Dinner time in my house is admittedly tense most nights. As I child, I was made (first by my father, then by my stepfather) to eat things I hated. Occasionally, I had to sit at the table until the food was finished. It was a struggle I carry with me even all these years later. I try not to enforce that same rule on Jax, who is almost 4 now. Yet I occasionally find myself raising my voice, temper flaring, at the dinner table because he either won’t try something new (or something he’s had and liked before but doesn’t remember) or he won’t eat more than 2 or 3 bites before saying he’s done. I often make two meals–one for him, consisting primarily of chicken nuggets (good ones, don’t worry) and mac and cheese (organic because he eats it daily), and another for my husband and me. It is hard to not be resentful about this.

Let me be clear: I don’t blame my father and stepfather for trying so hard to get me to eat things like meat, brussel sprouts, and milk. I understand, as a parent now myself, they wanted me to have important nutrients necessary for optimal growth–and I’m sure they didn’t want me wasting perfectly good food. I was a skinny little thing, just like Jax. Because he isn’t yet 30 pounds and is the smallest boy in his class at daycare, I often find myself worrying about his eating habits. The thing is, I know better than to obsess about this. The facts are: he is the child of parents who were very skinny as children, he looks a lot like my brother (who is still very thin), he is very healthy and happy, he has maintained the same growth curve since birth, and my coercion is potentially setting him up for food-related issues later in life. I’ve read Ellyn Satter, who advocates “division of responsibility.” In other words, she believes the parent is responsible for the what, when, and where of feeding a child, and the child is responsible for the how much and whether to eat the food provided.

I agree with this concept wholeheartedly and have the best intentions when it comes to feeding Jax. Yet possibly because of my own childhood experiences and my anxiety over my son’s growth (again, he is so little!), I find myself begging, pleading, and sometimes yelling at him to eat another bite. And another bite.

frustrated

Me, at dinner time.

I need to chill the hell out about it. What I also need is for the people in our lives to stop pressuring me about his eating–not that they always realize this is what they’re doing with their comments about how little he is, how picky an eater he is, and so on. They mean well, I’m sure. And since I can’t change other people’s behavior, I should focus on tuning out those kinds of unhelpful comments. Particularly the comments in my own head!

This morning, I found myself googling “Do French mothers meal plan?” I won’t even go into detail about what led me to this odd search. But I stumbled upon a post by Jeannie Marshall, whose blog I’m completely unfamiliar with, about French food rules for children. I am fascinated and on board with these rules from a book by Karen Le Billon–although I hate to apply the word “rules” to feeding given that I’m already struggling with tense mealtimes!

The one that resonates most with me is this: 10. Remember, eating is joyful. Relax!

So, even if I forget all the other rules, I’m going to try my hardest to enforce this one. I’m considering commissioning someone on Etsy to make me a sign for my kitchen, to serve as a daily reminder!

Do you struggle with feeding your children? Share your experience and/or advice in a comment!

 

This is a page from my “positivity notebook” (for lack of a more creative, less hokey name).

I’ve been paying attention to:

What Jax eats. Fiercely. I’m trying to find food he will actually enjoy, not just tolerate, besides chicken nuggets and mac and cheese. At least I buy the healthy versions of these things (although he prefers processed nuggets shaped like dinosaurs or cars over the ones I like to buy). But this constant attention to what he’s eating–or, more realistically, what he isn’t eating–is getting to me.

TEDx talks. Today, I’m listening to this one as I enter author corrections at work: Shannon Paige – Mindfulness and Healing Try the exercise around the 12:30 mark and the 7-day challenge around 15:50.

Elephant Journal, which my friend Jen introduced me to today. In particular, I’m scouring the articles in the Wellness tab.

Marc & Angel Hack Life. Always a favorite site of mine for reminding me what’s important in life.

Hype Machine blogs on Spotify. I love them! Here’s one I’ve subscribed to. This is sometimes how I discover new bands! I can’t get enough of Spotify when I’m at work. Here’s my Starred songs, if you’re on Spotify and want to check out what I love.

My Google Reader. I can’t bear to let my unread posts get past 100. I feel like I’ve been a bad blog reader lately, and my Google Reader typically reflects this. So I’ve been trying to do better, reading a few posts each day instead of waiting until there are 300+ unread posts in there, which I skim and then feel bad about marking as read.

Twitter lists. When you follow over a thousand people, creating lists is necessary. That way, I can be sure to not miss tweets by my besties (who are on one list). I even created a list called “Feel good,” where I’ve lumped together all the accounts I follow that are positive & uplifting.

I’ve been ignoring (or trying to ignore):

Facebook. Too many graphic images in my news feed lately. Too much negativity. Too much passive aggression. It’s just all too much sometimes and I need to take a break from it. Except from my groups. I love the groups to which I belong, so my Facebook activity, for now, is limited to checking posts within those groups and updating my blog’s page.

Candy & coffee. But I need to try harder! I’ve always had really great willpower–until lately. As for the constant need to pick at the candy leftover from Halloween, I suspect it’s simply stress eating, although I’ve never been a stress eater before. I think tonight I will dump what remains of the candy. Nobody needs all that sugar! It isn’t even tasty. I’d much rather have a second helping of dinner than a candy bar! (But hopefully I forego that, too.)

My positivity notebook. Not by choice, but because I haven’t had time for it. And I’ve noticed a negative effect on my moods as a result. So I need to do better at making the time to doodle in it and jot down uplifting lyrics, quotes, and messages to myself using all my pretty pens. Writing things down, even other people’s words, always makes me feel better.

Television. I just don’t really care about it at all right now. I’ve been playing with Jax & reading more to fill the (very minimal) time I used to watch tv.

