Hooper Eats.

An Update.
When Kary left, it all seemed so simple. Everything made sense. We had a plan; rules and suggestions taped to the fridge as daily reminders. And even with those daily reminders, I found myself wanting so bad to be consistent despite the fact I was consistently forgetting what we were supposed to be doing. The reality is that many of us eat three times a day. That’s three solid times a day, for over two years, that we have become comfortable with bad habits. Things like, “I’m going to take your food away because it appears that you are done”, practically shook as they came of my tongue. I felt like a big burly man in a women’s dress: not comfortable.
There was no instant gratification. Not one new strategy implemented brought immediate reward. Entire meals were being skipped left and right. And, once again, tension returned to the table as Willy reverted back to threats of time outs while I pressured him to stick with the plan despite the plans ineffective appearance.
It’s hard to be a parent. And it’s hard to change behavior.
We floated through the three week trial period keeping to the plan as best we could.
After about a month, this is where we’re at:
-We have a mealtime routine. It consists of cleaning the table, washing our hands, setting the table, putting a record on, and then sitting down to eat. The same way that brushing teeth and putting jammies on signals bedtime, this routine signals mealtime. We’ve been good at sticking to this and he understands the concept of mealtime. He also understands that there is no TV until everyone is done eating. We’ve made the mistake of turning on the TV, in hopes he would eat, but have learned that this is ineffective unless we spoon the food into his mouth. Which leads to the next update…
-We no longer spoon feed Hooper. At all. Sure, we slip up at times and encourage him to eat the food on his plate (we’re not supposed to encourage him at all) but our days of loading his spoon and bringing it to his mouth are done. I feel relief with that, like I was carrying giant piles of wood from one location to another location only to have my boss come in and tell me that, in fact, I don’t need to carry shit and that I’m better off sitting on my ass. Now there’s a rule I can abide by. If doing less means doing more, I’m all in.
-Meals are faster. This ties in to the fact that we’re no longer spoon feeding him. Trusting him to feed himself has made meals quicker because, well, he doesn’t eat that much on his own. I’m not sure this is necessarily a good thing, but I’m rolling with it because it follows the same conclusion I came to before: Less is more. I’m trying to remind myself that my job is to provide him with healthy choices and his job is to eat as much or as little of it as he wants. I also have piece of mind knowing I can rely on the snacks that we’ve added.
-We haven’t added a new food to every meal. I knew this would be hard for us to do with each meal, so I mentally committed myself to one new food a day but haven’t been great at even keeping to that. We’ve been told from Kary that toddlers need to see/try a food sometimes 20 times before they try it/ like it. It feels so silly putting things on his plate over and over again that he does not even touch. It’s also hard because my own diet lacks a lot of variety so going to the store and buying different food just to put on Hooper’s plate for “looks” seems silly.
-We’ve resorted to giving him food he likes to make meals easy and to give us the confidence that our new game plan is working. I realize, in writing this, that that confidence may be false but we need an “easy” meal every now and again to keep our sanity. Our goal is to not cook separate meals for Hooper, ever, but more times than not this has equated to the fact that his dinner goes completely untouched. He’ll happily declare his meal as being “done”, bring his full plate of food to the kitchen, and move on to playing with his toys. When this happens, it’s hard to keep to the rule of keeping the snack that follows “snack sized” as we both get anxious about sending him to bed hungry.
-He knows he is at risk for having his plate taken away if he gets up from the table. Sometimes this works great and he runs back to sit back down and eat his food. Other times he’ll happily say he is “done” despite not eating a single bite. It’s been a struggle not to get upset with him when this happens. Keeping our emotions at bay is an ongoing struggle. It can be so frustrating to watch him happily refuse a meal you took the time and energy to make. Add in the worry of him missing a meal, and yeah, it’s all an emotion struggle.
-It’s been frustrating allowing him to refuse to eat food that we know he’s ate before (when we spoon fed him) and liked. We had chicken pesto pasta, for example, and he ate all the pasta but left all the chicken. There’s a handful of meals he “ate” before that he will not now that we’re leaving it up to him. In this sense, it feels like there is even less we can give him that he will eat now that we’re trusting him to feed himself.
-As time passes, I can feel us slipping back into old ways. It will be a continuous challenge to make the rules a habit. I fear we we’ll revert back to doing whatever works for the day to day struggle, losing site of the larger picture.
To be continued…
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Van @ 12 Months

