They Can’t Live on Watermelon and Corn Alone

I love summer foods. The variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables can keep me fed and happy all summer. My kids, however, don’t appreciate the bounty quite as much. Summer squash, eggplant, asparagus, bell peppers, and tomatoes that actually taste like tomatoes do nothing for them. How many times can I feed them watermelon and corn on the cob? (Answer: infinity) Sure, they’d eat fresh berries all day every day, but I’m not made of money so they can’t.

I need to get healthy fruits and veggies into them because a diet made strictly of hot dogs, watermelon, corn on the cob, and ice cream is only good for so long. With our summer schedules, I’m often not home thinking about dinner until ten minutes after my kids tell me they are starving for dinner, so perfectly square meals are out. With this in mind, I try to get their veggies in early in the day.

I have a two-pronged approach:

1) I grow a small, selective vegetable garden. Generally, I only grow things that my kids enjoy eating straight out of the garden. Namely: snap peas, string beans, and carrots. I’ll ask my kids to check to see if we have enough beans to collect for dinner. They then stand in the garden and eat all the beans, and report back that we don’t. “Oh, really? That’s too bad. Do we have any peas?” A few minutes later, “Crunch, crunch, crunch. Nope!” Done. Kids have consumed their veggies and I don’t have to worry about it again.

2) Smoothies! In one fell swoop I can fill them up with healthy fruits and vegetables and then not think twice about the fact that we’re having breakfast for dinner again. Smoothies are extremely forgiving- they don’t require any measuring, particular kitchen prowess, or exactitude- and my kids love them.

6 Tips for Better Smoothies

1. A good blender is key! 

  • I love my Ninja blender. Before it came into my life, I didn’t know one could love a blender. I’ve had joe-schmo blenders before, but this thing is different, better, and worth every penny. I can put such a giant handful of spinach into this blender and know that it will be blended into undetectable smithereens within any smoothie. Trust me, this blender is ah-mazing.

2. Spinach!

  • I usually keep a large container of fresh baby spinach in my fridge so it’s easy to grab a handful to throw into every smoothie. Just in case, I keep bags of chopped spinach in the freezer which also can be easily (and stealthily) added to smoothies. You can also portion out and freeze fresh spinach if you happen to have a ton of it.

3. Frozen fruit

  • You can buy large bags of frozen mixed berries in the supermarket. I avoid the bags that contain strawberries because they are often huge and don’t have much flavor, whereas the raspberry, blackberry, blueberry combos provide a powerful punch of nutrition and flavor. Try frozen peaches or mangoes too! Did you go fruit picking and come home with 12 lbs of blueberries? Freeze them!

4. Bananas

  • Bananas provide a wonderful texture for smoothies and help make them more filling. Have bananas getting too ripe on your counter? Peel and freeze them. A frozen banana is no challenge to the Ninja blender! I always have a bag of peeled bananas in my freezer, which is handy for when the fruit bowl runs low.

5. Greek yogurt

  • Packed full of protein, greek yogurt is a great addition to smoothies. You can avoid having to add any additional sweeteners to your smoothies if you start with a base of flavored greek yogurt. My kids’ favorite is Honey Vanilla. (I buy the full fat version for my kids because they need the extra energy, but low fat or fat free versions can easily be substituted.)

6. Get Creative!

  • Need a smoothie that will stick to their bones a bit longer? Add a tablespoon of peanut butter.
  • Want to get some healthy fiber and oils into your kiddos? Add some chia or flax seeds.
  • Only have plain yogurt on hand? Add some honey or juice for sweetness.
  • Add ice to thicken up a smoothie, milk to thin it out.
  • Add any fruits you have on hand, fresh or frozen.
  • Make freezer smoothie packs – in individual ziplock bags add your favorite combos: a handful of spinach, a peeled banana (or half), a handful of berries or sliced peaches, etc. Simply add the freezer pack to some yogurt and milk in the blender and voila! Your kids’ daily dose of fruits and veggies in one delicious drink!

Between my garden and my blender, I know my kids are getting enough fruits and veggies every day no matter how unstructured our summer gets. How do you make sure your kids get the nutrients they need, assuming they need more than just watermelon and corn on the cob? Do your kids willingly eat veggies? Do you hide them? Or do you use dietary supplements to make sure their nutritional needs are met?

Vitamins Infographic

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by KnowYourOTCs educational program which has provided me compensation to write about the safe and appropriate use of OTCs. All content, views, and opinions are my own.

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Guilt and Photography

I feel like my life, parenthood especially, is a constant struggle against time. Time is moving too swiftly or too slowly, leaving me either breathless in its wake or frustrated and eager for what comes next. My coping mechanisms, of which I have two- guilt and photography- are inadequate.

When I think of how quickly my kids are growing up my heart squeezes with the early pangs of nostalgia. All too soon my house will be empty of squeals and giggles and the pitter-patter (actually much more like elephant thumps) of little feet. As much as I long for peace and quiet, I know that’s my eventual reward and I don’t want it too soon. I may crave physical space, (must we always be touching?) but I know that I will never again have the heat from their small forms curled affectionately against my body; my hand will be forever bereft of their little hands to hold. I will no longer be the embodiment of safety and comfort.

