Book Notes: The Picky Eating Solution

I have been feeling the need to increase the health and wellness of my family by increasing the health of our diet. A few of my children are very limited in the kinds of foods that they eat, and we all need to eat more vegetables! I have been reading a few different resources and recently read The Picky Eating Solution by Deborah Kennedy. The book had some helpful ideas, so I am sharing my notes here.

As I keep researching I have the feeling that one of my children may actually be beyond just a picky eater, moving into the realm of a resistant eater or perhaps some sensory issues. So I am not sure if all of the ideas in the book will actually work for him. However, we are working on our own variation of dinner rules.

“Not allowing dessert until enough dinner is eaten, especially vegetables, is a consequence, not a reward. So is have having your child each the healthy stuff before he can have the unhealthy part of his snack. This is really just a “this then that” technique you probably use every day, whereby you teach your child that he must first do one thing before he can get what he wants: exercise before playing video games, finish homework before playing outside, or cleanup your room before going to a friend’s house. If you take away the consequence, how in the world are you ever going to motivate your child to eat the healthy stuff?” (p. 59).

“Do not serve a snack within two hours of meal-time.”

Six Simple and Effective Food Rules to Live By

  1. Eat then treat. Ex: No dessert until the meal is eaten. No treat at snack time until a fruit or veggie is eaten. Not treats at all if enough healthy food was not eaten that day. Say “Oh, I see you haven’t eaten your carrots. We are having ice cream for dessert. You can have some once you eat your carrots. The choice is yours.”
  2. Establish the one-bite rule. She just has to take one bite (of a new food), then she can spit out if she does not like it. If there is not an intense reaction, then next time she can try two bites, then three, etc. Remain calm and don’t overreact. For extremely resistant children try the touch-smell-lick approach.
  3. Serve a fruit or veggie with every meal and snack. Children need at least two whole fruits and three vegetables a day. Consequence–if they don’t eat the 5 servings, then they do not get any processed treats.
  4. Limit food waste.
  5. Serve only one dinner. Give children the chance to offer input on what is served (pick the vegetable or the main dish).
  6. No “yuck” is allowed at the table. Consequence is a time-out in their room. They can say “This is not my favorite”.

Four Table Rules to Prevent Mealtime Chaos and Encourage Family Connection

  1. Everyone has a job to do at mealtime. Kids can help plan, pick, prep, and cook.
  2. Eat at the table.
  3. Electronics are not allowed at the table when eating.
  4. Whoever raises his or her voice leaves the table.

Patriotic Books to Read in July

July is the perfect month to learn more about our country and instill a sense of patriotism in our family. Here are the patriotic books we are reading this month:

Guthrie-ThisLandThis Land is Your Land. Words and music by Woody Guthrie, paintings by Kathy Jakobsen.

51m0WtKcacL._SX368_BO1,204,203,200_America the Beautiful by Katherine Bates (author) and Wendell Minor (illustrator)

61x4LRgcM-L._SX371_BO1,204,203,200_How to Bake an American Pie by Karma Wilson

51kpz8VdldL._SX432_BO1,204,203,200_How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the U.S.A. by Marjorie Priceman

619EWTAHMVL._SX407_BO1,204,203,200_We the Kids by David Catrow

61ptS0QqcBL._SY385_BO1,204,203,200_The Flag We Love by Pam Munoz Ryan

red white and boomRed, White, and Boom by Lee Wardlaw

5 Books for Friday: Fun Picture Books

I love to read fun picture books with my children. Here are five great recent discoveries we have added to our favorites list.

9781596439221Froodle by Antoinette Portis: a hilarious book about a bird who decides to do something out of the ordinary.

Hooray-for-Hat-150x150Hooray for Hat! by Brian Won: a nice lesson on dealing with grumpiness and bringing happiness to others.

143-85861-most-magnificent-thing-1417802548The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires: a great lesson on ambition and persistence through frustration.

IMG_7897-750x643Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light: a counting book with fantastic illustrations.

Prudence_Wants_a_petPrudence Wants a Pet by Cathleen Daly: a resourceful child uses her imagination in creating a pet for herself, until she finally gets the perfect one.

Book Notes: The Anatomy of Peace

The-Anatomy-of-PeaceI recently read The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict, by the Arbinger Institute. This is a great book to read, with life-changing lessons if you open yourself up to it. A good reminder of how much our way of being influences the success we have in our relationships, both at home or in the workplace.

This is a book worth reading and studying repeatedly, like Leadership and Self-deception by the same authors.

