Letters to Santa – Unclear on the Concept

Last year we took Watson to see Santa at the local shopping center. Let’s just say he was less than enthusiastic about the idea. He’s always been a shy little boy, and the idea of getting up in a weird old beardy man’s lap didn’t sit well with him. Instead he ran around and observed Santa from afar. Watching. Waiting.

We’ve tried to float the idea with him this year, but he’s been steadfast in his refusal. He knows who Santa is, he knows what Santa is about, and aside from finding Santa’s handiwork on Christmas morning, Watson wants no part of him. Since a visit to Santa is out, we decided to get Watson to write a letter.

This was harder than we’d anticipated, not least because Watson simply doesn’t know what a letter is, at least in this sense. He knows the letters of the alphabet, but in this age of FaceTime and Skype, he has no reason to know what a letter is. He also can’t write anything but his name, which he dutifully wrote at the bottom of the letter.

So Jocelyn decided to take Watson’s dictation as faithfully as possible. She cleaned up a few of the bits where she had to stop him and clarify what the whole exercise was about, but on the whole the letter turned out quite well.

Watson's Letter to Santa

Dear Santa,

I want to write you a letter.
I will write an F.
I want to do a little F.
I want to give you one of my books.
Please can I have Kylo Ren’s lightsaber.
I want a different book, a book that is a Star Wars book. I will trade you my old Star Wars book.
Vivi wants a Cinderella toy. She wants a bed for Brianna.
Freddy might want a thing that is a new walker.
I want a pretend F.
You don’t need to bring anything for mommy and daddy.

Thinking of you,
Watson

Keeping Healthy Through Changes

We’ve been absent from the blog a bit more than we’d like lately, and for that we apologize. We’re just ramping up into the busiest season of the year. Over two months we’ve got Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and 3/5 of the birthdays in our household. Jobs have been busy, with long hours and long commutes. Our older kids have developed the habit of waking up in the middle of the night to sleep in our bed.
What better, we decided, than to add a fourth child to the mix?
That’s right, as of mid-June or so, we’re upgrading from a family of five to a family of six! We don’t yet know if the baby is going to be a boy or a girl. Watson insists that we name the baby Cup (we’re trying to work with him on that). By this time next year the kids will outnumber us two to one.
This has presented us with some interesting food challenges.

1) How to stay healthy on a pregnancy diet

Now that Jocelyn’s pregnant, she’s had higher calorie intake needs and also high calorie cravings. We don’t want her trying to lose weight, but we also don’t want pregnancy to be an excuse for her to stop eating healthy. I also don’t want to let Jocelyn’s pregnancy be an excuse for me to gain weight. That has happened in each of her other pregnancies. It’s a lot more common than I would ever have anticipated.
To fight back against this, we’ve tried to make our lunches more modular. We still take the same thing, but Jocelyn takes an extra snack or an extra piece of fruit. Everything is packaged into individual servings, so we can just grab and go. This has definitely helped. We’ve also tried to be more laid back about eating out since it’s been so busy. We don’t want to force things and get stressed and fall off the wagon completely. Instead we splurge just a little bit here and there by getting some pizza, or going to Panera. It sure beats running ourselves ragged to make food at home every night, no matter how hard. Since we stay reasonably within our bounds when eating out, it’s easier to come back to earth once we reset.

2) How to work around food aversions

The more difficult problem is working around Jocelyn’s food aversions. She’s had trouble with strong flavors. There are things we’ve stocked up on that are no longer any good for her, and we’re scrambling to find replacements. This morning I packed some falafel-spiced crunchy chickpeas as a snack. They’ve long been a favorite of ours, but Jocelyn smelled them and couldn’t handle the spices. The good news is there’s more for me (seriously, they’re delicious), but we have to work to find snacks she can stomach.
The tougher food aversion problem is figuring out how best to work with all of the ingredients in our Hungry Harvest box. This is a nut we haven’t always cracked successfully, but we’re working on it. Food aversions can be swift and severe, and we can never predict what they’re going to be. In those cases, we’ve got to be adaptable. Either we preserve the offending foods, or prepare them so I can eat them and Jocelyn can stay away. It’s a challenge, and it keeps us on our toes.

3) How to make sure kids eat healthy (or at least¬†try¬†healthy foods…or at least have healthy foods sit in front of them for a while)

Finally, we’ve been working hard to teach our kids how to eat healthy. We could feed them chicken nuggets and grapes every night and they’d be happy, but they wouldn’t be learning about new wonderful foods from all around the world. The problem is that at their ages, they’re almost never actually ready to try new wonderful foods. It’s a struggle to get them to try food they’ve already tried and liked, let alone to try new stuff.
We don’t want to instill any kind of neuroses around food, so we don’t require that they clean their plate to be excused. We do make sure they know the dinner we make is the dinner they get. They don’t get special accommodations. If they go to sleep and wake up hungry an hour later, they can have some of the food they refused. It can’t be an excuse to eat the food they wanted in the first place. So far this has been broadly unsuccessful, but these things take time.
We’ve been more lenient with treats, especially since we’re overflowing with the Halloween surplus. They don’t have to finish their whole dinner all the time to get a treat. Usually we just make sure they try a bite or two of the new stuff on their plate before they get one. We want to leave open the possibility that they might just really not like something, at least for now, and reward the willingness to explore and be adventurous with their taste.

Friday Links

Here’s what we’re reading going into the weekend. Got any suggestions? Put them in the comments, we’d love to see them!

Not surprisingly, it turns out that making a whole lot of food and hoping your hotel guests just stop by and eat it produces a ton of food waste! Hyatt is working toward strategies to cut down on food waste at its hotels, which is a great first step. As it turns out, IKEA is doing something similar.

The New York Times has a good article on how to approach a lot of different aspects of parenting. TL;DR – for the most part, relax and do what works, and make sure you’re firm, consistent, and caring.

Firmly in the “this is for parents, not for children” camp, if you’ve got a few extra hours this weekend, you could do worse than catching up on USA’s The Sinner. It’s a really gripping 8 part miniseries (with 2 parts left to go!) featuring really great performances by Jessica Biel and Bill Pullman.

Finally, we’re looking forward to trying this veggie hash from Full Belly Whole Heart this weekend! It’s always great to find new blogs with great recipes!