Growth & Appearance: People keep asking us if you have red hair. To me, it appears brown on top and blond in the back.
You have four teeth on top and four on the bottom.
You love wearing shoes on your feet which is funny because I have yet to put shoes on your feet. Instead, you’ve picked up on the fact that we all wear shoes and in an effort not to be excluded, you come crawling up to me often with your brother’s shoes in your hand pointing at your feet.
You’re wearing size 4 diapers, size 18-2T clothes. You seem incredibly tall.

Eating: You’re still a champion eater, but you’ve developed some preferences. Some days you simply eat more than others. And you may refuse something you loved just the day before. When you don’t like the food sitting in front of you, you like to swipe your hands from one side of the table to the other making food fly everywhere. Sarah loves this.
You’ll eat, or at least try, everything. Your current favorites are watermelon and bananas.
I’ve cut our breastfeeding sessions in half with hopes of weaning, but then I got emotional about it, so we’re sticking to four feedings a day plus 1-2 bottles of frozen breast milk. You’re able to drink from the bottle on your own.
You have a serious desire to use silverware. You’re always wanting to be just like us. Your ability to do so, however, sucks. It does keep you entertained, so oftentimes we give you a spoon.

Sleeping: You are officially attached to your blanket. It’s funny how that happens. You love to snuggle with it and often point and whine while you’re on your changing table until I grab the thing out of your crib and put it in your arms. Then you like to put it over your face and play peek-a-boo. You’re quite the peek-a-boo fan these days.
We had to move the noise maker out of your crib because you not only figured out how to turn it off, but also how to reach your little arm out of the crib and unplug the cord from the wall.
Breastfeeding puts you to bed most nights, but some nights you’re still awake when I put you down. When this happens, we can hear you playing with your activity center. Eventually you fall asleep on your own, without a fuss.
You wake up around 8am, nap from 10:30am to 1pm, nap from 4:30pm to 6pm, and go down for the night around 9:30pm. When we’re out and about, we forgo the second nap. Sometimes we pay the consequences, but most of the time you function off of whatever sleep you get in the car.

Talking: More than words, you point and whine. You point at everything and expect everyone to obey your commands.
You’re good with D’s and are able to say “down”, “done”, and “dog”. You say “hello” whenever you have a phone in your hands. “Boon” is “balloon” and “ka” is “car”.  And, oh yes, you say “mama”.

Development: You dance anytime there is music on. In fact, one of your favorite things to do is to crawl over to the record player, pull yourself up, and turn the music up as high as it goes while you drop it like it’s hot.
To say you’re still crawling is kind of a lie. You’re more like motor-crawling. You’re faster than all hell and often crawl up on all fours without your knees touching to get wherever you’re going as fast as possible.
You’re able to stand without holding onto anything, but it always has to be on your own terms. Anytime we try to put you down on your feet, you drop to the floor. But when you’re playing, you’ll let go of whatever you’re holding onto and stand without a problem. You’ve taken a couple steps on your own.
You like books, especially the touch and feel books. You’ll grab a book and bring it to me to read to you.
I have little doubt that you are right handed. You do most everything with your right hand.
You’re a climber. You love climbing onto chairs and rocking back and forth. It’s totally safe and not scary at all to walk into a room and find you on top of a chair rocking back and forth. The other day Papa found you in the bathroom; You had climbed into the empty bathtub and were playing with your toys.
You suck your thumb, but not on a regular basis and not for any real length of time.
The toilet paper is almost always unraveled from the roll and the baking supplies are almost always strewn about on the kitchen floor. We ought to childproof the kitchen cupboards, but there’s not much in there that can cause anything more than a mess.
You’re still ridiculously strong. You love pushing your highcahir all over the house. And when your arm comes down on my chest when we’re playing on the floor, there is definite force behind it.
You love to laugh.