The main focus of the book comes down to The Peacemaking Pyramid. We spend our lives in either two ways: helping things go right, or dealing with things that are going wrong. It makes sense that it is better and more effective to work first at helping things to go right! The steps to helping things go right include:

  • Get out of the box/Obtain a heart at peace
  • Build relationships with others who have influence
  • Build the relationship
  • Listen & learn
  •  Teach & communicate

In the dealing with things that are going right, the only action is to Correct.

Reading both books will explain more fully what getting out the box really means, so I definitely encourage further reading and review!

The Power of Habit-Book Review

9781400069286_custom-401a0d258f36abc0afccb673d3bab1de7926e20e-s2-c85My husband recently recommended a book that is well worth reading,  The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. I found this book extremely interesting, and it caused me to reflect on the habits I have, and habits that I would like to have. It is good news to know that habits can be changed or acquired (of course), but this book went a step further and offered insights on how much habits are such a part of our life. Every task in our day is a habit (think about how you brush your teeth, or how you back your vehicle out of your garage). Habits are a good thing because they free up brain power–if you have a habit in a situation then you don’t have to think about how to act. The trick is to make sure that our habits are appropriate, and produce the desired outcome.

I also found great application in this book in my role as a parent. I worry a lot about teaching my children good habits. The section on “keystone habits” stood out to me, and I think that is what the prophets are going for when they tell us repeatedly to have daily prayer and scripture study and family home evening. With those habits in place, other good things will follow to strengthen our families.

This is definitely a book worth reading! If you want to learn more, read this review on npr. Below are some quotes from the book that especially stood out to me.

  • If you want to change a habit, you must find an alternative routine, and your odds of success go up dramatically when you commit to changing as part of a group (p. 91).
  • Some habits have the power to start a chain reaction, changing other habits as they move through an organization. Some habits…matter more more than others…these are keystone habits (p.100).
  • For many people, exercise is a keystone habit that triggers widespread change (p. 109).
  • Making your bed every morning is correlated with better productivity (p. 109).
  • Willpower is the single most important keystone habit for individual success (p. 131). Make willpower  a habit!
  • Willpower isn’t just a skill. It’s a muscle, like the muscles in your arms or legs, and it gets tired as it works harder, so there’s less power left over for other things. If you want to do something that requires willpower-like going for a run after work-you have to conserve your willpower muscle during the day (p. 137). –do it early in the day before you are worn out!
  • Signing kids up for piano lessons or sports is important. It has nothing to do with creating a good musician or a soccer star. By meeting practice expectations, they are building self-regulatory strength (p.139).
  • Write out your plan–visualize how you will act.
  • Let people (children?) have more control in their lives and their willpower will be stronger).
  • If you dress a new something in old habits, it’s easier for the public to accept it (p. 210).
  • Habits aren’t destiny. We can choose our habits, once we know how (p. 270). Once you understand that habits can change, you have the freedom–and the responsibility–to remake them (p.271).

Favorite Alphabet Books

Alphabet books can be great fun. I usually try to have at least 1-2 out of the library at a time, to work into our daily reading time. And of course, a few are in our permanent collection. Here are some of our favorites.

6949680LMNO peas by Keith Baker: lots of cute little peas with character, through every letter of the alphabet.


AlphaOops: The Day Z Went First by Alethea Kontis: what happens when the alphabet is out of order? A fun different way to look at the alphabet. We also love AlphaOops: H is for Halloween.

51EUbm+yphL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham: We discovered this book last fall at the school book fair. Poor Moose is very eager for his turn, and tries everything he can to be included.

z-goes-home-by-Jon-AgeeZ Goes Home by Jon Agee: the illustrations of the letters are great. With a little boy in our house with the special letter of Z, this book is a winner.

dr.-seuss-abc_thumb9Dr. Seuss’s ABC: this book is classic alphabet. It can be a little long, so someday we just read one or two letters and tie it into our topic for the day.

Sleey-Little-AlphabetThe Sleepy Little Alphabet by Judy Sierra: focusing on the lowercase alphabet, cute bedtime story.

chica-chica-boom-boomChicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr: classic, must have.

51+dukURzQL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Alphasaurs and Other Prehistoric Types by Sharon Werner: this book is very clever and amazing. There is a lot of text to appeal to older readers, but the illustrations and dinosaur subject matter appeal to all ages.

Amazing Action AlphabetThe Amazing Action Alphabet by See Hear Do Company: this book is more of a method to teach letters and sounds. We use this when we are doing letter of the day/week activities. But if we read one letter, the kids invariably ask to read more. Learn more about it here.

superhero-abc-bob-mcleodSuperhero ABC by Bob McLeod: great for any child who loves superheroes!