Stay young, kids. Stay naive and sweet and full of that open bursting joy that comes with childhood. Stay small. Stay here- in my arms, under my roof, driving me crazy- for a while longer.

I’m sorry I’ve been impatient. Yes, I want to hear you sing that song again. Yes, I’ll watch your cartwheels and bike tricks and monkey bar accomplishments.

Another snack? Sure, my darlings.

Yes, I will tuck you in again and read another story. I’m sorry I get annoyed when you come back downstairs. Let’s go up together and savor these moments.

Anything. You can have anything and everything from me.

Guilt and longing. So I take photos. I take hundreds of them trying to freeze time, hold on to this. If I can capture that messy haired, barefooted moment of exalted summertime little-kid-ness, then it will stay with me forever. If I take photos of all of this, then surely my guilt will be assuaged.

Look, life, I’m not impatiently waiting for them to get bigger and put themselves to bed. I’m savoring. SAVORING! So you can slow down a bit. I get it.

But it doesn’t slow down. It can’t. Click.Click. I take more pictures.

At the same time, these very same people who I long to hold onto but who move through my arms inevitably, liquid and beautiful and unattainable as quicksilver, drive me completely crazy. Their noise and movement are constant and relentless against my senses, completely overwhelming. I just want a break.

Just a moment’s peace, please! Please stop asking me for this or that.

Please let me walk away. No, I don’t want to watch.

Please stop fighting.

Do you have to make noise at all times? Can’t you be still for just a moment?

Seriously, you’re hungry again?

Look around you at all we’ve provided for your enrichment and entertainment. You have books and toys and bikes and a big yard with a freaking swing set in it! There are hoses and sprinklers and balls and a stream and woods full of mysteries to explore!

Go! Go away and do the things!

Puddle gazing

Oh, look how adorable! Heads together they study some small puddle. Click.Click. And now, look how they chase each other around the house on their bikes. Click.

Their shouts and laughter follow them as they move through their world at a dizzying pace, everyday growing infinitesimally larger, infinitesimally closer to leaving all of this behind for the trappings of bigger kids, leaving me behind as a relic of their littleness, no longer wanted as desperately as I’m wanted now. Click.Click.Click.Click.

Guilt and longing. So I take photos.  

Why I’m afraid of summer vacation

Summer vacation is around the corner and I’m afraid. The hours of unstructured time yawning before me, stretching unfathomably far into the future, have me quaking in my flip-flops. The very fact that I’m filled with dread speaks to my clear maternal deficiencies. According to the internet, other mothers feel excited about all the “quality time” summer affords them. They see sprinklers, trips to the zoo, and happy exhausted children experiencing childhood without the stress and rigors of school. I see something much more sinister that mostly involves whining, yelling, tears over dropped popsicles, and sweat.

Are my children worse than everyone else’s? Perhaps other people’s children wake to a day of nothingness and think: I can ride my bike, read in the shade, chase butterflies, and enjoy my youth today! Mine don’t. Mine wake up early and already bored; the water in the sprinkler is too cold and the sun at the amusement park is too hot; the water guns got run over by the lawn mower and they don’t wanna read a book in the shade.

I suspect that it’s me that’s worse. The other mothers head off their children’s boredom by constantly organizing outings and activities. My children are insatiable though. We could spend all morning at a water park only to have them complain of boredom before we’ve made it out of the parking lot on our way home. They will play games, but only if I play with them. And here lies the crux of the problem: I don’t want to play with them. (See what I mean about maternal deficiency?) Those other mothers must enjoy the time spent with their children. I love my kids. I really do. Just thinking about them squeezes my heart in that slightly uncomfortable desperate way. But I like them more in theory than in practice.

At five and eight, their charms are not quite fully developed. Their jokes suck and their manners leave much to be desired. They’re not very good at games; they cry easily; and they whine and complain over every discomfort and delay – a mosquito bite or feeling peckish is the end of the world. I’m not much of a people person to begin with, but if I have to be around people I prefer adults, specifically the ones who have actually interesting things to say, actually funny senses of humor, and basically never ever fart on me.

We have some local day camps which my kids love. It’s a win-win situation as none of us really excel at dealing with unstructured time. The drawback is my guilt over sending them. After all, I’m supposed to be cherishing this time because it all goes so fast. Soon my little kids will be big kids, worse teenagers, and then they’ll move out and I’ll pine for these days. Today’s guilt transformed into tomorrow’s regret. They want so badly to play with me now and they’ll want nothing at all to do with me soon. Now’s the time I have to instill all the values in them, build the trust so they come to me when they’re grappling with serious problems, make sure they never drink and drive. I should be doing all of that while we cut star shapes out of watermelons and cover the driveway in chalk art.

But no matter how much I wish it, I’m not that Pinterest mom. I can’t keep my house organized with just 2 minutes per day, and I can’t spend a day with my kids without all of us fraying our last nerves. And so I’ll live with dread now, guilt soon, and regret further on. Bring on camp!


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