How to Get Kids to Eat Their Veggies!

This idea is really going to blow your mind! I mean…it’s just so BIG and ingenious, I can’t wait to share it with you…


If there is one thing that I’ve learned in my 15 years as a parent and another 7 years as an educator…kids are opportunists! And we as parents can use that to our advantage!

My kids will generally eat veggies when they are cooked and put on their plates for dinner. It can take some doing, and some kids are more receptive than others, but we have some sorta veggie at most every dinner. And usually something GREEN at that! My mom was a firm believer that every dinner plate needed something green on it! Even if that meant double (or TRIPLE) veggies, because she had already cooked carrots and cauliflower! If she looked down at the plate and didn’t see something green…she’d whip up a salad and sleep better at night! 😉

I guess that stuck. Because I kinda feel the same way. My body needs GREEN veggies!

My kids don’t feel that way…yet! But we’re working on it. Every day.

Raw veggies are something that most of my kids tend shy away from, usually. I do have one child who will eat most any veggie: cooked, raw, red, green, etc. She’s my salad eater. If I make myself a salad, she wants one too. Of course she wants hers slathered in ranch dressing, but that’s an issue for another day.

So in my challenge group the other day, I challenged my participants to set out some healthy snacks, like fruits and veggies, and just make them available to their kids without even suggesting they eat it. I decided to catch my project on hidden camera, and my kids played RIGHT into it! When they saw this video later, they all laughed and applauded my sneakiness! Take a look:

The bottom line is that if we make healthy foods available, easy to access, kids WILL go for it! Maybe not every time, but I believe over time you’ll see them grabbing foods you thought they might never eat on their own. No need to force or persuade. Just put them on your counter and see what happens. A good time for this is after school. Kids come home starving and start looking for quick snacks to stuff in their face. If there’s food RIGHT there, that they don’t have to search for, or prepare…chances are good that they’ll take the easy opportunity!

TRY it! 🙂

Monthly Challenge Groups are forming now! Join me for a month of focus on your health, fitness and nutrition, in a FUN and supportive accountability group (all done on Facebook!)

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Ice Cream to the Rescue!

Sit back while I tell you a story about the best laid plans…workout_done

I was feeling pretty awesome today when I got up, and hit the ground running. I had a busy day, and knew that if I didn’t get my workout in first thing in the morning, that it wouldn’t happen. Among other things, our five-year old had his FIRST ever soccer game tonight. He’s been talking about it and planning it for over a month! It was all going down at 6:30, so I planned the whole day around it! I also wanted make sure that we had time for dinner and time to clean up and get out the door on time!

After my workout, I got dressed, packed up some food, water and snacks for the day and took the whole chicken – that had been marinating in a dry rub all night – out of the fridge and put it into the oven to slow-roast for 4.5 hours while we were gone. <sigh> Then I herded up the kids, blended up my Shake and hit the road.

During the day there was a lot of speculation about how the game would go. Excitement was building.

So we came home and I had just enough time to cook up some acorn squash, potatoes and broccoli (all from our csa farm)to go with the aforementioned chicken. Everything was going according to plan. We sat down, to eat our family dinner – that was quite delicious by the way! We had time to clean up, pack up, gear up and head to the big game. Now the excitement had bubbled up to pure giddiness!

He skipped and smiled all the way to the field, just in time to see the game ending. Apparently this isn’t a very well run or organized program, because it turns out that only 2 of his teammates knew what time the game was, and even their coach didn’t show for the game. Well, to say that he was devastated is an UNDER-statement! Poor kid. I didn’t even know what to say to him! Thank goodness DADDY was there and in a moment of brilliance declared, “Ice Cream!” Yes ice cream! Why didn’t I think of that?

ice_cream_dq2There were just a few more sniffles and we were on our way. He ordered his ice cream cone with sprinkles, and smiled for the rest of the night.

And yes…in a show of family solidarity, I partook in a mini blizzard – Heath if you must know! But I did it for him!