Favorites: Hands down, the four wheeler is your favorite. You spend the better part of the day on that thing and have got quite good at maneuvering around every corner of the house. You’re on that thing so much that when you opt to get down, we comment that you’ve chosen to “de-saddle”.
You love using a pen and paper. I think you got this from Hooper. My pens are constantly missing from my desk. You also love playing with the plugs; unplugging the record player is a daily occurrence.
My computer mouse is always on your wish list. And you love balloons.

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30/52

A portrait of my husband, once a week, every week, in 2013.
Willy and I both say how lucky we are with our work schedules. I work part-time, which for nurses means I work two days a week (granted I leave at 6am and get home at 7:45pm on those days). And oftentimes Willy’s able to work from home. This is what working at home looks like. Well, not always… If we’re being honest here, most days work-at-home involves the door to our bedroom locked and a tantrum throwing toddler on the other
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side begging to see his Papa.

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Breastfeeding

photo source
I’ve completed my goal of breastfeeding for a year and, despite huffing and puffing at times, it’s been an enjoyable experience. Endings are always that way, aren’t they? Endings make you forget the struggles and remember the good times all for the sake of the positive memory. I gather that’s why many of us go on to have second and third children; because we forget what being pregnant in those last few months feels like and we forget how it feels to have every organ in your body feel like it’s going to fall out of your vagina after giving birth, choosing only to remember the joy of seeing the plus sign on that stick you just pissed on and the complete and utter elation in holding a freshly born baby, your freshly born baby, for the first time.
The memories of my hair being constantly pulled on and living my life in two hour increments is beginning to fall to the wayside as I start to enter the mourning phase of the fact my baby is no longer, well, a baby and that the days of him crazily crying when I get home after a day a work, eager to connect with me again, are also going to fall to the wayside.
Having Van was never a debate for us. We knew we wanted a minimum of two kids, maybe three. Now that we have two healthy boys, having a third has become a debate. I want a third. I didn’t hang on each moment of pregnancy and babyhood like it was my last. And now, it saddens me to know that I may never breastfeed another child.
My relationship with breastfeeding is nearing an end not only because I’ve reached my goal but because I physically cannot go much further. Van loves solids and ever since he started embracing the idea, my milk supply has decreased. There was a time when I pumped 14 ounces in the morning, then it plateaued to 8 ounces, and now I’m lucky to get 5. I have decided to trust that what I make is what he needs and now that I’ve reached my goal of a full year, I’m less neurotic about my supply.
I started to wean last week and got emotional about it, so my plan at this point is this: I will leave the weaning up entirely to Van. I will not stress about being away from him and I will allow the stress of maintaining my milk supply show it’s way to the door. And I will hold on to these last few weeks, or months, knowing that it could be the last time I have this privilege.
Currently I’m breastfeeding four times a day and supplementing with 1-2 bottles of breast milk from my ridiculous frozen stash supply.
When did you decide to end your breastfeeding relationship? Was it difficult? Do you miss it?
You can read my other posts on breastfeeding by clicking here

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Summer

One night, as some friends and I walked out of our book club meeting, I said, “Lately I’ve been feeling very wistful. Childhood is speeding by so fast. It’s such a cliche, but it’s true.”
“I know exactly what you mean,” one friend answered. “Whenever I get annoyed by the mess stuck to our refrigerator door, or about having to keep a stroller in the hallway of my apartment, I remind myself that these are the good old days.”Gretchen Rubin (as seen here too)
Side note: Many congrats to Darby, you are the winner of the Little Sweet Pea
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giveaway. Remember you can still get free shipping with coupon code StorkFreeShip.

