Friday, March 15, 2013


One tip that is well-known by parents of "picky eaters" is to involve your kid in the kitchen.  Studies have shown that if a kid helps prepare food, he is more likely to eat it.  It has to do with taking ownership and feeling pride, but for more extreme kids like Caleb, it also has to do with being exposed to the food in a neutral and friendly environment.  Every time he can touch his food, or maybe get a little on his finger and lick it, he gets that much closer to wanting to actually ingest it.

We've had problems being able to involve Caleb in his own food prep.  We can't exactly have him flip his chicken in the frying pan, or use the can opener on his can of green beans.  Pretty much everything else he eats is fresh (like fruit), so it doesn't take any prep.

Then I see all of these good moms who bake cookies with their kids and I get a little jealous.  I'd love to create treats with Caleb.  But his food restrictions come into play once again, and we're left trying to do more painting and outside play and reading and everything else that we do to remind ourselves that you really can have fun without involving food.

But, food can be fun, too, and it is a necessary part of life, and we do spend every day trying to get Caleb to eat something by mouth.  So of course I want to have fun in the kitchen with him.  It's just hard.  And the hardness of it sometimes makes me a little bitter towards food.

But then I found this gluten-free cake mix that basically contains nothing but rice flour, potato starch, xanthan gum, sugar, salt, and chemicals.  It called for butter and eggs and such, but instead I used a can of club soda that was made with nothing but water and chemicals.  (We love chemicals here!  Caleb may react to "natural flavors," but not "artificial flavors.")  Since the club soda had a bit of a bitter taste, I added some artificial almond extract (nothing but chemicals!), some sugar, and some pure cocoa powder (which is Caleb-safe).

I hushed the inner voice in me that always says, "If you don't make a mess, you don't have to clean a mess up" and let Caleb not only stir but help spoon batter into the cupcake liner!  (Alright, alright, I wasn't going to let him fill the liners, but he started to do it anyway and I didn't want to turn our fun little afternoon together into a "STOP THAT!  YOU'RE MAKING A MESS!" fest.  The whole goal was for Caleb to have fun.  So I let it happen, and I was pleasantly surprised when he dripped a tiny bit and tried to wipe it up with a paper towel. He is my son after all.)  :)

 Every time his hand would dip into the bowl, I would encourage him to lick it off of his fingers before cleaning it off on the towel.  He was a fan, which kind of surprised me. :D
Licking the bowl, of course! ;) 

 His first bite!  So exciting!  I made frosting by blending up pure granulated sugar and mixing it with rice milk.  Regular powdered sugar contains corn starch, which Caleb can't have.
Having leftovers the next day--he wanted me to take his picture.  :) 
 This is his "I'm biting down and this cupcake doesn't stand a chance!" face.  :)
The aftermath.  Eventually he didn't want to nibble any more (he never really took any real bites, just little nibbles), so before allowing him to get down from his seat, I told him that he had to lick his fingers.  Yes, finger-licking is highly encouraged in our house.  Again, if he can have a tiny taste of food, in a way that's fun and different, then we will eventually make progress with actual eating in a more socially acceptable way.  So licking his finger eventually led him to say, "My finger is dirty!"  So I would say, "Oh, it's dirt!  Don't lick it!  That's so gross!"  And he would lick the chocolate off and I would say, "Ewww!!  That's gross!"  We had great fun, and he actually made a dent in his cupcake!

The cupcake making went well, the cupcake eating went well, and some time we'll do it again!  Maybe we'll make some marble ones, or just vanilla, or find other artificial flavoring extracts to try to change it up.  It was fun to feel "normal" for one afternoon, and it's awesome to be able to give Caleb a little more variation on his plate.  And come November, he can have a birthday cake for only the second time in his life!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Caleb's favorite

One of Caleb's most favorite things to do is read books.  Going to the library once or twice a month is like Christmas to him!  One of his all-time favorite library books in called Hondo and Fabian.  The illustrations are so sweet, and it's a wonderfully soothing book for bedtime.  Hondo is a dog who goes to the beach to play with his friend Fred.  Fabian is his fellow pet, a cat, who stays home and plays with the baby.

Of course, Caleb has to spice it up by replacing "Hondo" for our own dog's name, Meggie.  He also replaces "Fabian" with our own cat's name, Captain Hook.  Hondo's friend, "Fred," is Auntie Jenna's dog, Sadie.  And the baby is our very own Baby Russell.