While I Sit and Wait…

I’m sitting here watching my daughter at gymnastics and can’t help but wonder…

Are kids being pushed TOO hard to be more, do more and compete more? Just wondering. I’m going to pull the ‘old lady’ card again. MAN! I swore when I was a kid I would NEVER say…”when I was your age…” But here goes:

When I was a kid, we played sports with our friends, after school or in summer recreation leagues (note the word “recreation”). We played sports on the weekends ONLY when we decided to play a game of pick-up ‘whatever’ in someone’s driveway or backyard. RARELY did we have a school-organized weekend game or tournament. A “travel team” meant that our moms drove us to someone else’s house to play for the day.  In school, we were encouraged to play multiple sports, because when one sport season ended, it was over – until next year. We had practices for an hour or so after school and 1-2 games/week during the season. I feel like we just had more free time. We had time to call friends and neighbors over on weeknights and weekends, to play ‘kick the can’ and ‘ghosts in the graveyard’. Sure, we played sports, but we also just PLAYED!

So back to gymnastics for a minute. We’re trying a new gym that’s a little closer to our house, but I’m not so sure we’re going to stick around. This place is run sort of like a military style boot-camp, which I’m not so sure is what my 7-year-old daughter had in mind. You see, she has natural ability. She’s incredibly, disgustingly flexible, and she thinks it’s FUN to tumble around the backyard and down the hallway and everywhere! But this is the type of place that could quickly make a kid forget that they ever thought gymnastics was fun. And that is precisely what I DON’T want!

Obviously, physical exercise and health are very important to me and my family, but not at the expense of family time, and free time. I want them to be able to enjoy physical fitness, doing what they find fun, exploring their talents, etc…but I don’t plan on any of my kids getting ‘free rides’ to college on a sports scholarship OR becoming professional athletes. Certainly, if that IS what they wanted to pursue, I’d be their biggest fan! But, I don’t think a young kid has all of that in mind when they join a gymnastics class or a pee wee soccer team. I just want my kids to be active, get exercise and have fun. Whether that’s in a gym, a field or our backyard.

I hear a lot conversations that go on between parents in the waiting room, or on the bleachers. Parents are already discussing the fact that “Abby” will never make it on the high school cheer team unless she gets started – at the ripe old age of 3-  in this competitive gymnastics class. Or that “Bobby” won’t make the school team unless he plays the travel team over the summer. And even then…it’s NO guarantee! The competition has never been more fierce than it is now!

We didn’t have travel teams, or off-season conditioning. We didn’t have to limit ourselves to playing one sport either. Now, it seems a kid has to pick a sport and devote their entire life to being a STAR at it! They practice after school, sometimes before school, and on the weekends, all year round! Even Mother’s Day isn’t sacred anymore! If you’re a mom, with a kid in a sport…you’re going to a tournament on Mother’s Day…and you’re going to be there ALL day! And it’ll probably be freezing and rainy! Happy Mother’s Day! 🙂 When one season wraps up, they’re on to a travel team, and then it starts all over! Parents are buying RVs to follow these kids around the country! What about free time? What about time to just be a kid, hang out and play!

Having been involved in team sports my entire childhood, I DEFINITELY see the value in playing team sports. Kids DO learn a lot about teamwork, dedication, reliability, being a good sport, winning, losing, etc…And it’s fun to be part of a team! I just wonder if we’re not sucking some of the fun out of it with all of the pressure that kids feel to be better, do more and WIN!

I dunno…the jury is still out on this gymnastics class. But if she says, it’s not fun…we’re outta here! I know there’s a lot of people who disagree with me about all of this, but it’s just something I think about and talk about. What are your thoughts about it? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for LETTING Me Work Mom!