For even more ideas check out this list of 50 Fantastic Alphabet Books at No Time for Flashcards.

Books for Kindergarteners (or starting school)

It’s hard to believe that my silly Lily is a big kindergarten girl now. To help her ease into the transition, we have been reading some appropriate books!

Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? by Audrey Vernick. This book was really funny, and a great introduction to school time activities.9780061762758

Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes. Perfect story for any “worriers”.coverWW

Kindergarten Countdown by Anna Jane Hays51EPW4RCFXL._SX260_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_

First Day Jitters by Julie Danneburg. Love the surprise twist at the end.51RF262F3FL._SX260_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_

Kindergarten Diary by Antoinette Portis.8-20-Kindergarten-Diary

If You Take a Mouse to School by Laura Numeroff

The Night Before Kindergarten by Natasha Wing

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. I was hopeful that this book would help my daughter with the separation anxiety, but no such luck.

Book Review: The Secrets of Happy Families

Since becoming a parent, I’ve read quite a few parenting books. I haven’t read too many lately, since by this point I’m feeling mostly comfortable with the baby/todder/preschool years. But I was intrigued by “The Secrets of Happy Families” by  Bruce Feiler. This book is a great handbook for families who, as the author states in the introduction, “have survived the parental death march of sippy cups and diaper caddies”. A guide for families who are facing the challenge of raising children in a modern world.

The author was upfront about his goal: Instead of “5 easy steps” or “Six Simple Truths”, he strove to gather a great list of best practices for improving your family. His writing style was interesting and relevant. Confession time: Reading a non-fiction book usually takes me months (or longer) to finish, but this book pulled me in and I had it finished in less than week.

I did like how a lot of his ideas rang true to the principles I have studied in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World“. It is always nice to see the world, and research, catching up to the words of inspired prophets.

So if you are looking for some new ideas or best practices to try at home, check this one out. Below are my notes.

Happy Families consistently:

1) Adapt All the Time: think agile. Have weekly family meetings. Adjust and make changes as needed as you go along.

2) Talk. A Lot: Create a family narrative. Your children should know your family history. Share stories about parents and grandparents, especially their successes and failures.

3) Go Out and Play: Make fun. Play games. Take vacations. Have get-togethers. Invent goofy traditions. “Whatever makes you happy, doing it with other family members will make your family happier.”

Since reading this book I’ve been reflecting on our family traditions. Traditions are so important and give your family identity. What does it mean to be a Tanner? Chineese food for Christmas, dad making biscuits for Sunday breakfast, setting off our own fireworks for the fourth of July, etc. I like the idea of goofy traditions–so I’m on a quest to see how we can strengthen and add to our traditions.

“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions”–Dalai Lama

Ideas for Family Meetings: 1) What went well in our family this week? 2) What things could we improve in our family? 3) What things will you commit to working on this week?

The Agile Family Manifesto: 1) Solutions exist 2) Empower the children 3) Parents aren’t invincible 4) Create a safe zone 5) Build in flexibility

Chapter on Family Dinner–“What you talk about is more important that what you eat (or when you eat it)”

Hunger Games for mealtime: Word of the Day, Autobiography Night, Pain Points (bring up a dilemma that a family member is facing, work together to devise solutions), Word Game Night (thesaurus, alliteration, fill in the blank, whats the difference between?), Bad & Good (Share a bad thing about the day, then share a good thing)

Chapter on creating a family mission statement.

Chapter on how to handle marital conflict.

Chapter on allowance. Bribe your children the right way: “Here is five dollars. If you add three vegetables this month, you get to keep it. If you don’t, you have to give it back.”

Chapter on talking to your kids about sex. “It’s not a talk. It’s a conversation.”

Chapter on how you organize and decorate your home says a lot about your family. Arrange your furniture to enhance your family priorities.

Chapter on family vacations. Being prepared with a checklist, work in mission impossible or amazing race type games into your vacation to build excitement and strengthen family bonds.

Chapter on sports: Don’t pressure your kids. Just “Shut up and cheer!”

Chapter on family reunions.

Book Review: In Defense of Food

Lately I have been thinking more about the type and quality of food that we are eating in our home. We definitely have some room for improvement. I recently discovered an interesting blog, Word of Wisdom Living. I haven’t looked through it extensively yet, but one of the books they suggested reading is “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto” by Michael Pollan.


