Juice Plus I took a look at the multitudes of clinical research findings online. As a responsible parent, I wanted to do my research, even though common sense told me that increasing the amounts of fruit and veggies in my body and my child's body would have positive outcomes. The research I read showed that the use of fruit/veggie/berry juice capsules were shown to decrease the harmful cholesterol in healthy adults. Since my heart health and the heart health of my family is a concern--this was huge for me.

5. It may help support the immune system

The year before we started taking Juice Plus--my daughter missed 11 days of daycare (school). The next year while taking Juice Plus--she missed 4. That was incredible. Whether or not it was due to Juice Plus entirely--I will take it. Here is a link to a study on how JP may support the immune system.
As a teacher--I hate missing days, so I believe that Juice Plus is worth it for this reason alone.

6. It has helped my daughter and me out with constipation

This may be TMI, but my daughter had the worst constipation issues, but I find myself reaching for the miralax a lot less frequently.

Overall, this whole plant based nutrition has given me peace of mind. I truly feel that it will lead us to a better quality of life with fewer sick days, and stronger bodies. If you would like more information reach out to me on social media or via email here. You can also find more information on the Juice Plus Website

What do you use for nutrition in your family? What works for your picky eaters?

Monday, April 2, 2018

Our Interfaith Family: How we respect both sides

Hey Y'all! Happy Passover AND Happy Easter!

This past weekend it was one of those rare times where both faiths were celebrating major holidays in the same weekend. It can be a  logistical nightmare, and it can be confusing for the kiddos. So I thought I would tell all of you how we manage it in our house, just in case you have a similar situation.

It can be difficult in any relationship when your backgrounds or cultures are different--much less when you throw in different religious backgrounds as well. My husband and I walk a very cautious line around the holiday seasons of trying to honor both families, backgrounds, and cultures. It has been a learning process over our last 6 years together.

My husband's family is originally from New York, and they are Jewish. My family has been in the South since the late 1700's and we are Baptist. For the most part, I feel that we do a good job of trying to incorporate both families and their religious beliefs to the best of our abilities. BUT I will admit that our daughter, does seem to have some confusion when it comes to the two different religions. At four years old--she doesn't see the separation. She just thinks that it is all a part of one religion. I am not so sure that this is a bad thing, either. I assume at one point that she will pick it apart and realize that there are two very different, yet equally wonderful set of traditions that she is lucky enough to be a part of.

When my husband and I were planning our wedding--this was the first time that I remember feeling that the differences between or two families were a bit overwhelming. When we first starting dating, the differences seemed really small, and nothing to worry about for the future. However, when I realized that having a minister preside over our wedding ceremony would be offensive to my husband's family--it was a bit hard to wrap my head around. While I understood it--it didn't match with the picture of my wedding that I had in my head from when I was a little girl.

My husband, and I ultimately decided to keep religion out of our wedding almost entirely. There were a few small exceptions--the breaking of a glass during the ceremony and the use of Jesu Joy as I walked down the aisle. Other than that we left it completely neutral. We felt that the use of any more religious matters would be seen as too "jewish" or too "christian" by the opposite families respectively. This was the only way that we knew to accommodate everybody--we essentially accommodated nobody. I still stand by that decision and feel that it was the best way for us.

Now that we have a child together--that line once again often gets blurry. It can be hard to avoid the clashing of different holidays, and often one side is forced to compromise. It's a work in progress, and probably always will be. Ultimately, I feel that it comes down to a relationship of cooperation. Both my husband and I are more than willing to incorporate parts of each religious teaching in the raising of our daughter. It's a credit to our communication from the very beginning of our parenting relationship.

In many ways I feel that our daughter is lucky for getting to experience and learn a little about each religion. Ultimately, I feel that her religious knowledge will surpass many of her friends because she will  be exposed consistently to both.

Here is the hard part, though. In order to truly respect each side--we have chosen to raise our daughter in the same way that we chose to run our wedding--sans religion. I know that this would be impossible for some couples. BUT for us--it really seemed to be the only option. In order to respect both of our backgrounds--we do not subscribe or define ourselves by EITHER religion. We celebrate the holidays of both religions. Passover and Easter, Hanukkah and Christmas. We celebrate them both, and we don't explain that there is a difference. We feel that the failure to give a distinction, prevents our perspective biases from coming through on our daughter.

It is a natural inclination for a parent to want to introduce religious teachings to their children, and it is something that happens in our home from time to time. My daughter recites the Jewish prayers at Hanukkah and she goes to church on Easter every year. But it stops there. We do not go in depth. There is no real religious education beyond surface level.

