Book review: French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters

I’ve been making more time for myself again by doing some reading. I don’t know about everyone else, but in my house we have 2 picky eaters. One of them is a child, one is my husband (insert knowing look or chuckle here). Colin, my oldest is certainly a blessing with how he will eat, or at least try everything. Crab legs are a new favorite of his, and he loves hummus and carrots for snack. He isย  my dream eater! Alex, on the other hand, not so much. He would survive off: chicken nuggets, yogurt, strawberries, broccoli, and goldfish. Bonus point for strawberries and broccoli yes? However, he will boycott eating whatever he does not like on the table. He does not care if he gets sent to bed without dinner, as he knows breakfast will greet him soon enough. Eli, oh lord, MAJOR picky eater. On his list of not happening: chunky tomatoes, onion (chunks), peppers (I’m Italian so this is driving me nuts!), any other vegetable, all fruits except perhaps apples and watermelon, and anything healthy (quinoa, other grains, etc). This has always been a major problem. I was raised in a house of 2 options: you eat what you got, or you get nothing. It worked out GREAT! I spent many an evening at the table, long after everyone left with my food. However, I ended up eating it and got over it. I tried multiple different foods, and my parents preferred for us not to order off of children’s menu’s when we went out. In need of some fresh perspective I came upon this book:

bookThe author: Karen Le Billon was living in Vancouver with her family. Having married a rustic frenchman, she found herself under constant scrutiny by his family. Her children were picky eaters. To top it off their manners weren’t so hot either. Since both her and her husband had the opportunity to move to her husbands village, they took the chance. Karen wanted her children to have the experience of French living, and to see how it would benefit her family.

The first thing she found out was, the villages did not have grocery markets. Here of course, I have 4 major grocery stores within a 5 miles radius. As ridiculous as it is, its also super convenient. Karen had to train herself to go to the village market (which is comparable to our farmer’s markets) and stand in line to shop for the freshest food. Unfortunately, the villagers did not take so kindly to a foreigner living in their village. Her husband of course was accepted having been from there, but her, not so much. Throughout the book, I found this to be the major problem of the author. No matter what she did, or how much she accomplished culinary wise, she was never truly accepted by the village. She was seen as too Western. By the end of the book, although Karen had made leaps and bounds with her children, the isolation of the village and people sent them back to Vancouver.ย  So France’s rulers work, but their people leave something to desire.

There were multiple rules that were listed in the book, and while interesting, I don’t think I would apply them all. To get the children used to a new vegetable she would give them the puree, then graduate to soup. Call me stubborn, but I still think its whatever is on your plate is what you get. The biggest rule, that stuck out to me was how French children don’t snack. American’s snack, we are told now to have 6 small meals a day. Alex gets 2 snacks at school, Colin gets a morning snack. If I get hungry, I’m bound to munch on something at home, and same goes for Eli. Well, the French don’t believe in this. They find snacks ruin your appetite, and are not necessary. I did experiment with this, and they’re absolutely 100% correct. On the weekends, I would give the kids no snacks, and they ate ALL their main meals. During the week I did not give a snack if it was a late pick up (4pm), and low and behold, they ate more of their dinner. Hungry bellies are more apt to eat their meals. I don’t see it as torture or punishment, because instead of giving some goldfish, or a cheese stick, they waited til dinner and had a fully rounded meal. Alex actually ate dinner, and didn’t complain as much. Why, because he knew he wasn’t getting anything else, and he already didn’t have snack. Did he really want to risk being THAT hungry?

The other important rule in our family was slowing down. Granted, we could slow down to French standards. According to the book, their meals would be sometimes 2 hours long. YIKES! Now if it was a dinner party, or holiday this wouldn’t be a problem, but a weekday? No way! We did however, make sure we ate all of our dinners together, at the table. We slowed down and made sure no one rushed, and discussed their day. It was wonderful to hear the jokes, stories, and woes of the day. It gave more insight to our kids lives, and they fully enjoyed the extra attention. So, yes we will definitely keep to slowing down. Even though Eli isn’t home for every meal, its important for the kids to have the normalcy.