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Happy Birthday, Van

Dear Van,
I sat and watched you play this morning as the morning light poured in through the family room window and painted a glow around your bare naked body. Frustrated that the phone you were playing with closed shut (it’s a flip phone, something you’ll probably describe as ancient in ten years), you looked toward me with furrowed eyebrows and mouth open in disarray. I flipped it back open and you kept playing.
It’s summer and the days have been reaching the triple digits. We’ve been running the air conditioner even at night and despite the all-encompassing heat outside, it’s comfortable – if not cold – inside. So, before your morning nap, I put a shirt on you.
Today, I chose a green one with a dinosaur on it. It was neatly folded in your drawer, waiting to be chosen as it sat on top of all the others. It’s the first time you’ve worn this shirt. I moved it from your brother’s drawer, straight to your drawer, just a few days ago.
And that’s how life has been as of late — fast.
You turned one yesterday and I love you like you could never believe.
Mama
Side note: I’ll be announcing the winner to the Little Sweet Pea giveaway tomorrow. Remember you can get free shipping with coupon code StorkFreeShip.

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Then & Now

I’d say it’s amazing how fast a year goes, but that’s so cliche. Instead, I will say that with my first-born, every day felt like a marathon. I felt like that newborn phase was going to last for the rest of my life. When I had my second,  my perspective was much better. I knew it’d be a hard year and then it’d get easier.
Before I had kids, I couldn’t think more than a week ahead. I lived life day by day and rarely planned for anything and had a hard time committing to something unless it was going to happen the next day.
The days are long but the years are short, or so they say.
One year ago today I was sitting in the very same room as I type right now, in a birthing tub. This picture is obviously poor quality but it tells a story. The beginning of the story, anyway. A paper bag with a plastic bag in case I got nauseous (I didn’t), the sliver of the elbow of my midwife watching over me just barely making it in the right part of the frame, the birthing supplies in a trash bag on top of the pin ball machine that sat there un-used and taunting me for weeks (I was two weeks late), and Willy looking halfway helpful and halfway helpless.
I say it only tells the beginning of the story because we don’t have photos of the EMT’s who eventually came and had to transfer me butt-booty-naked in an ambulance to the hospital. We had our birthing plan all mapped out and, ultimately, we had to go with plan B.
Life doesn’t always go the way you plan it, does it?
And within ten minutes of being at the hospital, with one nurse pumping up and down on my stomach as if my heart were in my abdomen and I was in full cardiac arrest (clarification: I was not in cardiac arrest) and with some doc I had never met pulling and twisting, Van was born. All nine and half pounds of him.
On the days I work, I pump in a lactation room on the postpartum unit. I watched the other day as a newborn was wheeled past me and as I sat down to pump milk for Van, I thought how crazy it is that that little glow worm will be crawling and communicating and socializing in, what feels like, a blink of an eye.
Right now, Van is napping. I breastfed him while he held on to his blanket, his latest obsession, and laid him down in his crib. He quickly rolled over, hugging his blanket to his chest and sticking his little bum high up into the air.
One year. Three hundred and sixty five days. Fifty two weeks.
The days are long but the years are short; It’s true.
You can read Van’s entire birth story here

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Hooper @ 32 Months

Growth & Appearance: Your hair is growing longer and is often in your eyes. You don’t seem to care what-so-ever, so we’re letting it grow until you can tuck it back behind your ears. You’ll be the girl we never had and a pretty one at that.
You hate brushing your teeth as of late, especially the top front teeth, and thus they are yellow every now and again. You have no one to blame but yourself. The neighbors probably think we’re torturing you every night before bed.
You’ve grown out of all of your size 2T pants both in the waist and in the height. It’s possible that this happened a while ago, but we haven’t been wearing pants due to the triple digit heat and when I tried to put them on you the other night… well, it looked like you were ready for a flood.
You’re tall and thin.
Eating: Grrr… the dreaded topic of eating. Some nights you are just a downright pain in the ass. Feeding you is rarely easy. You’re not motivated by food at all. I made you try a bite of watermelon the other day and you pocketed it in your mouth until I asked you to spit it out 20 minutes later. It was watermelon, for goodness sakes. Even at a birthday party the other week, you carried around your cupcake until the thing nearly fell apart from being carried around for so long. I’m at a loss as to what to do. I’m still making you smoothies and you do eat well, but the struggle is unbelievable at times.