When we were engaged we talked candidly about religion and how we were going to raise our children. This is a MUST for any interfaith family. We knew we had to have an understanding from the very beginning, and that is what we have. The decision was made it let our children choose. So we present both sides at a surface level. Both parents participate in the other parent's religious holidays. The number one rule is that you do not delve into religious philosophy.

For example, my daughter has heard the name Jesus. She has been to church on Easter, but I don't talk about him at home. I have never told her the story of Jesus's birth, or of his life, or of his death. Whatever she learns in the one time that she goes to church each year--she learns. BUT I am not going to teach those things in the home. If one day she comes to me and tells me that she wants to go to church more and she wants to learn more--then we will approach that as a family. However, in order to respect both side--neither side promotes their perspective religion.

The same goes for my husband. I would have no problem if my daughter went to synagogue with my husband or his family. I don't have a problem with her participating in ceremonies or saying Jewish prayers. BUT we are not going to delve further until/unless she comes to us one day and wants to learn more. When holiday's overlap like they did this weekend--we do both to the best of our abilities.

In the end, it all comes down to a level of mutual respect. We respect each other's backgrounds and family's beliefs. We would each be fine if our child chose either religion, or none at all. To us it would make no difference.

How do you handle different backgrounds or religions in your family?

Monday, March 26, 2018

Tips for dealing with a strong willed child

As previously mentioned--I am a strong believer in the idea that you get back what you gave your parents. As a child, I was definitely strong willed. My father worked out of town during the week, so it was just me and mom a lot of the time. As sad as it is to say--I know that I got away with a lot because she was just too tired to fight with me. Now that I am a mom, I feel her pain from way back then. I still don't know how she did it.

This time of year in our household is crazy. My husband is a soccer coach and he coaches two teams. This means that he is not home very much during the week. It is pretty much just me and P most nights. My husband is definitely more of the disciplinarian in our home, so I can see that P definitely tries to push the envelope more with me. She's a smart girl that understands the strategy of divide and conquer.

In general the kid is just strong willed. She knows what she wants and she will not back down. Here are a few things that I have found that help with her. My hope is that they might work with your child as well. By all means, though, we are still working. It is a process.

1. Know when to negotiate, but be careful
A long time ago I wrote a post on dealing with tantrums. In that post I talked about how I use positive reinforcement (aka bribery) with my child. To this day that is one of my most read posts. You can check it out here. While I still believe in positive reinforcement--I do think that it can be a slippery slope as your child gets older. You want to find a balance on using rewards for good behavior without it becoming the only way you can get said good behaviors. Once this starts to happen--it really isn't good for parent or child. It's time to use some fresh tactics.

We often negotiate with our daughter over small things like screen time (one more minute) or number of bites she has to eat of peas--but not over more important things like baths or bedtimes. I think that drawing that line in the sand also sends a message to your child about priorities.

2. Pick your battles
This is in almost every parenting post that I write. Every. Single. One. I cannot stress enough how much I believe in this. There are just some days, and just some times where the fight is not worth it. I believe in readdressing that behavior later. For instance--I will always try to diffuse situations in the morning because we simply do not have time to fight it out. I would much rather address that issue on a weekend morning where the message is still clear, but we are not all late for work! Bottom line is that you know your kid, and you know their breaking point. You want to walk that fine line of addressing the issues without demoralizing them completely for the day.

My favorite tactic for this is to address the same few behaviors at a time. This weekend we were working on defiance. Every time she told us no--we addressed it. That was our focus. While we certainly addressed other behaviors here and there. We were more willing to let a few slide to prevent our daughter from reaching the point of total frustration. More than a few times at least.

3. Choose a punishment and stick to it
This can be hard for many parenting teams. Different parents have different punishments that they like. Whether you believe in spanking or not--find a strategy that you can both get behind and use it consistently. In our house we are really trying to focus on time out. I have noticed that it does make a difference. The key is to be consistent.

4. Use negative reinforcement
A lot of parents don't like negative reinforcement, but for a particularly strong willed child like my own--I do think that it is necessary. My daughter is currently going through an overly emotional phase. Any time that we tell her no, or she thinks that we have raised our voices at her (what she considers yelling is not yelling to me), she will cry. This is not acceptable behavior. She needs to be able to deal with redirection.

Once we have done time out several times and cycled through our other tactics--the negative reinforcement is the last strategy I reach for. The key with this strategy is to use what your child likes the most. My kid loves stuffed animals. She sleeps with about 30 of them--seriously! So last night when she cried when I asked her to pick up her socks, I took all of her animals and threw them in the hallway. She was forced to sleep the whole night without them. May sound mean, but it is SOOOO effective!

