Fun Kids Riddle: Animal

Fun kids riddle animal
Why did the leopard wear a striped shirt?

Tips For Picky Eaters

tips picky eaters - fruit

Many children go through a phase where they are a picky eater. It can be a hard experience for a parent because everyone gets frustrated. Children aren’t happy at the table and parents don’t want to constantly feed their kids junk food just to get them to eat. This blog post has some tips to help you make it through the picky eating phase.

Control

You wouldn’t like it if someone put you in a chair and told you exactly what you were going to do—and kids don’t like it either. This section explores easy ways to give your kid more control over their dinner.

Give kids control over the menu
That doesn’t mean you should eat pizza every night. Offer your kid a choice between two meals (or two side dishes, salad dressings, etc) that you don’t mind them eating. They will be more likely to eat if they chose to eat it (even if it is a healthy option you approve of).

Give kids control over their place setting
To help children feel more in control, let them win battles you’re willing to lose. Buy some special plates and let them decide which ones to use. Let them choose their utensils. Who cares if your child has two forks—unless of course you’re eating soup!

Respect “I’m not hungry”
Some days I’m famished and other days I can barely eat a sandwich. Kids are exactly the same way. If they’ve been running around at the playground all morning, they’ll probably eat more than that rainy day the family watched movies. When your child says they aren’t hungry, respect their decision. You can always feed them more later that night. Just make sure they aren’t skipping dinner to have a midnight snack of ice cream!

Education

I’m a big believer that kids should understand where food comes from and how it is made. If people aren’t connected to their food, they’re less likely to eat well.

Take children shopping with you
You don’t have to take them shopping every time you go — and you certainly don’t need to include them when you’re going for a three-hour, massive shop. But it’s important your kids occasionally swing through the produce section with you. How do you pick out a good apple? What do you look for when buying cauliflower? Show your children the care you give the groceries and teach them how to pick out bananas that are the perfect ripeness for your family.

Cook with your kid
I believe food should be a celebration. It’s amazing that food keeps us alive. Teach your kid what you know about spices; explain which ones go well together. Show them how you measure flour when you bake or how to crack an egg. These are all important life skills. Plus, what kid wouldn’t want to eat pancakes they stirred by themselves—even if it has some whole wheat in it!

Fun

Make mealtime fun. Sitting down with the family should be a happy experience. Tell jokes. Talk about your day. Ask your child questions. (It’s a great time to check up on how school is going.). Avoid phone calls, text messages and television if you can.

Temperature
It would be boring to eat the same food at the same temperature everyday. But the great thing about foods is that they come in every temperature. If your child won’t eat their veggies, try frozen peas instead of steamed ones. (Grapes are also great frozen if they’re missing fruits). Experiment with different temperatures and see if that lures your child back to the dinner table.

Dips and Sauces
Also experiment with dips and sauces on veggies. Buy two different types of hummus and try them both with carrots. Which one did your child like better and why? There’s nothing wrong with putting sauces, dips or salad dressings on vegetables, as long as it’s in moderation. (My son will only eat carrots with hummus!)

Sneak in Baby Foods
Jars of baby food and bland tasting veggies like zucchini are a great way to sneak veggies into other meals. Add a jar of carrot or cauliflower baby food to your macaroni & cheese. Finely shred zucchini into cakes and muffins. If you use a bit of creativity, you can get a jar of baby food or a shredded veggie into almost any meal—except, perhaps steak!

Things every parent can do

There are also some things you can do to make your life easier even if your child doesn’t cooperate.

Set a good example
Kids will always refuse broccoli if Dad does. Be a good example for your kids and eat the same foods you’re trying to get them to eat.

Don’t make 100 meals each night
You are a parent, not a chef. Don’t cook ten different meals each night so everyone in the family is happy… all you’re doing is wearing yourself out.

New foods take time
It can take kids many nights before they’ll actually like a new food. If they don’t like carrots one way, try them another. If you keep exposing them to spinach in different forms, eventually one might become their favorite!

Be consistent
Make a consistent dinner schedule at a similar time and create patterns that the child can expect. Don’t force them to eat cabbage one night and then tell them cookies are ok the next. Don’t allow TV one night at the table and then expect them to talk about their day the next night. Have a predictable routine so kids know what behavior is consistently expected of them when they sit down.

Food isn’t a reward
Don’t use food as a reward for kids. You’re setting up bad habits for your kids if they associate junk food with being good. Similarly, you shouldn’t comfort your kids (when they scrape their leg) with a chocolate bar. That trains them to turn to food when they are feeling miserable as an adult. Remember food isn’t love. You don’t love your children any more by serving them cookies.

Pick your battles
No rule should be 100%. Pick your battles. If nobody has any energy, there’s nothing wrong with eating pizza in front of the TV. Just make sure that’s not their normal meal…

Good luck and happy eating!