Sleeping: Your naps have been hit or miss as of late. You either nap for 2-4 hours, poop your pants and then refuse to nap, or refuse your nap from the get go. It depends largely on what you did the day prior. You missed your nap two days in a row, for example, and on the third day I woke you up after 4 hours of napping. Your schedule looks like this: wake up around 8:30am, nap around 11am to 2pm, bedtime around 9pm.

Talking: You add a lot of plurals to things that aren’t pleural. We kinda like it, so we don’t correct you. For example, you brought me a toy and referred to it as “brokens”. You saw money in a tip jar and referred to it as “monies”. And when you saw us walking with Van, you said, “brother walkins”.
You have a lisp with all of your S’s. You Papa mentioned taking you to speech therapy, but I think you’ll grow out of it. I guess you can blame me if years from now you’re still thrusting your tongue into the back of your front teeth.
I heard you having a full on “conversation” with your brother but I couldn’t understand exactly what you were saying.
Comparatively, I think you’re a little behind in speaking than other kids your age, but you’re constantly adding words and saying new things so I’ve never thought twice about it. You’re able to communicate all your needs and wants, even if it’s just through whining, which happens often.

Development:
You can catch a ball. I ask you to put your hands out, you do, and then I toss you the ball and you catch it. This leads to a touch-down type celebration and almost instantly Sarah joins in the fun and then things just get out of control.
You like to march. Not sure where you learned this or how you know it’s called marching.
You started swim lessons. You definitely don’t love it, but you don’t refuse to do it either. Instead, you sit there with your bottom lip out and awkwardly say “hi” over and over again. You don’t interact with any of the other kids.
You started horseback lessons on the days your Nina has you. I hear you like it.
You like to draw and are starting to pay attention when I tell you what shape is what.
You’re a spitting machine and like to spit on everything. Initially I ignored it, hoping that if I didn’t pay it any attention it would go away. It did not. Ask your Papa, he got it right in the face. It’s your new thing.
You play a game your Papa calls “magic hand” before bed. This is when your hand hasn’t popped through the sleeve of you pajamas and you pretend that it magically appears, thus “magic hand”. Then you hide your hand behind your back and play it all over again.
You flap you hands wildly by your side and refer to them as your fly-fly wings.
In general, you’ve been sweet as can be lately (minus the spitting). In particularly, you’ve been extra loving toward me, greeting me with big hugs when I come home and coming up to me randomly throughout the day for unsolicited hugs. You’ve also been sweet to your brother, asking to “pet him” often.

Favorites: Your favorite books are “Wacky Wednesday”, “Go, Dogs, Go”, and “The Bike Lesson”. You’re still obsessed with watching Curious George and I’ve welcomed it as a nice reprieve for when I need a moment of silence. We started some crafts, like painting, and you have artwork on the fridge to show for it. You love playing with the “nah-der” (water) outside. And, oh yes, your cars are still a big hit.

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29/52

A portrait of my husband, once a week, every week, in 2013.
I typically hate taking photos in our neighborhood. It’s so suburban and it rarely speaks to me in that inspiring take-your-camera-with-you way. But there’s something about this photo that I love and feel like I will love even more later… when, years from now, we’ll be flipping scrolling through old memories and Van will ask questions like “was that our old house?” and a jar full of memories will come spilling out… about how we put our blood sweat and tears into that home. See, it’s not the story that this image tells now, per say, but it’s the story waiting to be told years from now that puts that little lump in my throat.
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Brothers

Dear Hooper & Van,
And just like that, you like each other. Well, some of the time at least. Van, whenever you’re napping, Hooper wants to see you. Like really wants to see you; as in he pulls at my leg and tugs
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at my arm until I get up off my butt and walk toward your door. Hooper, you’re always disheartened when I tell you Van is sleeping.