5. Keep the lines of communication consistent
The key to any good strategy with behavior is to communicate the reasons for the punishment to your child. You want to do so calmly and clearly. This is best done after they are calm. My preferred method of delivery is at the end of time out right before you release them to play again. This is usually after they have calmed down, yet they are eager to listen because they want to go play.

You want to keep your voice calm, yet firm. I also like to use the same wording each time. My speech usually starts something like this:

"Piper, do you understand why you were sent to time out?"
"Why was that not a good choice?"
"What do you need to do in the future?"

At the end I always make sure to tell her that I love her, and I only want to keep her safe. We then end the discussion with hugs and kisses. It is the same every time, and I believe that this consistency is key.

6. Make sure you address when they are doing things well
This is the tactic that I struggle with the most. As parents, I feel that it is easy to get caught up in the negative, and so hard to focus on all of the things that our children are doing right every day. AND that is really sad! This is something that I am trying to work on. Ultimately, at 4 years old, my daughter does want me to be proud of her, and I know that this can be a big tool that I can use to help reinforce good behavior in the future. It's as simple as complimenting her use of manners when saying. "excuse me." I am making that my goal for this week!

How do you deal with your strong willed child? Tell me in the comments!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Tips for Dealing with Picky Eaters

Growing up I was a self proclaimed picky eater. I didn't like very much, and didn't try new things often...if ever. Because of my pickiness I knew that I would have a picky child. I am big believer in the idea that you get back what you give your parents. daughter is SUPER picky.

Here's a quick list of what my daughter will eat:
loaf bread
peanut butter
french fries
apples and applesauce
water melon
cream cheese
plain bagels
spaghetti noodles with butter or plain marinara sauce
kraft style macaroni and cheese
popcorn shrimp
Chick-fil-a chicken nuggets (she doesn't like them very much. I have to force her to eat them!)
english peas

that is it. Really. I swear. It's not very much at all, and it can really get me worried on a daily basis. I mean, what child doesn't like Chick-fil-A? It's almost sacrilegious in my neck of the woods. The even sadder part is that it has really gotten a whole lot better since I have implemented a few new tools into our lives over the last 6 months. Want to hear what has helped my picky eater?

1. Stop avoiding the problem!
For the longest time--I just avoided the issue by making her food that I knew she would eat. This meant that I was cooking her a separate meal every meal from the rest of the family. This is just not practical. This also meant that I was packing her lunches and dinners when we ate out--that is even more impractical, not to mention embarrassing!

After consulting my daughter's doctor we decided that something had to change! We stopped the avoidance immediately and prepared for all out war--and it was NOT easy! She put up a good fight, but I had some other tricks up my sleeve. Ultimately, I realized that I was exhausting myself, and I was doing my child a major injustice at the same time.

2. Provide incentives
This is one of the best tools that I have found to work with my picky eater. I recommend that you use what your child does like and make it into a reward for eating the other items on the plate. This could be a dessert, piece of candy, jello, or fruit. Whatever your picky eater likes--use it as a reward for eating those things that they do not like. My daughter has a major sweet tooth, and she loves cookies. I will put Oreos on her plate, but she has to eat all the other items on her plate before she can eat the Oreos.

3. Choices
I have noticed that my daughter is more likely to eat something when she has chosen it. When I am picking out what to make for dinner I will let her make decisions. It's something as simple as green beans or carrots? She is less likely to throw down with me if she makes the choice. Obviously you want the choices to be equally healthy or disliked for this tip to be effective.

4. Get peer help
My daughter would never eat pizza until Halloween when we went over to her bestie's house, and that is what they provided for dinner. Since her friend was eating it--she was excited to do the same. Ever since she has done much better with Pizza!

5. The bite technique
One technique that is an oldie but a goodie is the bite trick. For the things that my daughter really dislikes I give her a small number of bites that she has to eat of that food before she can have her dessert or treat. Usually I try to go for her age. Since she is 4--she has to eat 4 bites of carrots or green beans or spinach before she can have her cookie. This is the same method my mom used to use with me. It works so well!

6. Sneak them in
When all else fails a good way to sneak in unwanted fruits or vegetables is to sneak them in to a "milkshake" or smoothie. My daughter loves her "milkshakes" You can totally throw some spinach in with a banana and strawberries to give them some extra veggies!

Another product that I swear by is Juice Plus. These are fruit and veggie juice gummies that are whole food nutrition. My daughter thinks they are candy and she loves them! They really make me feel better at the end of the day. If all else fails I know that she has gotten the bare minimum that she needs with these gummies. You can check them out here. They are so good that I take them too! They are sold my independent distributors, so if you are interested contact me and I can give you the hook up!

I hope these tips and tricks help another mother out there who struggles with a picky eater! In solidarity, sisters!