The rest of the book is certainly a good read. There are triumphs, and moments where you really feel for the author. At the end, as I stated earlier, they move back to Vancouver. Once there, they find out how its almost impossible to keep to the French rules in North America. We are used to the hustle and bustle. Of course her kids wanted snack at school when all the other kids had them. However, she also found out there was something to be said for the freshness of the village market. I would almost call this book Under the Tuscan Sun with children. I definitely recommend it and if anyone has tips for picky eaters I’d LOVE the advice!

Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself

Ah, one week since I’ve posted anything. Truthfully, I’ve been in tremendous pain. After an appointment with an oral surgeon today I found out my wisdom teeth need to come out. They’re infected, and starting to make my bone line swell. SO AWESOME!

Behold these beautiful babies

Behold these beautiful babies!

Looks like I will be getting them out next week so, that should be fun.

I made a long overdue jump today and got my license updated. I hadn’t changed my last name on my license and took care of it today. They even gave me a new picture:

license

Well, that could have been soooo much worse. Especially with some tooth pain! Thank goodness for AAA offices, as I was in and out in 15 minutes! I’m officially a Soto, and wearing my pride well ๐Ÿ™‚

Speaking of pride, and the title of this entry title. I am tired of having to live up to other peoples “idea” of how my life should be. I had the misfortune of hearing how some people think poorly of me for staying at home with my kids. That they “have to work for a living, and it must be nice to stay home and play”. You know what I say to that, you’re absolutely right, it is. What is more important is that we sacrifice to do this. I got my priorities straight almost a year ago. For anyone to assume that I don’t miss aspects of working they would be a fool.

I still have my Mommy blues days, where I feel completely unmotivated. I miss seeing my friends more often, and I miss bringing in money. What helps it is helping Eli with his business and knowing I’m contributing. What helps is taking pride in my home, and raising my boys the way I want them raised. I consider it a blessing that I can take the time I can with them, and that I’m not spending only a few hours with them a week. I WON’T apologize for that.

Envy is a terrible thing. Perhaps, I don’t post enough about the bad things so people can feel better about my life.

An old friend from school had posted an article recently.

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/03/please-dont-envy-me-the-facebook-status-everyone-should-read/

It is an article about how envy has been created with social media. Facebook, gives a glimpse into someones life, as does this blog. People have normal lives, no ones life is perfect. As a Mom we already have the expectations of ourselves, the parent we want to be. It is SO hard to try to live up to others expectations as well. You have the Mom’s out there who are on their soap boxes about what they do right in parenting. How they feed their kids, milestones, shoving health notices down our throats. There are the Mom’s who create perfect crafts, meals, parties, and more. What happened to just being Mom.

What is wrong with not perfectly organic food every now and then, dirt on elbows, and having legos all over your coffee table? I don’t have anything to apologize for in my life. I am living my life for me and my family. We are not perfect, but we are perfectly happy.

eleanor

 

Season of sacrifice

That time of the year has finally arrived here in our household. I call it: Open Fence Season. Eli owns a fence company. So while we have been blessed enough for him to work through past winter’s, spring officially kicks off the full schedule. Sometimes this means over 12 hour work days, and working on weekends. If weather puts the schedule behind, I’ve even sacrificed Sundays. So, I call it the season of sacrifice because it’s really, me, on my own.

Granted, this was outrageously stressful years back when Eli started out, because we were very low on funds, and I was home with 2 very young children. I felt isolated, depressed, and plain stressed out. The past 2 years of course were a different kind of stressful. I would work all day, and come home to being alone.ย  Now, God bless my Mother in Law, because while I was working, and Eli’s schedule was insane; she would get the boys and bring them to her place. Some days the boys wouldn’t get home til at least 8pm! This added to the very long list of pro’s for me leaving work. I needed the boy’s to have semblance of normalcy, and they would ask why we both had to work so much. It also helped my Mother in Law, because the boys would have her exhausted as well! To top it all off, I really had all the household work as well. How could I ask Eli to come home after working say, 14 hours in the sun, but do the dishes??? As much as I LOATHE housework, at least I’m not doing a 9-5 , running around, and doing the housework.