That little tidbit is first and foremost.
Hooper, you’re learning to share you toys and your space. Not that you have much of a choice, as Van is constantly in your space and constantly wanting to do whatever you’re doing. Your answer to this is to move him out of the way. I’ve caught you trying to drag him from underneath his armpits until he’s out of your path. You need to eat some more protein, however, because more times than not you are not able to move him and you’re left having to ask for help cuz’ he’s “heav-vee” (heavy).
Loving how you love each other… at the moment, anyway.
Mama

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Summer

We headed down to Duke’s the other night for dinner and ate at their barefoot bar. After dinner we went down to the beach to watch the sunset. It was a bit cold and Hooper pissed his pants but the sunset was nice and our bellies were full.
Also, Hooper’s poncho came c/o of Lishyloo. And my apologies for the Spring/summer video that keeps coming on automatically. I tried to turn it off, but have had no luck. It should be gone tomorrow. Sorry for the annoyance. Ho hum.

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Bits + Pieces

I’m allergic to mornings too (shirt c/o Sweet Threads) // Dreaming of eating the rocks outside // A flower on our way to dinner // Hoop escaping // Play time in the crib // Hanging plants at my 95 year old grandma’s house (yes, she lives independently) // A first birthday party that ended with Hooper being swept off his feet // Potty training is complete, he’s trained // Conejo Valley Days Carnival a few months ago (I’m so behind) // And what bits + pieces would be complete without Hoop with those fings in his mouth?
Happy (almost) Friday!

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Hooper Eats.

This is a continuation post. You can read the first two posts in the series by clicking here.
A glimmer of hope.
Our Occupational Therapist, Kary came over and joined us for dinner. Willy cooked a mild fish with rice and peas. We followed Kary’s instructions and ignored Hooper while we ate. One by one, he ate his peas (not shocking, as it’s one of his favorites). We had a record playing and were enjoying adult conversation, sharing stories of parenthood intermixed with advice on how to improve our current situation. And for the first time, in a long time, the table was a fun place to be.
Apparently Hooper noticed it too because he stuck around. Sure, he got up a few times to go do this and that but each time he came back around to see what we were all up to. And to our surprise, as conversation and laughter weaved it’s way over the table like the aroma of the food itself, he ate his fish. On his own. Every bite. Willy and I took turns exchanging oh my gosh glances like a freaking comet was passing right by our window. Kary kinda chuckled and exclaimed that it doesn’t usually go that well so fast.
And as we walked her to the door and thanked her a thousand times over, I thought we may just have a child prodigy on our hands. Problem fixed.
Oh the ignorance.
I’ve always believed that life gives you only what it knows you can handle. Van is a good eater because I’d probably rip off my toenails one by one if I had to deal with another poor eater. And that glimmer of hope was just that: a glimmer. Exactly what I needed for what has turned out to be an otherwise uphill battle. But oh that glimmer sparkles bright as a reminder of what could be and what will be so long as Willy and I are able to keep to our roles.
The following rules were given to us by Kary.
The Rules
-No more than 20-30 minutes for a meal. When 20-30 minutes are up, take the plate away. If he protests, tell him mealtime is over. If he’s still hungry, remind him he can have a snack in an hour.
-Offer a new food at most meals with one or two preferred foods.
-Be consistent. Consistency will teach Hooper what you expect of him. Try using a mealtime routine.
-No getting up from the table more than three times. When he gets up from the table, ask him if he’s done. If he says “yes”, take his plate away and excuse him from the table. If he says “no”, have him sit back down. Do not keep asking him if he wants to come back- only if he’s showing you he does by hanging around the table and trying to get attention.
If he is done and barely ate anything (or chose to not eat at all) don’t make him something else until snack time (one hour later). Then you can make him a preferred food so he gets something in his belly but keep it “snack” sized.
If he wants to eat his dinner after you’ve excused him (more than 3 times) tell him the meal is over but he can eat again in one hour (you can bring the food back in 15 minutes since at this age he can’t tell time). Have him sit back at the table with the same meal. If he doesn’t want the same meal and is asking for something different, tell him he needs to wait until snack time (truly one hour later).
-Stick with statements, not questions. Examples: “It looks like you’re done” versus “are you done?” and “Mama would like to share this with you” versus “Do you want to try some?”.
-Create an environment you would want to be a part of. The more relaxed, fun, and enjoyable the table is the more likely he will be to join in.
-You are in charge of the what, when, and where of a meal. Hooper is in charge of whether or not to eat anything and how much he wants to eat. Trust Hooper to know what his body needs as long as you are giving several opportunities to eat healthy foods.
-Give small amounts (2 tablespoons) of each food you are eating with the meal and let Hooper ask for more. If he is filling up on just one thing, tell him that’s all gone but if he’s still hungry you can have (______) instead.
-Try to give small rewards for trying new foods (not food rewards and not big rewards). But don’t make a big deal; the less attention, the better. Wait until the end of the meal to give the reward and/or praise.
-NO putting food in Hooper’s mouth for him. If he decides not to eat, that’s okay. (Ignore our rule breaking photo evidence above).
-No encouraging him to eat a particular food on his plate. If you really want to encourage him to eat chicken he has left on his plate, for example, don’t mention the chicken at all but if he asks for more of anything (like pasta that was also part of the meal) tell him it’s gone but if he’s still hungry he has chicken left on his plate. This is the closest you should get to “encouraging” him to eat. You can also model good behavior by eating the chicken off his plate after he tells you he’s “done”.
Your thoughts? What has worked with your toddler?

