food · slice of life

Grape Jelly (with a Side of Chicken and Cauliflower)

Here’s Ari… setting the table for the meal he wanted.

After a long day that included three meetings and more driving than I want to admit to, I was relieved tonight’s dinner was simple. I removed the spatchcocked chicken from the oven and set it on the counter to cool. I walked over to the fridge, opened the left door, and removed the cauliflower rice from the produce drawer. All I needed was a frying pan, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and I’d have dinner on the table in less than 15 minutes.

Best laid plans.

“I want some jelly!” Ari declared as he removed both squeeze bottles of grape jelly from the fridge. (Don’t ask me why we have two almost-empty bottles of grape jelly. That’s a mystery I’ll solve tomorrow.)

“We’re having chicken and cauliflower rice for dinner,” I reminded him.

He was unconvinced. “I want some jelly!” With his second declaration, he scuttled across the kitchen with both bottles of grape jelly, slammed them down on the kitchen table, and said, “I want some jelly!”

Aren’t you good at being two? I thought.

“I’ve made chicken and cauliflower rice tonight. It’s time to put the jelly back in the fridge.”

“I want some jelly!” he said forcefully enough to make me check the jelly-bottle caps to make sure they were on tightly.

“You can have peanut butter and jelly for lunch tomorrow. Tonight we’re eating chicken and cauliflower rice.”

I handed Ari the bottles of jelly and ushered him back to the fridge. I opened the left door and said, “Put it back in the refrigerator, please.”

He counted, “One! Two!” as he placed the jellies back onto the shelf.

I helped Ari closed the refrigerator door. I hoped he would forget about the jelly and just eat a good dinner. Thankfully, he’s a good little eater. He ran from the fridge to his booster seat, clipped himself in, smiled proudly, and said, “I want chicken now.”

We’ll work on manners tomorrow.

Bye-bye jellies!

food · slice of life

Graduation Day

“Pomp and Circumstance” didn’t play in the background. There weren’t any caps and gowns in sight. There were very few photographs taken. BUT, it was graduation day, nonetheless.

Today’s graduation was for Ari and it was from feeding therapy appointments.

Not only did he take bites from an apple slice today, but he took bites out of an apple!

Ari loves food and is always willing to try new things. However, he had issues making the transition from puréed foods to table foods. As a result, we saw a speech therapist who specializes in feeding issues once or twice a month for nearly a year. Today, 51 weeks to day after Ari’s first appointment, he was discharged from feeding appointments since — as of today — Ari can successfully eat beef, apple with the skin, and clementine segments! (These foods were too tricky for him just six weeks ago.)

While we will still carefully monitor Ari when he eats, we are in a better place than we were in a year ago. It is an understatement to say I am relieved. And relief is better than any mortarboard and tassel!

CONVERSATIONS · food · slice of life

Muh Pnt-zins Puh-lease

“Are you still hungry?” I asked Ari after lunch.

He nodded. Naturally, I began suggesting other options for things he could eat: cheese, raspberries, blueberries, peaches… you get the idea. But he just kept saying “pnt-zins.” I had no idea what kind of fruit would be called “pnt-zins.”

Thankfully, Ari stayed patient. He didn’t cry; he kept repeating “pnt-zins.”

“Do you want pretzels?” I asked. (That couldn’t be what he wanted.)

“Yes!” he said, his face lighting up.

See that sweet smile?

“But you’ve never had pretzels. Or have you?” I looked at Ari. Ari grinned back at me.

I walked across the kitchen and grabbed a bag of pretzels from the pantry.

“Pnt-zins!” Ari yelped.

“Who let you try pretzels?” I asked him.

“Ih-ba-belle! Daddy!” He implicated his sister and father.

“Oh really? Isabelle and Daddy let you have pretzels?” I said. Must’ve been when I was out of town…

“Yes!” Ari declared.

“Oh boy,” I said, making a mental note to have a conversation with my husband and daughter tonight.

Ari took a bite. “Good!” He smiled. “Yummy!”

“Of course they’re yummy, they’re salty,” I replied.

Ari kept biting and chewing. “Yummy!” he declared again and again, until he finally said, “Muh pnt-zins puh-lease.”

How do you deny a polite (and somewhat-reasonable) request?

You don’t. At least, I didn’t. So I handed over two more pretzels.

I’m still planning to talk to Marc and Isabelle tonight. Because I kinda want to know what else Ari has tried that I don’t know about.

food · slice of life

Little Green Smoothie Drinker

The opening of the freezer — to get a cupful of ice — beckons him.