Teaching Toddlers Manners (Before They Can Talk)

toddler manners

Like most kids, when our son learned he could point and make noise to ask for something he wanted, he also realized he could ask really loudly and aggressively to get our attention. That made my wife and I ask ourselves how can we teach manners before our son can talk?

The Secret of “Tah”

The solution we came up with was using “tah” instead of the word “please”. “Tah” was easy for him to say and we made him say it in a nice voice before we gave the object he wanted.

At first we just told him to say “tah”… then once he got the hang of it, we told him to “ask politely” whenever he forgot.

The change has been remarkable. Instead of constant screaming and pointing, we now have a son who points and asks nicely for what he wants. He learned it pretty quickly since there was the strong, immediately motivation of getting the toy he couldn’t reach.

Sign Language

Many parents use sign language as a tool to talk with their toddlers before they have learned to talk. However, our son was never interested in it so it didn’t work for us. From the moment he could make a sound, he wanted to make different sounds for different needs.

If you have a child that is interested in hand motions, sign language is a great way to say “please”. “Please” is signed by making small circles around your heart with one hand.

Our friends who have had success with sign language recommend using it yourself. It’s much easier for a toddler to understand “please” when he seems mom and dad using it with each other. Who knew toddlers learned through repetition?

Please Doesn’t Mean Spoiled

Just because a child says “please”, doesn’t mean they always get what they want. That’s called being spoiled. We’d never let our son play with a boiling pot of water simply because he said “tah”. However, both “tah” and sign language were a great introduction to manners.

Any other techniques we missed? Leave a comment and let us know how you taught manners to your young kids.

Trapped In Your Thoughts

banana easy solution

Recently our son caught a stomach bug. We were grateful it was pretty mild, but he was still uncomfortable and not very interested in food. No matter how much we offered him, he refused to eat very much.

The next day, he woke up screaming. My wife and I were sure he was even more sore from his cold and we weren’t quite sure how to comfort him. We brought his favorite toys and even some things he’s not normally allowed to play with. Nothing was working.

On a whim, I brought him some food. He pretty much leaped off my wife’s lap to grab it. He had already finished what I brought him by the time I could return with more. My wife and I were so “trapped” in the idea of a stomach bug, that it took us a while to see the obvious answer: he hadn’t eaten much for two days and was famished.

This got me thinking about how often we are all trapped in our thoughts. We get so focused that we only see one possible solution — and we get frustrated when that solution doesn’t work. So next time you’re banging your head against the wall, remember that your solution could be as simple as a bite of a banana. Take a step back. Brainstorm other alternatives. Try things you wouldn’t have normally tried and hopefully you’ll have your solution in no time.

How To Make A Monster Costume

monster costume
Did you know that you can make a monster costume just like Lizzie did in Monsters Midnight Feast? For your costume, you’ll need:
1. Construction Paper
2. Scissors
3. Tape
4. Glue
5. Other Craft Supplies

Step 1: Make a Hat

Make a paper bandanna by cutting a few long strips of construction paper about as wide as your thumb.
Try wrapping one around your head. If it’s longer than your head it will work perfectly. If it’s shorter, you’ll have to staple a couple strips together until it’s longer than your head.
Get a piece of tape ready for the next step.
Wrap the long strip of paper around your head so it crosses your forehead and is above your ears. Once you have it fitting snugly on your head, use a piece of tape to hold the bandanna together so it doesn’t change sizes.
Carefully remove the bandanna. It should look like a big circle. Add a few staples over the tape so it doesn’t come apart.
If you have trouble getting the bandanna to be the right size, ask a friend or family member to help you. It’s easier with a second person. Congrats! You’ve finished the hardest step. Time for some fun…

Step 2: Decorate the Hat

Cut the construction paper into different shapes. Make triangles, circles, leaves, squares or any other shape you think will help you blend in with the monsters. Feel free to draw designs or pictures on them. You can even put glitter on them—just make sure it dries before you continue! All these shapes will help disguise your head from the monsters.
Attach the shapes to the bandanna with tape or staples. You can also attach the shapes to pipe cleaners or long strips of construction paper before attaching them to the hat—that way they’ll dangle down from the hat.
Feel free to attach any other craft supplies you have around the house such as: googly-eyes, feathers, leaves, pipe cleaners, shells, glitter, sand or pebbles. Just don’t pour fish juice on your hat like Lizzie!

Step 3: Make Monster’s Eyes

Next you’ll make the monster’s eyes that you can tape to your shirt. Cut two circles out of white paper. It’s best if they are the same size.
Here’s a tip for making the eyes the same size: Fold a piece of paper in half and then cut out the eyes so you are cutting both halves of the paper at once.
Decorate the monster’s eyes by drawing on the eyeballs. What color will they be? Will both eyes be the same color?
Humans usually have two eyes, but monsters can have as many or as few as you want. Make ten eyes or just one—it doesn’t matter since every monster is different.
Tape the eyes to a t-shirt. This looks the coolest if your shirt is a solid color. The costume looks less real if you have a picture printed on your shirt. If all of your shirts have pictures on them, you can turn one inside out. Always use tape to attach the eyes to your shirt. Never glue or staple them because that will ruin your shirt.