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A Birthday Recap

We celebrated my birthday by heading to the beach, again. Minus the influx of teenage girls in scantily clad bikinis talking about making out with boys*, it was a b-e-a-u-t-iful day. Nothing beats a good day at the beach, right? And Van seems to be transitioning out of the shoveling-sand-in-his-mouth-phase, so that’s cool too. We headed to Neptune’s Net for a bite to eat afterward and then drove home along PCH admiring the view. Sometimes another year older doesn’t feel so bad…
*and then some

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28/52

A portrait of my husband, once a week, every week, in 2013.
Me: “Hey Willy, give me something to say with your portrait this week.”
Willy: “Tell em’ I miss basketball
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from the 90’s and make a reference to White Man Can’t Jump.”

My husband goes through fads. His fad right now: throwback jerseys. If you ask him, he’ll tell you they’re not a fad.
Some of my favorites from last weeks submissions: I’m down right obsessed with this photo of Oliver… everything from his red shirt, hat, and saltwater sandals… and, omg, his suspenders… his little expression in comparison to the expression on his shirt… and, oh ya, um hello Joshua Tree, you really are gorgeous. Bravo Sisilia, I LOVE that photo. Zoe’s pretty cute too. Other portraits I’m swooning over from last week: Another cutie in suspenders, a little boy and his sandwich smile, and this boy in his really cool belt (gotta love kids fashion). Sorry ladies, the boys stole my heart this week.
You can check out other posts in the series here.

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Summer

“Summer afternoon — summer afternoon, to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
-Henry James
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A Sponsored Giveaway, from Little Sweet Pea, Inc. {CLOSED}

Today, we have a special giveaway from etsy shop Little Sweet Pea, Inc. Little Sweet Pea is a trendy boutique offering unique and adorable baby items ~ infant car seat canopies, diaper covers/bloomers, nursing covers, diaper and wipe clutches and fabric flower rosette headbands, pins and hair clips. Enter today to win a $25 gift card and help support the handmade community… and what a beautiful community it is. I mean, seriously, there are so many talented mamas out there. Becca, the Mama behind Little Sweet Pea, is no exception.
You can enter any of the following ways. Please leave a separate comment for each entry to increase your chance of winning. As usual, the winner will be chosen in two weeks (on 7/25/13) using Random.com and will be announced here on Friday, July 26th. An email will also be sent, so make sure you email address is valid. This giveaway is open to US + Canada residents only. 
-Visit Little Sweet Pea‘s etsy shop and an item to your favorites. Tell me what item you chose.
-Follow Little Sweet Pea on Facebook.
-Follow The Stork & The Beanstalk on Facebook
-Follow The Stork & The Beanstalk on Bloglovin’
-Follow The Stork & The Beanstalk on Instagram and/or Pinterest
Interested in making a purchase? Becca has been kind enough to offer free shipping with coupon code StorkFreeShip, valid until July 31st. Happy shopping and thank you for supporting my sponsors.
CONGRATS TO DARBY FOR WINNING!