I just wanted to share something that made me happy this morning. I work at the Farmer’s Market every other Saturday for the farm where we are CSA (community supported agriculture) share-members. I’ve learned a great deal about the various vegetables that they grow. I’ve learned that there is so much more of a variety of vegetables that we are not exposed to in our limited grocery store produce section. I’ve learned that there are people who pick up produce the morning of the farmer’s market, from the same place that grocery stores get their mass-produced produce (haha!) and then sell it at the farmer’s market to people like me (the old me) that assume they grew it on a farm somewhere nearby. So really, they are just selling you the very same grocery store fruits and veggies, but up-charging you since you assume it was locally grown and therefore worth a premium. ARGH! So if you go to a farmer’s market this summer and approach a “farmer’s” stand, be sure to ask WHERE their farm is! If they have one…GREAT! If not…keep on walking a support your local farmers. 🙂

Ok, back to what I’ve learned…

I’ve learned that getting up at 5:30 is HARD! I could never be an actual farmer, but I’m happy to be a farmer’s helper every so often. But today I learned something even better. My son voluntarily woke up at 5:30 with me this morning because he wanted to go and work with me at the farmer’s market. He was much more awake than I was at that time in the morning, and ready to get to work. He helped set up, and was eager to assist in any way he could. Once we were set up, he tried his hand at the “good morning” meet-and-greet. He learned that timing, and volume are key! He got it right a couple of times. It was sweet to watch him trying to figure it all out.


It was a relatively slow day, so we got to walk around a bit and check out the other vendors’ wares. We bought some homemade soap that my son picked out for its lovely, lemony scent. We watched a lady write his name, and his sister’s name, on a piece of rice and then put it inside an oil-filled vile where it will be preserved – apparently a Turkish, good-luck tradition. We also bought some delicious cinnamon swirl bread and my son got to pet a puny little dog named “Tiger”. We saw lots of people, got out in the community, had some nice conversations, learned about the food we eat, and had a nice morning.

When we got home though, after working for about 3 1/2 hours, I learned the coolest thing of all: I have a pretty awesome son! Before he took off to go play with the neighbors he said, “Thanks Mom!”. I said, “For what?”. To which he replied, “For LETTING me work with you at the farmer’s market today.” We were home before 2 of his siblings were even awake. He learned some pretty cool lessons today, I think! He learned the difference between Moroccan mint and apple mint. He learned what garlic scapes and leek scapes were. He also learned how to set up a big tent, and a folding table, how to keep fresh veggies fresh while they sit on the farm stand, how to meet and greet customers, and how to make his mom really proud and happy! 🙂

Bucket List

Happy Memorial Day and unofficial start to summer. Here in the midwest, I have to say it doesn’t feel much like summer this weekend. But it’s been perfect weather for tackling all of the outdoor projects. I’ve shoveled many yards of soil and mulch this weekend and have the blisters and achin’ back to prove it! At least I wasn’t sweating profusely like in years past. So how’s that for looking on the bright side!? I am however, looking forward to steady, warmer temps ahead so that we can start checking off some of the items on our Summer Bucket List!

What is the “Summer Bucket List?”


On one of our many LONG car-rides, we decided to put together a list of things that we’d all like to try to do this summer. The kids came up with some really good ideas. Some of them are so simple, like: skipping stones and climbing trees… 🙂 But they’re important just the same. Other items that came up made me laugh. I came to the realization that we have never, ever, all 6 of us together at the same time, been to a movie theatre! Well…perhaps it’s because we would have to take out a second mortgage on the house in order to afford such an outing! Lucky for us, in the small town where we live now, there’s a cute little old-timey movie theater that is MUCH more affordable than it was for all of us to go when we lived near Chicago. So, I think we’ll be able to check that off the list after all!

We’ve already been able to cross off a few. We’ve had TWO bonfires already and we just picked asparagus the other day! SCORE!

They want to watch stars, chart the moon’s phases, stay up late and watch for shooting stars, go fishing, eat corn on the cob, fly kites, watch a sunset, etc….

One that made me smile was when they decided they wanted to save up some money over the summer and donate it to a good cause. <Pitter Pat> goes my heart!

