motherhood,  toddlers

7 Quick Takes: Boys, endless eating, detoxing, a baby swing, and dystopian teen lit

What? Too many and varied topics in one meager quick takes header? Yeah, maybe. . .

1. But I stayed out till 10 o’clock feasting my eyes on the visually assaulting and sensory-overlaoding ‘Divergent,’ and found myself shoveling salty, unbuttered popcorn into my mouth in a mindless cycle of dig/grab/stuff while the screen exploded in violent, rapid-firing images in front of me. The movie was good, and pretty faithful to the book, but my sister and I both experienced the odd phenomenon of ‘dystopian drift,’ for lack of a better explanation, where every end-timesy novel we’d read in the past couple years melded together in our brains, rendering the storyline of the film both surprising and kind of confusing.

At several points I was really concerned with where Katniss was hiding in all the wreckage of the bombed-out Chicago skyline, and I also couldn’t quiet the nagging fear that this was all supposed to be taking place in the Pacific Northwest, and that nobody was supposed to be touching anyone else.

Moral of the story: I probably need to dabble in other literary genres. But Divergent was good! Go see it.

2. My boys are skinny and on the short side, but they eat like ravenous animals. Joey in particular is like, 32 lbs and the shortest (well, and youngest with a September b-day) in his class but he begs food like an angry line backer on a Sunday afternoon. I can’t remember where I read this concept, but I allow them free access to ‘cranky cheese’ in a drawer in the fridge – either Baby Bells or string cheeses – in the hopes that their blood sugar levels will stay relatively stable between meals. They don’t. And, they beg for food and milk all day long, and on the days where I wearily acquiesce, they proceed to boycott their dinners, screaming about how unappetizing everything is.

Then, for his piece de resistance, Joey cries hunger at bedtime. Every night. And begs for food because ‘his tummy hurts all around’ and he is ‘really, really hungry.’ And because I’m a sucker, and because how can a mother refuse to feed her skinny child, I give him milk. Or a mouthful of peanut butter. Sleep, rinse, repeat.

Any thoughts? He was actually a much better eater when he was gluten-free (and that’s another story for another post). Now he’s a picky, bossy 3.5 year beggar. Who orders ‘cappuccinos’ (a steamed milk, courtesy of our espresso machine) many mornings of the week.

3. Speaking of raising male wolves, any suggestions on how to pry them off my ankles for large portions of the day? I read this fascinating piece in the Atlantic earlier this week, and then Michelle’s wonderful post on being a Little House on the Prairie Mom, but I can’t seem to convince them to leave me alone. Unless I’m trying to get them into the car and then, you know.

By the by, our backyard looks eerily like the ‘adventure playground’ featured in the Atlantic article. Complete with abandoned plastic bottles, piles of dangerous looking wood, and perhaps the occasional nail. So man up, boys!

4. Screen time. I had a great conversation with an acquaintance at an Annunciation party this week (envious of our social life?) about how she cut her two boys off from screens, cold turkey, and they turned into amazing readers and creative little souls almost overnight. Almost. Anyway, we’re on day 3 and it’s kind of killing me, but we’ve had no Curious George nor any Daniel Tiger in our house for 72 hours and counting…we’ll see how long mommy can hold out.

My main motivation for limiting the little monsters’ time in front of the laptop is mainly because Joey acts like a crack fiend when his show is over. Even when he senses the story arc beginning its descent towards denouement, he starts jonesing for his next hit and bargaining with me for ‘just one more, just one more.’ It’s sick. And I’m over it. I may be afforded 20 minutes of quiet for a private shower and blowout, but I pay dearly for it in the form of back talk, whining, fighting, and crying the rest of the afternoon. I hate it. So we’re experimenting with life in 1994. Wish us luck.

