Get your picky eater to try kale

In certain circles (*cough, cough* Portlandia), kale is shorthand for all things healthy. Want to make a smoothie? Kale’s in, spinach is out. Whipping up a frittata? Make sure those eggs come from organic-free-range-vegetarian-fed-deliriously-happy hens, and throw in some kale, too, obvi. Making a salad? Forget the romaine; you need to massage some kale instead.

But if your kid is anything like my picky preschooler, kale is not on the menu.

Until now.

(Sort of.)

picky eater kaleHow my kid started to eat kale

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Egg thief

This was the first year Peeper truly did an Easter egg hunt—and she made up for lost time.

Our friend had hidden dozens of plastic eggs in her back yard. We let the kids loose, and Peeper delighted in each egg she found.

At first, she put them all in Eric’s pockets, since we forgot to bring her a basket. (Noobs.) Then a one-year-old friend lent her his, and all bets were off.

Peeper ventured into the baby area, where eggs were simply strewn across the lawn. “I found SO MANY EGGS!” she yelled, showing her full basket to anyone who would listen.

Toddler Easter egg hunt Ten Thousand Hour MamaToddler Easter egg hunt Ten Thousand Hour MamaThen it began to rain. We all went inside to say our goodbyes and eat a last deviled egg (or eight). But Peeper did not bother with such trifles.

Instead, she found another kid’s basket and without any hesitation emptied the entire thing into her basket.

You gotta admit, she’s resourceful.

To all who celebrate, happy Easter!

Happy Easter Ten Thousand Hour MamaSisters Easter bunny ears Ten Thousand Hour Mama

#MotivationMonday from a toddler’s POV

I’m not sure about you, but I’m having a hard time getting my Monday in gear.

We had a wonderful but slightly hectic weekend, complete with a glam photoshoot, catching up with friends we haven’t seen in way too long, and a brunch with about a dozen babies and their families. (The cuteness quotient was out of control.)

But Daylight Savings is still kicking my rear and I’m feeling stretched very thin.

Happy Daylight SavingsTo help me buck up, I’m channeling Peeper as today’s motivational coach. In my head, I’m thinking of what Peeper might say. Here’s how that’s playing out so far this morning in my #MotivationMonday. Read more

*Forehead slap*

Amidst a sea of toys, books and stray socks covering the carpet, Peeper worked on a puzzle. She concentrated as she arranged several robots, fitting their wooden heads, bodies and feet together.

Then she moved on to a number puzzle.

As she was putting the numbers in their places, she paused. She moved one piece over to the robots.

“Look, now it’s a forehead!” she shouted.

And just like that, my preschooler is a punster.

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Tell me a story

Tell me a story grandpa granddaughterEvery night, Peeper’s wind-down routine is the same: Last Play with a timer. Negotiations to get another Last Play. Teeth-brushing. Stalling to get out of teeth-brushing. Jammies. Book. Song.

And recently, after the lights are turned out, she has asked for a story.

***

When I was growing up, my dad loved to tell us kids stories. He’d invent characters and a plot then string them along in drawn-out dramas. He told us a scary tale about a ventriloquist’s dummy that came to life and a mummy who chased a bunch of explorers—but just because he wanted a cough drop.

He’d tell us these stories in the car, mostly. The tales kept us enthralled between point A and point B—but he’d impeccably time a cliffhanger to the moment he turned off the Shempmobile, his blue Dodge Caravan. He always left us wanting more.

It’s legend, in fact, that one summer he stretched a story about Fluffito, the world’s fluffiest dog, to last a road trip spanning a dozen states. He told about Fluffito’s adventures as he made his way up from local to regional to national to finally international  fluffy dog competitions. But, unbelievably, he didn’t finish by the time we returned home.

Before I could hear the end of the story, in fact, my sister ruined the punchline:

“He’s not so fluffy!”

(Yes, we waited 3,000 miles for that.)

***

I can’t help but think of my dad’s storytelling when Peeper curls up on my lap, waiting for the tale to begin. They’re significantly shorter than my dad’s yarns, but Peeper listens just as raptly as I used to.

Every night Peeper asks for essentially the same story. She wants to hear about how Finn lost his bark. My challenge, then, is to invent a new twist every night—how his bark froze when he was walking to the North Pole, how a crab pinched his nose at the beach and made his bark disappear, how he jumped so high on the trampoline that his bark bounced out of his throat, how a wave from the river splashed into his mouth and made his bark too wet.

Peeper enjoys them all, I think. But every so often, I spin a winner.

“Oh, that’s a good one, Mom,” she’ll say as she slides off my lap and climbs into bed.

Maybe my stories will become longer and more complicated as Peeper grows older. I doubt I’ll ever tell an epic of the same caliber as Fluffito, but you can bet I’ll continue to imagine ways for Finn to lose his bark.

Tonight, and tomorrow night, and every night she asks me, I’ll begin. “Once upon a time…”

Movie night magic

When we were sleep training Kiwi, Eric and I slept on an air mattress in the living room. Peeper was enthralled with it: It was just like the bouncy castle, except in the house! As she jumped on it, her expression was all, OMG YOU GUYS! You’ve been holding out!

When we tried to deflate it, she deflated, too, into a heap of tears.

Eric and I looked at each other. “Would you like to have a sleepover on it later on?” Eric asked. Peeper immediately perked up.

Peeper talked about her sleepover the entire day. I was looking forward to it, too. I imagined a movie night with popcorn and snuggles and a toddler falling asleep on me. But all day she acted more like Meet the Fockers than a Disney flick—everything that could go wrong went wrong.

She refused to eat. She sassed. She demanded. She threw fits. She threw toys. I was ready to call off the whole sleepover.

Somehow Eric, whose job as a special education teacher should have depleted all of his patience, kept a cool head. We pushed through Peeper’s bad attitude and got set up for our special evening together.

I’m so glad we did.

Toddler movie night sleepover
Finn enjoyed the sleepover, too. Can you spot him in his camouflage?

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A bug’s life up close

Peek in a creek - Ten Thousand Hour MamaSpring has come early to Portland. All week the sun has been out, sparking thoughts of running through the sprinklers, popsicle-sticky fingers and sipping wine in the afternoon sun.

Yesterday I threw open the windows and door to the deck. Peeper, of course, darted outside to play in the sun. I took advantage of her independence and Kiwi’s nap to do some dishes.

“What kind of bug is this, Mama?” I heard Peeper ask from outside.

I stepped onto the deck. There was Peeper, lying belly-down on the porch, her nose mere inches from a beetle.

“I don’t know, sweetie. What does it look like?”

“Hm. It’s kind of black and kind of white. It’s very interesting,” she said.

Together, we watched the beetle march up the side of the house. Then it must have tripped over an invisible thread of a spider web. Suddenly, a tiny spider—maybe a tenth of the beetle’s size—darted out. The spider crawled over the beetle, leaving iridescent strands over its hoped-for prey.

Peeper and I watched the drama. Would the beetle escape, or would the spider catch a giant lunch?

The beetle ended up breaking the spider’s hold. After another minute, Peeper pushed herself up off the deck and went back to playing basketball in the planters.

I returned to the dishes. But I smiled as I scrubbed oatmeal from a pot. For a few minutes, Peeper had invited me into her world. I watched the age-old struggle of eat or be eaten with the wonder of a child.

As Peeper notices the smallest of details, she inspires me to see our world anew. She pushes me to ask questions and, when I don’t know the answers, to find out—or at least imagine what could be. She makes me want to get down and examine life nose-to-nose.