Without further ado, here is Caleb reciting his rendition of Hondo and Fabian: (he's a little quiet, but if you turn it up and enlarge it, you can see the words on the page, which will help you understand him)


Caleb wanted to color the other evening, so we let Russ have a go at it, too.  He was a big fan!
He even held his crayon properly!  (Caleb has never once held his crayon correctly.)  He is also obviously right-handed, like his brother.  I suppose I'll have to be ok with being the only southpaw in the family.  Darn.
Russell's longish attention span definitely contributed to his success with coloring.  It's a weird adjustment for me.  I'm not used to having a kid who can stick with the same activity for over two minutes!

 Then this morning we did a "craft" at the request of Mr. Cal.  Caleb painted a sun catcher on his homemade light table (which is pretty cool, if you ask me--and just ask me if you want to know how I made it and what I use it for).
 Russell colored with crayons...until he started biting the tops off of his crayons, at which point I took them away and he had a 30-minute meltdown.

Here is a video of Russell coloring for the first time.  He's got it down!  His little feet get going like that when he's especially happy.  :)  He had to get up at the end of the video to dance for a second while Caleb sang Good Time (by Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen).

Monday, March 4, 2013

Boy's Best Friend

Caleb is growing up (*tear*), so it was about darn time we got him a decent white button-up shirt to wear to church.  It was Saturday night, and we were excited for him to wear it for the first time the next day...when we realized that he didn't have pants that matched his one and only tie.  So, I sewed him a new tie that would match his pants.  Now I need to sew him some pants to match his old tie!  And a few more ties, since they were oh so easy and insanely cute!

He was excited to wear it when we woke him up on Sunday morning.  I told him, "It's a bow tie, like Donald Duck's tie!"  He said, "No, Donald Duck's tie is red, Mommy!"  And so it is.  I should have known.

He left it on all day, and when we got home from church I was going to take pictures right away.  Then I noticed that he fell in the mud on his way to the door.  Oops.  Oh, well.

We went out to the front porch anyway, and El Capitan joined us.  Caleb is in love with this cat.  And the cat is the best cat I've ever known.  He puts up with so much from that toddler!  He's the perfect balance of affectionate and aloof.  And he's so pretty!  He's not a boring, plain ol' short hair, but his hair isn't so long that we find it everywhere.  You would never know that he naps on my bed now and then.  No pile of hair.  It's great.

So what was going to be a photo shoot to capture the adorableness of Caleb's Sunday best turned out to be a photo shoot to capture the bond between a boy and his cat.  And he happens to be wearing an adorable (yet dirty) outfit.

 I told Caleb to give Captain Hook a kiss.  So sweet!
 Then Caleb told Captain Hook to give him a kiss...and he DID!  Notice the tongue on Caleb's cheek?  How perfect!
 So much joy on that sweet little face.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Smarty Pants!

Every time Russell finds a rag or a wipe, he "wipes" up whatever is nearest to him.  The chair, the floor, the book....This is one of those milestones that took Caleb FOREVER to meet.  I always thought it was because I didn't spend enough time cleaning my house.  ;)

It's interesting to see how smart my boys are in different ways.  Caleb gets a lot of credit for being smart because he talks so much and is so witty and social.  He has an amazing memory and can learn anything that we set out to teach him.  He can command the attention of a room by laughing and asking questions and being so darn cute.  I remember his first birthday party.  He knew that the day was about him, and he soaked it up.  After his first few bites of his cake, everyone began to mingle and eat and talk among themselves, and Caleb realized that he wasn't the center of attention any more.  So instead of crying for attention (which is what most 9- to 12-month-olds would do), he burst into laughter!  The whole room noticed and thought it was adorable (it really was!) and they all laughed along.  He has always had that kind of personality.

Then the other day Russell pushed the step stool up to the wall so he could reach the light switches!  That's something that Caleb never thought to do until the past year!  Russell is very aware of his surroundings.
 He also pushed the step stool up to the kitchen table and climbed on up.  He was pretty proud of himself.  Then Caleb thought, "Hey, that's not a bad idea!"  So he climbed up, too.
Russell is also very self-aware.  For a while now he has been "helping" to put his clothes on by putting his legs up for me, stretching his arms out, etc.  Caleb still has problems with that.  He's so caught up in talking to us while we dress him that he lets his legs go into the same leg hole, or puts his arms out of the neck hole of his shirt without realizing it.  It's quite frustrating at times!  He also won't pick up his feet when I lift him out of the car seat, so they drag along and get caught in the crook of the car seat and his boots get pulled off.  Not fun to fix when he demands to put them on by himself in the parking lot in the snow and cold.

Anyway, the point of this is not to compare my kids.  I just love that they can be individuals.  They're both so smart in such different ways, and I think that's great.  I hope I can raise them to help each other, not to compete with each other.  It's just so fun to see them blossoming into individual little people with strengths and personalities and wants and dislikes.  They're so incredible in so many ways.