There comes a moment in everyone’s life when they look at their piece of crap car and think to themselves, “I’m better than this. Aren’t I?”
That’s what happened to me. I looked at my pretzel-littered minivan with almost 150,000 miles on it and a special essence that even a professional detailing can’t quite remove and thought – I need more than this in life.
I spend roughly 20,000 hours in the car a week… driving children, picking up children and blasting music so as not to hear previously mentioned children whining and squabbling and crying. I just couldn’t spend one more minute in this hot mess of a car. If only for my own self worth.
So the search began. What to buy when you have 5 kids and know in your heart that if you buy anything too big you will be side swiping trees and other vehicles on a daily basis? We looked at everything from the Tahoe to the Nissan Armada to the Honda Pilot to the Chevy Traverse to the Infinity to the Anything Else Anyone Mentioned.
But everything seemed to big. Or too small. Or not enough space in the back. Or just lame. Or just too expensive. Or too not-a-Mini-Cooper.
I knew I had hit rock bottom when I resorted to the internet and pleaded with my Facebook friends to please tell me what to buy. This was my favorite piece of advice.
I also learned that people LOVE their cars. But the more advice we got, the more confused I became.
My children pleaded, “When are we buying a new car?”
I don’t know, I said. I was frozen. I couldn’t answer the eternal question of our time… What comes after the minivan?
And then we made a decision. We just stopped looking. We paid to fix out ailing minivan with the convenient sliding doors, plethora of cargo space and the crushed pretzels on the floor. It will certainly last the summer. Maybe even into the fall.
Our minivan isn’t forever. But for now, we can’t quite shake it.
This post is sponsored by the American Heart Association
When you first hold your newborn baby – you have BIG Plans. Big. And one of them includes healthy eating. I’ll never feed my child junk food, you think smugly to yourself. Nothing but fresh fruits and vegetables from my imaginary organic garden, lean protein bought from the neighborhood food market and lots of whole grains. This kid will be swimming in whole grains!
Fast forward a couple years and you are literally torpedoing bags of chips into the back of your minivan in an effort to stop the whining.
Encouraging my five kids to eat healthy sometimes feels very hard. But there are easy tricks that can help. And no, I’m not talking about some pricey gourmet meal with 45 minutes of prep time that your children taste and immediately say, “Can you make me a hotdog instead?” Because we aren’t trying to give you a nervous breakdown here.
These are 8 real ideas that actually work with minimal effort from the parent. Minimal parenting effort. Isn’t that a beautiful phrase?!
1. Get Kids To Eat Healthy When They’re Actually Hungry
It can be very difficult to convince a kid who isn’t even all that hungry to taste some of those delicious, crunchy carrot sticks. Way easier if they’re super starving. So as you’re preparing dinner… put healthy snacks out on the table. This is actually part of their dinner.
Every time a kid saunters by with pains of hunger, suggest they survey the table and eat anything they want. You can put out things like carrots with hummus, seaweed (found at places like Costco, Trader Joe’s, Asian markets), edamame, guacamole (Don’t underestimate the avocado. It’s super delicious and good for you), cut up fruit, bowl of grapes, you get the idea.
Even if you’re serving pizza for dinner, make sure they get the healthy stuff first. That way they don’t fill up on bread and cheese before even trying the grapes.
2. Keep Almonds or Other Nuts in the Car
I always keep a bag of almonds in the car because when I’m running around, I get hungry and it’s an easy way to satisfy my hunger. But I found that my kids (even one of my pickiest eaters) started snacking on them when there were no other snacks to be found. And now I have a couple of serious almond lovers. My 4 year old refused to try them for months and then finally relented one day when he was bored and now he’s almost an almond enthusiast. Just make sure to check the serving size so you don’t overdo it.
3. Pack Healthy Snacks (really, do it)
Most kids will dive for the junk first so just don’t have it around when you pick them up from school or various activities. The other day I brought my 4 year old to the library for an outing and I only brought healthy snacks…. a banana, seaweed, low-fat cheese stick, apple and a fruit flat.
And he ate EVERYTHING.
Did he eat a little more junky things later in the day? Yes. I am not a saint. But at least he had already gotten some nutritional food in that belly. Here are some great ideas on healthy snacks to bring along.
4. Skip the Soda
Soda in my house is a special treat reserved for birthday parties, special outings and celebrations. My kids drink water and milk because that’s pretty much all there is in the house. Yes, sometimes I make chocolate milk or lemonade as a treat. But in general, it’s only H20. Do they complain about this sometimes? Absolutely. Do I feel bad for them? Definitely not.