5. I had a couple requests for the pesto recipe I mentioned in Wednesday’s post, so here it is, loosely adapted from this one:

-3 cups loosely-packed fresh basil (de-stemmed)
-1/2 cup (ish) fresh parmesan chess
-3-4 tablespoons extra virgin Italian olive oil
-1-2 cloves crushed garlic
-1/2 cup raw almonds
-2 tbs fresh lemon juice
-sea salt and pepper to taste

Dump it all in the food ninja or your food processor of choice and blend away. I have to make it in batches because my ninja is teeny, but eventually the whole batch fits in there. It’s just a process of getting the basil condensed. This stuff is delicious and potent and a little bit goes a long way when tossed with pasta or basted over chicken or spread on sandwiches. It keeps in the fridge for 4 days…at least that’s the longest we’ve ever had it on hand. 🙂 I’ve heard you can spoon it into ice cube trays and freeze it and then pop the cubes out and keep them in a baggie in the freezer. Again, we’ve just never had leftovers…

6. I’m a terrible mother, and I just pushed both birdies from the nest into the backyard so “Mommy could finish her work.” And here I sit, ‘working’ … also, Genevieve has this swing and I love it. And she sleeps in it kind of a lot. And has a flat spot on the back of her head. Am I the worst mother, truly?

7. I’m starting Arbonne’s 30 day detox Monday, (hopefully, if it arrives soon enough. And my bff is a consultant, so I did not pay that price for it.) and I’m really excited to blog it all out for accountability purposes. And because people can never get enough of reading about stupid things other people are doing to lose weight and get healthy, right?

Anyway, after seeing myself on camera (I guest-hosted Heroic Media News this week and I’ll return again next week – the show should be live on EWTN by late April) in the edited footage, I had a mini actual panic attack. And I know I’m only 13 weeks out from Evie’s birth. And and and…it’s still hard as hell to see yourself looking like a complete stranger because of how your body has been ravaged by childbirth. Always hard. Hopefully I’ll see some results aaaaand I’ll have a fun giveaway up on the blog at the end of it.

Now off to Jen’s with you, and a very happy weekend.


  • Britt Fisk

    I might need a regular screen time update! I’ve wanted to do that, but a part of me still wants to hold on to that morning time to get a few things done. Ahh. I know I should! And, best of luck with the detox! I know how easy it is to be hard on yourself, but I think you look great 🙂

  • [email protected]

    I’m glad you liked the movie! I’ve read the first two books, and I am waiting for the third to come to my library. I am a dystopian junkie as well. And, yes, they are all the same, but I just can’t quit it.

  • October Rose

    Glad to hear the movie is good! (Although I have to ask … is the actor for Four/Tobias as bad as he looks in the trailer and clips on IMDB?) I doubt I’ll get to the theater while it’s there but I’m looking forward to watching it.

    My twins spend like 50-75% of their day in bouncy chairs … so … no judgement on the swing.

    Are you still breastfeeding? I’m interested in doing a detox but I’d be paranoid about it affecting my supply! (I’m kind of paranoid about my supply in general now that these bubs are getting bigger …)

  • Becky

    No judgement on the swing or the screen time. You are juggling 3 very small people- it’s a survival season. I got mine to play by being heartless. They got toys that promoted open-ended, co-operative play like a tool bench, kitchen, dress up clothes, those big cardboard blocks, etc. I would then announce that I had to rock/nurse the baby and that they would have to cope and then I would become fairly non-responsive unless someone was actually bleeding. I have also been known to say “You must stay outside for 10 minutes!” and firmly closing the door- I’m actively monitoring via a large picture window but out of their easy reach. The issue tends to be not so much that they *can’t* play independently as it is that it takes slightly more effort so they rather wouldn’t. Some structure can help- i.e. Do a rotation through gross motor, fine motor, arts and crafts, snack, etc. I also try to include an option to allow for individual play- one goes to their room, one in the living room or whatever. I hear you on the junky reaction to the television. I get some traction by making it a very scheduled, very predictable thing- we watch 2 shows and then it gets turned off or something like that. Some of it is just a function of being a 3 year old.