This year, I have a new outlook on life in general. While I have my not perfect days, most of them I have ideas and get out with the boys. We have been working on a bucket list for the summer! Being out of the depressed funk that I was in, definitely makes me more motivated to get out. Anyone else do this on their own sometimes? Obviously there are single mothers, military wives, but I’ve met line workers wives and more that go through the same time. What idea’s does anyone have about just getting out?

Colin’s involves a lot of beach time, mini golf, and ice cream. Alex’s involves, swimming, marshmallows, and bubbles ๐Ÿ™‚ Mine involves, staying active, getting some sun, the beach, the lake, and hiking. Well, maybe with some ice cream mixed in! Have you created a summer bucket list?

 

Weekend games, playtime, and sneaking in Mom time!

It finally feels like spring!!!! I have been taking full advantage of being outside, and a little less time on here.

This past weekend was a great stress buster. My good friend is a dancer in the Greater Hartford Dance Academy, and they were having their big show for the year. So, I went with a couple of my other friends for the show. We “pre-gamed” at Maggie McFly’s with drinks and appetizers. The show was phenomenal! I don’t have any pictures, because they aren’t allowed; but it was really amazing! It also didn’t not help my baby fever for a little girl. Little girls, and tutus….sigh one can dream, right??? After the show we went to a rooftop bar which was a first for me. After some margaritas and spinach dip, we finished off the night. It felt SO nice to feel like an “adult” for the night. Sometimes it feels wonderful to just be with your friends, laugh all night, and enjoy life.

Recital picture

The Monopoly Junior obsession is still going strong in the house. Somehow even the Junior version can take hours, and Colin is competitive! Now, he wants other versions of the games to try them out. I do like how the Junior Party version limits how many properties the player can have. It makes it seem more fair to little ones. I remember my sister and I having loooooong games, and I had to borrow money from her in the game. PS, shes better with money than me even now! Needless to say, Monopoly Junior Party, is a family favorite!

Monopoly

I made sure to take Alex for a haircut this weekend. He had graduation pictures yesterday for preschool. While that may seem unnecessary to most, the pictures are actually super cute. I can’t believe its been 2 years since Colin left preschool. Check out his graduation picture:

Colin's GraduationHOW cute is that!?!?! This year, the photographer had the kids bring in their favorite stuffed animal and book. Their cap and gown is also a more royal blue. I’m so excited to be there for these things! Alex of course enjoyed getting his hair cut. We take the boys to one of those more kids friendly hair salons. When we used to take Colin, he would scream and HATED getting his hair cut. When we found this place, it was completely different. The little ones, pick out a car to sit in, and can watch a movie while getting their hair done. The older kids, get a normal chair and can play a game, or watch something. They do a great job, and I’m happy to have it tear free!

Alex hair

Finally, this weekend I took the boys to a new playground in Hamden. It is called Josh’s Jungle. They have been trying to raise money for this playground for a few years, and it is finally here! The playground is completely handicap accessible. So, if there is a child in a wheelchair, they can access everything on the playground! The ground was that rubber,bouncy type floor. If you’ve been to a Disney playground, its the same flooring. The whole playground was composite materials, so no splinters! We spent a couple hours there, and the kids are already begging to go back!

Josh's jungle On a side note, 3 people told me today (and its only 9:30am folks!) that they are noticing that I lost weight. They said I look great, and wanted to know what I was doing. Talk about an ego booster!!! I think others always notice first when you lose weight. It takes awhile for me to see it, but this time my pants feel bigger, and I see more curves. Its really fantastic getting healthy.

With that, I have a load of work to do today, and want to make sure I get out for a run!