5. Kids Love a Gimmick
If you’ve ever made your kid a pancake that looks like an emoticon face, then you know they love doing fun things with food! So how about trying to make a meal using all the colors of the rainbow. Here’s some ideas on what you can include.
6. Get Your Children into the Kitchen
Ever noticed how much kids love to “help?” Depending on their age, you can have them start making some of these healthy meals. My 7 year old twins will help me cut strawberries. My 10 year old will make salad. My 12 year old has made chicken burritos for the whole family. They can even pick out and help make recipes. If your kids are more invested in what is being served, they are more likely to actually eat it. Or at least that’s my theory.
7. When Necessary – Sneak Some Good Stuff Into Their Diet
The truth is – there are some super picky eaters out there that won’t be convinced that fruits and veggies are all that fabulous. Check out these ideas on hiding a few vegetables into everyday meals. I particularly like the idea of putting cooked and pureed vegetables like butternut squash, sweet potatoes and carrots into cheesy dishes like lasagna or mac and cheese.
8. Find out Where the Cheap Food Is
Healthy food doesn’t have to take away from your vacation budget (because you NEED that vacation). Just know where the best places are for you to shop. The cost of fruits and veggies varies GREATLY. I have my go-to store for affordable produce. But a warehouse club is where I buy bulk snacks. And I visit my regular grocery store for convenient snacks like a hummus/pretzel combo or guacamole/chips combo. So doing a little investigating on who has the best prices in your neighborhood can save you money.
So What Now?!
You know when the perfect time is to try some of these healthy ideas? June! Because it’s National Fresh Fruits and Veggies Month. Especially if you just celebrated National Doughnut Day a little too hard.
And you don’t have to try all this at once on your kids. Just join the Healthy For Good Movement (scroll down and click “join the movement”) and get inspired by fun ideas and yummy recipes. You got this.
Have a great tip on helping kids (or yourself) eat healthier? Please share. It takes a village.
This post is sponsored by The American Heart Association. The views, opinions and positions expressed within this post belong to Mama Bird Diaries and do not necessarily represent those of The American Heart Association unless explicitly stated.
This post is sponsored by Luvs.
32 year old Roderick Fuller knows exactly who turned his life around.
It was his 3 year old daughter Ariah.
The single dad says, “I was not responsible before. I did a 360 degree turnaround. I had no choice.”
During the day, he works at a grocery store warehouse. And the rest of the time, he takes care of his daughter (with help from his own mother).
3 year old Ariah does spend time with her mom from time to time. But it’s this guy who is always there.
And he feels blessed.
“I love it. When she wasn’t talking or walking, it was hard. Now she’s more independent. I have to watch over her but when’s she’s sick, she can tell me what’s wrong.”
This is just the kind of dad that Luvs (yes, that diaper company) wants to honor this father’s day. Luvs gave me $200 to spend on Roderick as part of the company’s #ShareTheLuv campaign. He chose a gift certificate to a restaurant and a massage (to help his bad back from lifting all those boxes at the warehouse).
He says, he would never buy these things on his own because life is hard financially. “My money goes towards daycare and bills.”
He is currently living in Fort Lauderdale, FL with his parents but Habitat for Humanity is helping build a house for him and his daughter in nearby Pompano Beach. They hope to move in this summer.
Of course, there is one thing about fatherhood he hasn’t quite mastered. “I can’t do her hair. My sister does that.” But he seems to have everything else covered. And you kind of know he’s going to get that hair thing down too.
So what’s his favorite part of parenthood?
“The way she looks up to me and asks for me when I’m at work. Watching her learn. She’s very smart.”
He is blessed indeed.
Luvs also generously gave me diapers do donate to Covenant House, a safe place for at risk, homeless teens (and their babies) here in Fort Lauderdale.
There is enough to worry about as a parent, the diapering part should easy. That’s why Luvs is a company that believes in affordable, dependable diapers like their Luvs Ultra Leakguard Diapers with NightLock Plus™. These diapers are softer and more absorbent than before, with large stretch tabs for easy fastening, ultra-leakage protection and a money-back guarantee.
And there’s more! Luvs is sharing the luv this Father’s day with a $2 print-at-home coupon. Click here to access $2 off any one diaper pack.
Print the coupon at home and use it at any mass, discount or grocery stores where Luvs Diapers are sold. All Luvs Diapers are included in this particular offer, except trial/travel sized diaper packs. Print-at-Home coupons expire 30 days from the date the coupon is printed.
Share the coupon and #ShareTheLuv
This post is sponsored by Luvs. All ideas are my own.