This book was really fascinating. Basically the point of the book, or the manifesto, is “Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.” The following is from the Word of Wisdom blog review of the book:

“Pollan exposes the problems with modern food.  He soundly condemns the practice of nutritionism, the practice of looking at the nutrients in food individually, thus losing sight of the synergy of nutrients working together in their native milieu.  Taking nutrients out of their natural context has led to the industrialization of food, as well as today’s foolish trend towards functional foods” (source).

I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in healthy eating habits. I particularly liked the Rules of Thumb for Healthy Eating (listed below) included in the last section of the book, since they gave me specific guidelines and ways that I can make improvements in our diet, without having to drastically change the way we eat.

My notes from the book

“Nutritionism–the belief that food is foremost about nutrition and nutrition is so complex that only experts and industry can possibly supply it” (p. 200). With the advent of nutritionism, people are very confused and worried over what to eat.

“Modern civilization has sacrificed much of the quality of its food in the interests of quantity and shelf life” (p. 97). Interesting to note, studies of isolated populations eating a wide variety of traditional diets had no need of dentists.

The story of refined grain: grind the wheat kernel and remove all the healthy stuff and your left with worthless white powder. Scientists then discover that vitamins have been removed, so the “fortify” the bread to put the good stuff back in. But can they really put everything back in? What are they overlooking.

Soil Problems: “Chemically simplified soil produces chemically simplified plants”. Since the 1950s, “the nutritional quality of produce in America has declined substantially” (p. 115). Basically “you now have to eat three apples to get the same amount of iron as you would have gotten from a single 1940 apple” (p. 118).

The rise of diabetes: “Medicine is learning how to keep alive the people whom the Western diet is making sick” (p. 135). The solution: Stop eating a Western diet!

“As technology reduces the time cost of food, we tend to eat more of it” (p. 187). Microwaves make for easy cooking, so we eat more.

Spend more money on healthy food, rather then on healthcare costs!

Rules of Thumb that are Conducive to Better Eating

Eat Food

  • Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. Also, don’t eat anything  incapable of rotting (ie. twinkies).
  • Avoid food products containing ingredients that are a) unfamiliar , b) unpronounceable, c) more than five in number, or that include d) high-fructose corn syrup.
  • avoid food products that make health claims.
  • Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle.
  • Get out of the supermarket whenever possible (shop farmer’s market or CSA box instead).

Eat Mostly Plants

  • Eat mostly plants, especially leaves.
  • You are what you eat eats too.
  • If you have the space, buy a freezer.
  • Eat like an omnivore (diversity).
  • Eat well-grown food from healthy soils.
  • Eat wild foods when you can.
  • Be the kind of person who takes supplements.
  • Eat more like the French. Or the Italians. Or the Japanese. Or the Indians. (a traditional diet has proven the test of time)
  • Regard nontraditional foods with skepticism (ie. soy prepared in innovative ways, as opposed to traditional tofu)
  • Don’t look for the magic bullet in the traditional diet (ie. the glass of wine that is the key to everything)

Not Too Much

  • Pay more, eat less. (Eat good quality food. Learn to recognize your body’s signals and stop eating when you are full). “The better the food, the less of it you need to eat in order to feel satisfied” (p. 188).
  • Eat meals. (Cut out the snacks)
  • Do all your eating at a table.
  • Don’t get your fuel from the same place your car does.
  • Try not to eat alone.
  • Consult your gut.
  • Eat slowly.
  • Cook and, if you can, plant a garden.

Let it snow!

Did you get snow over the weekend? Quite likely, since 49 of the 50 states now currently have snow. I, however, am living in Florida, where snow continues to be elusive and just out of our reach. In my mind, January should equal snow, so this week we have been making our own.

Make and Takes suggested using coffee filters for cutting out snowflakes. Let me tell you, the filters work wonderfully. Already in a perfect circle shape, and they are a little thinner and easier to cut through for little fingers. They were well worth the 97 cents I paid for 100 filters (although I did feel a little weird buying coffee filters, since that isn’t something I have ever consumed…)

We have them decorating our windows and hanging from the ceiling.

Later this week we plan to add a little color to our snowflakes. And when we get tired of our filter snowflakes, I think we’ll make a few out of q-tips.

Thanks to Confessions of a Homeschooler, the Sweet Bee and I have plenty of preschool activities to keep us busy. Today we had fun with the snowman matching card. We matched number clothespins with the appropriately numbered snowman, then counted and put each snowman in order.

Here are the books we are reading to complete our snow-themed bookshelf:

Snowmen At Night by Caralyn Buehner

Snowmen All Year by Caralyn Buehner

Thomas’ Snowsuit by Robert Munsch

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton

Stella, Queen of the Snow by Mary-Louise Gay

For more snowy ideas, check out my Snowy Fun post from 2010.