The whir of the blender lures him toward me and makes him raise his arms and request “up.”

The power button — which I allow him to press — makes him smile.

The frostiness of the drink makes him sign and say “more.”


Ari taught himself how to suck from a straw a few months ago since he was highly motivated to have what I was drinking (i.e., a green smoothie). Over the past few months, Ari has become a BIG fan of green smoothies. The more complex the ingredients, the more he drinks! That’s right. The green ingredient of the smoothie can be kale or collard greens. Doesn’t matter. He loves it. (I’m completely baffled since many adults can’t handle more than spinach in their green smoothies!)

This morning, I mixed up a rather complex combination of ingredients for my breakfast smoothie.

Ari toddled over as soon as he heard me mix the spinach and water together in the first round of blending. He watched intently as I added kiwis, a pear, pomegranate powder, pumpkin seeds, and protein powder to the blender.

“Want to help me get the ice?” I asked.

Ari hurried towards the freezer door. He peered inside as I grabbed out the cubes. He shut the door once I had what I needed.

After I added the ice, it was time to blend. I capped the blender and set it atop the motor.

“Up!” he reliably requested.

We hit the power button together and watched magic happen as the ingredients were pulverized and liquified. Once the mixture was smooth and green, I positioned his pointer finger on the power button and helped him push it twice to stop the blender.

I set him down on the floor. “I’ll get the cup. You get your bib. Then, we’ll share at the table.”

Two minutes later, Ari was nestled on my lap, taking turns and sharing a green smoothie with me.

board books · consulting · food · motherhood · slice of life · weather · writing

Yesterday and Today

Yesterday was cold.

Today is snowy.

Yesterday I was busy: driving on back-country roads and working with teachers.

Today I am moving slowly: staying at home and playing with Ari.

Yesterday I ate in a hurry: turkey sandwich, yellow peppers, Sumo orange, and trail mix.

Today I had a leisurely meal: breakfast tacos made with spinach, eggs, queso fresco, and hot sauce.

Yesterday I debriefed classroom visits and talked about minilessons.

Today I’m reading board books again and again and again.

Yesterday was good.

Today is good.

food · slice of life

At Least Someone Appreciates My Food!

This is the third day in a row I’m writing about food. (Click here or here for my previous food-related posts.) I’m promising myself it will be my last food-related slice for awhile. However, I felt compelled to share something that happened today when I invited a friend and her daughter over for lunch.

As a full-time mom, part-time literacy consultant, part-time writer, and adjunct professor, I usually eat lunch at home by myself. (Often, I wolf it down while Ari plays.) I do this so as to maximize the time I have to get my work done since Ari will often fall asleep on car rides, which means he won’t nap for long stretches once we’re at home. (Nap Time = Work Time!) Every now and then I’ll meet a friend out for lunch or will get together for lunch. Today was one of those days. I hosted my friend Lara and her almost-four-year-old daughter for lunch. (Our older kids are in the same Kindergarten class.)

A day or two before we made plans, I encountered a Spiralized Sweet Potato Breafkast Tostada recipe that sounded scrumptious. Once she accepted my lunch invitation, I asked her if she’d be up for trying it and if her daughter would eat it. The answer was yes (to both)!  Isabelle would never eat this, I thought. But good for her kid if she will! I decided to make breakfast for lunch on the day they’d be over.

This afternoon, I prepared the recipe as Lara and I chatted in the kitchen. With each layer I added to the plate — sweet potato tostada, fried egg, baby spinach, refried beans, avocado, salsa, and cotija cheese — I thought there’s no way her three-year-old will eat this!

“I’m going to take a picture of this,” I told Lara as I finished plating our food. “If G. eats this, then I’m going to tell Isabelle about it when she gets home from school.”

And do you know what happened? Her daughter ate what I made. In fact, she said it was good!

At least there’s one child out there who appreciates my cooking.

(Click here for the Spiralized Sweet Potato Tostada recipe.)

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food · slice of life

Baking by Myself

Last week, I realized it had been a long time since I had baked with Isabelle. So when I saw Bob’s Red Mill was running a sale, I decided to order some gluten-free baking staples. Despite earning free shipping, the products arrived in two days. Therefore, I knew we’d be able to bake this weekend.

Isabelle and I used to bake with each other constantly. However, once Ari came along, we’ve only baked together twice. (I can’t blame it all on Ari. We have time to bake. The real problem is my lack of self-control. I’m trying to take off the baby weight I gained and the less sweets that are in the house, the better it is for my waistline!)