It’s funny, but most of the 40 items they chose would cost very little to NO money at all! And that makes me happy and also realize that the little things really mean the most when you’re a kid!

So here’s to summer! Go make a Summer Bucket List with your family! You might be surprised with some of the ideas they come up with for must-do summer activities! 🙂

A Public Service Announcement


Unless you WANT your husband to get buff, healthy and totally hot…forget about getting fit! This is a warning to women everywhere. The following events will happen, and it’ll be your fault!

Here’s how: First, you’ll start working out with HIS weights! Not to be outdone, he’ll work in a couple sets of his own, and ask you to “spot” him, which means…”Look how STRONG I am”! Then, you’ll take the dog out for a few runs, and suddenly he’ll be dusting off his running shoes and “testing” them out to see if they still feel good. You’ll inevitably start cooking and eating healthier foods. He’ll  begrudgingly take one bite, and then he’ll clean his plate, get a second helping, but save enough of the leftovers to take for lunch the next day.  You see where this is going. Go ahead…get healthy…see what happens!

Here’s the truly discouraging thing about this phenomenon. Your husband will ‘decide’ to get fit, and the next day…he’ll be down 10 pounds!  Just deciding seems to work up enough of a burn to accomplish this feat…overnight! Before you know it, his pants won’t stay up, he’ll need new belts and you won’t be able to pry him away from the mirrors in your house. 🙂  It’ll happen. Trust me.

It won’t stop with your husband either…nope. Your mom will be calling you and wanting to know what healthy recipes you’re making for dinner this week. She’ll want to start working out with the latest and greatest programs available and taught be women half her age! 😉 She’ll be leading a revolution in her own house and then guess who’s next…yep…your dad! (See above for how that’s going to turn out)

Don’t even get me started on your kids! They are going to be running downstairs to follow along with your workout video. Your 5-year-old might even decide that he is strong enough to pick up your 15 pound dumbbell after you explained to him at least a dozen times that he should not pick it up because he’ll likely drop it, it’ll land on his foot, and he’ll break a toe! But he won’t listen to you. He’ll pick it up anyway, drop it on his foot and break a toe! Your six-year-old might be learning how to read all of the big words in the world around her, but pay special attention to food labels and words like: calories, sugar grams, high fructose corn syrup, etc. She’ll point out again and again what ingredients are in the foods you’re all eating and make dinner time a real learning experience for everyone.

So you can see…this is not a decision to take lightly. Are you ready for the consequences of your actions? If so, I suggest you buy men’s pants on sale, get more mirrors, some protective foot coverings for your children and a dictionary. Then, you might be prepared to take on this new healthy lifestyle, and all that comes with it! Good luck! 😀

Plight of the busy mom

It’s a challenge everyday to fit everything in!  As a mom of four, I am forever busy!  We are always on the go to lessons, practices, classes, etc. etc.  Add that to shopping, cleaning, cooking, etc. etc…WHAT ABOUT ME?!  I wake up most everyday, put on my workout clothes and hit the ground running.  I don’t often get my workout done in the morning…I’ve never been a morning person.  I also have always had some low blood sugar issues, so I feel like I can’t workout until I’ve eaten a little something.  By the time I eat and digest…the morning window of opportunity has passed.  I usually end up fitting it in after dinner.  The kids are busy playing with friends or busy doing something…and it’s my opportunity to have about an hour to myself.  I truly enjoy my workout time, because it’s the one hour a day where I truly just focus on ME!  It’s the one time of day I ask the kids to let me have the space and time to get it done.  I like to put on my headphones and focus on the tasks at hand.  When I’m done…I’m re-energized and ready for the evening routines:  getting kids ready for bed and such.  And finally…I can relax and spend some time with my husband, review the busy day, plan for tomorrow, or watch a game or some news on t.v.  I feel better and sleep better when I carve out that “Me”-time, and everyone in my family benefits from it!  Trust me.