Step 4: Make the Monster’s Teeth

Cut large teeth out of white paper. Sharp, pointy, triangles work the best for scary monsters.
Tape the teeth to your shirt just like you did with the eyes.

Step 5: The Final Touches

Use anything you have around the house to disguise the rest of your body. For example:
* Wear a blanket over your shoulders like a cape.
* Wrap a towel around your waist like a skirt.
* Use any Halloween costumes you have in your closet.
* Stuff your shirt with small pillows so you look bigger than you are.
* Cover your hands in mittens.
* Use a belt to make a tail.

Step 6: Enjoy Being a Monster!

When you’re finally disguised as a monster, go have a snack in the kitchen, sneak around your backyard, get your parents to take a photo or have a monster party with your friends. Just don’t scare your brother or sister. (Okay, you can scare them, but don’t blame me when you get in trouble!)

How to Make Sugar Cookie Envelopes

Sugar Cookie Envelopes

If you just read Dax and Zippa’s Great Mail Mix-Up, you probably want to make envelope sugar cookies, just like the Zickerton Bakery!

Most families already have their favorite sugar cookie recipe. But if you don’t, you can either buy pre-made dough or use our recipe. Skip to “Making the Cookies” if you already have a recipe.

Sugar Cookie Recipe

1/2 cup Butter (100 grams)
1/2 cup Sugar
1 Egg
1 1/4 cups Flour
1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla

Mix dough. Bake at 350F (180C) degrees for 6-8 minutes.

Making the Cookies

Start by washing your hands. Trust me, you’ll want to.

Prepare the sugar cookie dough according to your recipe and heat up the oven.

Form the dough into rectangle cookies instead of making circular ones. I like cookies that are twice as long as they are tall. You can roll the dough out and use a rectangle cookie cutter, but it’s just as fun to form the dough with your hands. I put a big spoon of dough on the cookie sheet and then squish it into a rectangle with my hands. (I told you you’d want clean hands!) Just make sure the cookies are all the same thickness because that helps them cook better.

Bake the cookies according to the recipe and let them cool. This is a good time to trick your brother or sister into doing the dishes.

Decorating the Cookies

Prepare the frosting. If you don’t have a good frosting recipe, don’t worry because it’s easy to make frosting with powdered sugar.

1. Put one cup of Powdered Sugar in a bowl.
2. Add water VERY slowly. (I mean very slowly. I usually turn the kitchen faucet on so it is dripping and then hold the bowl under the faucet).
3. As you add water, keep stirring until you have a nice, thick frosting. If the frosting is too thick you won’t be able to squeeze it. If it’s too thin you can always add more powdered sugar to make it thicker.

Add color to the frosting (optional). If you want colored frosting, add a few drops of food coloring and stir it in. Just be careful since food coloring can stain your clothes. Dax’s favorite color is blue, but any color will work.

Put the frosting in a zip-lock bag with a spoon. Squeeze any air out of the bag and zip it back up.

Cut a tiny corner off the bottom of the bag. You’ll be squeezing frosting out of this hole. The smaller you make it, the more precise you can draw with your frosting.

Decorate the cookies. This is where you can let your creativity shine! There’s no right or wrong way to draw an envelope so feel free to try anything. Squeeze the frosting out of the bag onto the cookies.

There are two basic envelope designs you can follow. The first is to make the back of the envelope. Squeeze frosting in a big rectangle around the edge of the cookie. Then draw a triangle for the flap of the envelope.

You can also decorate the cookies like the front of an envelope. The middle of the envelope is where you write the name of the person you are mailing it to. In the middle of your cookie, write someone’s name or make squiggly lines that look like writing. In the upper right corner, design your own stamp. Stamps are often square, but you can make any designs you want.

Hope you enjoy!

Thanksgiving Bruschetta Recipe

thanksgiving cranberries

For Thanksgiving last year, my wife and I wanted to add a holiday Bruschetta to the meal… so we came up with this recipe. Hope it is a great addition to your November as well.

Ingredients
Cranberry Sauce
Onion
Walnuts
Feta
Sour Dough Bread

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).
Slice the bread and place on cookie sheet.
Spread a thin layer of cranberry sauce on top of the bread.
Sprinkle with onions, walnuts and feta.
Bake for 8-15 minutes. Everything is already cooked, so you are just warming it up.

Varieties
* Add Rosemary
* Add Garlic
* Use French Bread instead of Sour Dough

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