I did a very quick trip to New York City this weekend. Well, as quick as it can be when you bring along these three amigos.
And by amigos, I mean people who scream at each other in the taxi because one is making some kind of beeping nose, one is sitting too close and the third is rolling the window up and then down and then up and then down.
But at least 5 minutes before we reached our destination, they would usually quiet down…
In general, we did a lot of walking and we had the chance to run into some New Yorkers walking their birds.
No, not like that. Although, cute shoes!
These were the ladies we saw walking their birds…
Yes, each carries their bird in a cage which makes me think there might be a market for a bird size Baby Bjorn.
And these two ladies (who are sisters and roommates) take the birds for walks because… and I swear this is true… “The birds like the air.”
It sort of makes me want to follow them all day with a boom box blaring out, “Wind Beneath My Wings” but I can’t handle a restrainer order right now.
And the birds are name Robyn and Poppin. Which sort of sounds like they rhyme but the sister’s names don’t rhyme because come on, that would be strange.
We all know that flying is way overrated anyway because of the delays and lost luggage issues so maybe these birds are perfectly happy being walked in their airy cages.
But in case they aren’t, the birds do get some flying time in the apartment and I heard they’ve been dying to try iFly.
And by the way, later today you’ll likely be belting out, “I can fly higher than an eagle, For you are the wind beneath my wings” in the grocery store while you try to remember why you are singing that damn Bette Midler song from 1988.
Okay children, there’s this rumor that you are going to be released soon which makes no sense because I know I signed a petition to keep you in school 365 days a year. Or was that a petition to save the sea otters. Or maybe it was a permission slip for you to visit some country farm. Whatever. I can’t remember.
The point is I’ve been receiving a lot of threatening letters from the school (which seems a lot like bullying) about you being done with school very soon. Which means I’ve put together a list of rules for the summer that all children must follow.
Rules for the Summer
You Still Have a Bedtime
Bedtime is the same. The SAME. You’re not going to bed later because it’s summer. Okay maybe 20 minutes later. But not later later. If you go to bed any later, it will be practically morning. You’re growing. You need sleep. I need you to be sleeping. Bedtime will be the same except all the nights where I let you stay up too late.
If You Want a Lemonade Stand…
There will be no lemonade stands UNLESS you do more work than me. I will not pay for the ingredients and make the lemonade and drag the table, the pitcher, the cups, the chair and the sign down to the corner only so you can make a few dollars and then beg me for the next week to go to Toys R Us so you can spend “your” money. You must do the bulk of the work. Okay, half the work. Okay, 20% of the work. THIS IS NOT A NEGOTIATION. Okay you do 10% of the work but that’s my final offer. And I get to drink as much lemonade as I want.
Clean Up, Clean Up, Clean Up Time
An activity must be cleaned up in the house before you start on the next one. lololololol.
Cut It Out with the Slime
Stop making slime. At this point children, you are stockpiling slime. If there is armageddon, we will have enough slime to build a fortress and keep our enemies out. We have enough slime.
Fidget Spinners are Not a Collector’s Item
You can make it through the summer without buying any more fidget spinners. We can use the fidget spinners we already own to also combat our foes during the final days of the world.
No Mythical Creature Drinks
Do not even ask me for any more of those unicorn dragon mermaid loch ness creature $5 drinks from Starbucks.
If you want a treat, I will buy you a .99 cent doughnut. If you want something cold, freeze the doughnut.
I Hate Sunscreen Too
You will not wince and squirm and complain when I put on your sunscreen. I’m trying to protect your skin. Trust me, this isn’t my idea of a good time either. But apparently children are supposed to spend a lot of time playing outside so we must both endure. Do not give me this face.
You will Love Traveling!
We will be doing some traveling. You will pack. You will unpack. You will be delighted at the places we take you. Every road trip will be an opportunity to learn something new in the world. Or at the very least watch TV and eat snacks while fighting with your siblings and losing your shoes in the car. Spin it however you want.
There’s a Place You Can Find Food
Food is in the kitchen. If you’re hungry, you can go get some. No need to declare, “I’m hungry” 103 times. Just eat something (that is more like hummus and less like cake) and you will no longer feel hungry.
The Quieter You Are, The More You Get Away With
Children often make the mistake of being too loud when they are getting away with something. So smuggle your phone into your room at night. Eat chocolate chip cookies at 8 am. Mail your brother to a circus. Just be very quiet about it and I’ll leave you alone.
You must follow each and every rule or else I will probably start sobbing and lock myself in the bathroom with a dozen red velvet cupcakes which means you won’t get any of those cupcakes so I would advise you follow these rules so you can eat a cupcake.