  • Laura Aileen

    Jenny, I’d be very interested in a post entirely about the TV detox. My girls are 2.5 and 1. I feel like even on really good days, my toddler might have 2 hours of screen time. I’m okay with it because she is usually pretty good about respecting when I turn it off. But I would love to know (and maybe people will comment…) what kind of activities captivate their kids for times where mama just needs to do something else (and can only give loose supervision)

  • Rosie

    TV used to be a huge monster around here too – and honestly, it is becoming one again… The big kids are really good about knowing their limits and knowing that at a certain time (or after a certain number of episodes), the TV goes off and that’s that. And they know that they have to wait until 4:30 every day before they can watch.

    But the babies? They beg for Dora ALL DAY LONG now. It’s nuts.

    Also, they’re 16 months old and still nap in their swings. They love those stupid things, and so do I. You do what you have to do!

  • Kris

    A couple suggestions on the eating/starving thing. Since I have grown/am growing 4 starving boys. Oy, my grocery bill would make you cringe! Anyway – they are natural grazers. Mine would eat ALL THE TIME, if I would let them. Since I homeschool, I had to come up with a plan for that. They all eat breakfast. Then we have snack time around 10. Then lunch. Then another snack around 2 or 3. Then NOTHING until dinner (except for my teenage athletes, who will eat a meal after school and then dinner and then another entire meal after then get home from practice – again with the grocery bill/cringing thing.) I did find when they were little that if I let them snack too much, they wouldn’t eat meals, which then led to a vicious cycle of pickiness. And he may be hungry after dinner if he didn’t eat much, but I would also suggest a set time to after dinner snack and then cut off the kitchen. The key is getting him to realize that he needs to eat when it’s offered because that’s it…! And mine have all been having WAY to much screen time with our yucky weather recently. Can’t wait for real spring to arrive along with outside play with the neighbor kids.

  • Amelia Bentrup

    Regarding the ravenous eaters, I think the most filling snacks are those which combine carbs with protein and fat. Things like banana or apple with peanut butter, or chips and hummus, or full-fat yogurt with fruit.

  • Ashley Anderson

    I would love to go the no screen time route again. I have 3 under 5, as if that is some excuse, so I’m going to be watching watching watching to see if you mention this endeavor again. My son is so sweet but because he is …erm, strong-willed, we deal with an uprising of respect (or rather, disrespect) issues about once a month. When my husband and I were discussing how to handle it (for only the 100th time) he suggested the pull of screen time when disrespect happens and I was all like, “BUT HOW WOULD I SURVIVE?? SERIOUSLY?!” even though Thomas is the only one who watches t.v. and he is only allowed two episodes and if and once he has completed his allotted chores for the day and, much like Rosie said, not until 5 (when I’m about to crack). But still, for some reason that feels like much needed life support I just don’t know how to separate from yet. If you have a good experience to share, please do. I’m not really in survival mode anymore, even though it feels like it, so maybe it’s time to take the leap.

  • The Cotter Family

    Grace slept in her swing, swaddled, with a pacifier, and a recording of a hair blowdryer, for every nap and all through the night until she could roll over (around 3.5 months), her head rounded out, I’m not worried about it. If it works, it works. Now she sleeps like a normal baby in a crib with no swaddle, no pacifier and just a regular white noise machine at 5 months. We loved the swing.

  • Lisa

    Ugh Evie has the exact same reaction when her screen time is cut off! (And I didn’t notice such crazy behavior before she started watching Daniel Tiger- is there subliminal messaging in that show triggering kids to throw tantrums? 😉 ) It kills me b/c I so appreciate being able to buy myself non-interrupted time but the reactions are getting ridiculous. I applaud you for pulling the plug on the tv!

  • Martha Reilly

    You brave, girl. We’re about to embark on a 30 day getting healthy endeavor but I’m not opening my mouth and identifying what we’re doing for a while because I know as soon as I do it will crash and burn and burn bad so … I’ll just read about other people getting healthy. 😉

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