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Family

Spring/Summer 2013 from The Stork & The Beanstalk on Vimeo.
A true family photo, Sarah included. And a video from
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our trip to Palm Springs / Arizona a few weeks back.

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Mama's Corner

-Jack Kerouac always tickles my soul a way no other can… “Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road”. Looking forward to an upcoming road trip with my bestie in August. It’ll be like old times.
-Google searches this week have included the following: how to get your infant to stop biting you while breastfeeding and how to effectively punish a toddler. And, also, a fun spin on last post’s “why do mom’s” search… top three searches starting with “why do dads”: 1. leave, 2. yell, 3. matter. It’s a sad day when you have to turn to google for reasons to why your father left.
-I’ve jumped on board the smoothie train. Not for myself because, um, gross. But for Hooper. I shopped for a couple recipes here but have been simply blending spinach and berries because he likes it, will actually drink it, and would otherwise never touch spinach even if it were dipped in chocolate.
-A friend of mine has taken on the role of Camp Director for a fantastic camp for a fantastic cause. He has almost reached his goal in raising the money necessary to make it all come to fruition, but needs a little more help. If you have a second, check out this video. And if you feel compelled to donate, good vibes will surely come your way.
-Alix and Dottie, the lovely ladies behind Modern Kiddo, have invited me to join their blog as a contributor. I’m incredibly honored and have been having a blast working on my “Widdle Wednesday” features. You can check out an interview they did with me here and you can check back on the Modern Kiddo blog every Wednesday to see my feature.
-There was a time that Willy and I made a deal. He wanted another dog and I thought he was absolutely insane. Knowing a second dog would take a lot of time and attention, I told him we could get one so long as he stopped playing fantasy sports online. It’s been over a year and we don’t have a second dog, so you can guess how that all panned out. The internet is a funny place and arguably, a big ol’ time suck. We all have our online things we like to do: shopping, sports, news, blogs, recipes, asking google why your father left, the list goes on forever. I found this story fascinating; This guy dedicated himself to one year without internet in hopes it would strengthen his creativity and help him be more productive. What he found with this: the problem was himself. His problems were there with or without the internet, they just manifested in other ways in his offline life. It was an interesting read and the video is well done as well.
-I don’t share much medical or nursing related stuff on here, but I thought this article was an interesting read. It talks about how, in the age of modern medicine, death has become viewed as a medical failure rather than life’s natural conclusion. Food for thought.
-For those with a sick kind of humor, this video will give you a good laugh. I love the little old lady who says, “Oh my gosh” and then instructs him to “hold on to the cart”. She’s my favorite.
-I never did see a better looking nursery than this. And lo and behold it belongs to the son of Max Wagner, a fantastic photographer who continuously inspires me. Makes Van’s nursery look like something that fell out of an elephant’s butt. And of course Morgan, from The Brick House, had a hand in it because she’s one of those everything-I-touch-turns-to-gold kinda of phenoms. I have such a girl crush on her; She’s such a riot. If you haven’t checked out The Brick House, you should. Even if you’re not into interior design, homegirl is sure to have you rolling around in giggles. 
-Oh yes, last but not least… I’m taking the plunge. More to come on all the behind-the-scenes blood, sweat, and tears but I’m hoping to start my photography business within the next few months. I’m offering some mini-sessions this weekend for those that are in the southern Cali area. Interested? Shoot me an email: ashleyjennett@gmail.com. Thank you all for your encouragement and support along the way. It’s taken me several years to grow balls big enough to make this dream a reality.

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