I announced to Isabelle that we were going to make bread from scratch. I was beyond excited. After all, bread was something I could eat without feeling the guilt, of say, a piece of pie or chocolate chip cookies. However, not long after I told Isabelle about my plan, she told me she didn’t want to bake bread with me.

Once I told her my feelings were hurt, she agreed to bake with me, but said, “I’m not going to eat it.”

This morning, once the yeast came home from the grocery store, I got to work making my own gluten-free flour and measuring the ingredients into the mixing bowl — by myself. That’s right. In the end, Isabelle decided she didn’t want to bake with me. The closest thing I got to a baking partner was Ari staring at me in the kitchen from his jumperoo.

The bread smelled good so, fortunately, Isabelle changed her tune. She asked to try a slice at dinnertime.

If you read yesterday’s slice of life story, then I have a feeling that you won’t be shocked when I tell you she didn’t like it. Her loss. I’m the only one in the house who cannot eat gluten, which means there’s more for me.

Sticky-sticky dough
I sprayed the ball of dough with water, which gave it a great crust.
The dough ball looked more like a matzoh ball to me than bread.
Just out of the oven.
Nicely browned bottom.
Digging into the loaf.
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food · slice of life

Let Me Count the Reasons

At least she drank her apple juice.

The four of us tried a new restaurant for dinner tonight. Isabelle had the choice of cheese pizza, grilled cheese, or bowtie pasta. She picked the pizza.

Her personal pizza arrived before our entrees. Marc cut a section into small bites while Isabelle and I finished playing Hangman. After two bites of pizza, Isabelle decided she didn’t like the pizza. Why? “There’s something on it,” she said. (It was an extra glob of cheese.) After a few stern looks from us, she ate the “globby piece” of pizza.

But then, we heard every excuse Isabelle could think of not to eat the pizza on her plate.

  • “The pieces are so big.” (I asked her to open her mouth wide. I speared a piece and held it near her mouth to show her it would fit inside with no problem.)
  • “It looks like meatballs.” (We reminded her there was no meat on the pizza.)
  • It doesn’t taste right. (Marc acknowledged the sauce was different than other pieces of pizza she likes, but it tasted fine.)
  • “I don’t like it.” (We reminded her this is what was for dinner.)
  • “It doesn’t taste good.” (Marc told her the pizza was perfectly fine since he sampled it.)

In the end, Isabelle dug in her heels and didn’t eat more than three bites of pizza. When we returned home, Marc gave her a PediaSure to drink so she’d get some nourishment. That was it. There was no alternate food provided for her to eat.

Next Saturday night, we won’t be going out with the kids. We’re going to go out — just the two of us. I’m looking forward to a meal with no complaints!


We have an eater!

We fed Ari oatmeal a little after he turned four months old. He was unimpressed. He didn’t even know what to do with the oatmeal when it was in his mouth.

We tried again — with oatmeal — a couple weeks later. Still no success.

Two more weeks passed and we gave puréed avocado to our five-month-old boy. He spit it out — again.

But Isabelle loved avocado. And she devoured food at four months. How can Ari dislike eating? I wondered. 

Different kids. Stop comparing them, I reminded myself.
We waited another week. More avocado went in… and got spit out.

Maybe we should try a different food.

Marc suggested carrots. Rather than roast and purée a batch of carrots, I took the easy route and bought jars of Earth’s Best carrots.

Tonight we tried the carrots. And, by golly, he liked them!

Ari liked the carrots so much that he grabbed the spoon every time it approached his mouth!
food · slice of life

Empowering a Kid

Last week, I encouraged Isabelle to fix herself an after school snack rather than relying on me to do it. While I’d still handle refrigerator items (eg, cheese, veggies, or fruit), she would be in charge of pantry items, like granola bars and crackers.

Things were going along fine until 45 minutes before dinner this evening. She’d showered after returning from the pool. She beat us downstairs. As Marc and I walked downstairs — talking about what was for dinner — Isabelle’s voice called out, “I’m having a snack!”

Whaaaat? No way.

She spoke up again, “I made myself a snack… of Bunnies.” 

I glanced at Marc. We snickered & giggled. 

Look what I’ve done!

We walked into the kitchen, just 45 minutes before dinnertime, and found Isabelle snacking on not only Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies but on tortilla chips too! Nice pre-dinner snack, eh?

At least she found a paper cup to put the Bunnies in rather than spreading them all over the table.