Well, this concludes this totally random post I banged out in about 5 minutes while on a work break. I’d love to hear what you’re currently into or not into! Leave a comment & share!

 

When I think of autumn, I think of these things: sweaters, boots, pumpkins, hayrides, Halloween & Thanksgiving, a chill in the air, slippers, bubble baths, hot chocolate, and Cookies by Becky!

Click on the thumbnails above to see larger images of delicious cookies.

Imagine having these pretty cookies on a plate at your Halloween party! At Jax’s third birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese last month, we gave out 2 Spider-Man Cookies by Becky in each child’s goodie bag. Jax shared a cookie with me, and I was surprised at how delicious it was. It’s rare to encounter a cookie that looks AND tastes great. Becky has hit the mark with her cookies.

Becky and I are teaming up to give one of you a dozen autumn-themed sugar cookies in celebration of my second blogiversary!

There are 5 ways to enter this contest; choose 1 or choose all 5 to increase your odds of winning! Each comment is an entry.

1) Visit the the Cookies by Becky etsy shop and take a look around. Then come back here & leave a comment below sharing your favorite cookie.

2) Follow Becky (@beckykid) on Twitter and leave a comment telling me you’ve done so, including your Twitter name.

3) Follow @jamesandjax on Twitter and leave a comment telling me you’ve done so, including your Twitter name.

4) Tweet something about this contest, including a link to this post and mentioning @jamesandjax and @beckykid. Comment below with the URL of your tweet.

5) Subscribe to James & Jax and then leave a comment telling me you’ve done so.

Cookies by Becky has a Facebook page, too, featuring many of her custom orders. Please take a look & let her know how awesome her cookies are and that I sent you to check them out! I was so impressed by her Doc McStuffins cookies–prior to seeing them, I had never even heard of Doc McStuffins. Now it’s one of Jax’s favorite shows! (Thanks Becky!)

One winner will be selected randomly via random.org on Friday, September 28 and notified via e-mail. Winner will receive one dozen autumn-themed cookies from Cookies by Becky. Must be redeemed by October 31, 2012. Contest open to all U.S. and Canadian residents. I received no compensation for hosting this giveaway.

I have a confession to make: I am a Ziploc-aholic. Yes, I know how wasteful it is to use disposable baggies, and plastic ones at that! Actually, they’re made from polyethylene plastic resin–doesn’t that sound like something you’d want to store food in?! But I have continued to use them over reusable containers because they’re flexible–meaning they can be crammed into Jackson’s overstuffed Spider-Man lunch bag.

Until today. This morning, with the hope of overcoming my Ziploc addiction and decreasing my carbon footprint a smidge, I ordered two sets of snack bags from my friend Kristina’s shop, Sew Curly. My order totaled a mere $12, including shipping and embroidery–what I’d spend on 3 boxes of Ziplocs (which wouldn’t last me very long). Sew Curly snack bags are reusable, made from machine-washable 100% cotton, with a velcro closure easy enough for kids to open and close. And if you’re into cuteness, you’re in luck, because the bags come in a variety of adorable patterns. I chose the Space pattern for Jax because he’s obsessed with anything to do with space. He’s more likely to eat veggies if they come inside one of these bags, I bet!

My favorite thing about the snack bags is that most of them can be embroidered. I’m having my kiddo’s name embroidered on his bags. This means no more clear Ziploc (read: boring) baggies with “Jax” written across them in Sharpie as I nervously fret about whether the ink will seep into his snack!

Bad momma, I know. But I’m changing my ways, I swear!

Look at these cute patterns!!

So let the second blogiversary celebration continue today with an offer from Sew Curly. First up, we have a 20% off coupon code that is good until midnight on Sunday, September 30: Use the code “Jax” at checkout. In addition, one of you commenters will win a set of two snack bags.

There are 5 ways to enter this contest; choose 1 or choose all 5 to increase your odds of winning! Each comment is an entry.

1) Visit the Sew Curly shop and take a look around. Then come back here & leave a comment below sharing your favorite snack bag pattern.

2) Follow @SewCurlyK on Twitter and leave a comment telling me you’ve done so, including your Twitter name.

3) Follow @jamesandjax on Twitter and leave a comment telling me you’ve done so, including your Twitter name.

4) Tweet something about this contest, including a link to this post and mentioning @jamesandjax and @SewCurlyK. Comment below with the URL of your tweet.

5) Subscribe to James & Jax and then leave a comment telling me you’ve done so.

One winner will be selected randomly via random.org on Friday, September 28 and notified via e-mail. Winner will receive two snack bags from Sew Curly in the pattern of choice. Contest open to all U.S. and Canadian residents. I received no compensation for hosting this giveaway.

When you’re done, why not head over to yesterday’s 2 giveaways? And stop back tomorrow for the fourth & final giveaway.

 

I have to admit, this post is being written simply for the sake of adding new content–probably not the best idea for a post and possibly breaking all kinds of unspoken blogger rules, but it’s all I’ve got right now. You see, life has become incredibly busy, complicated, and sleepless over the past few weeks. Once again, I’m in this insomnia cycle, where I’m waking every 2 hours all night long, sometimes unable to fall back to sleep for hours. Last weekend, it culminated in an all-nighter Saturday night. And get this–I had even taken melatonin that night! But enough of the woe is me talk. I do so much complaining about sleep on Twitter that I probably should spare my blog readers!

In a more positive light, I’ve been brainstorming my hopes and goals for the month of August–Jax’s and my birthday month! August is typically my family’s busiest month, with girls’ nights out to celebrate my birthday and all the birthday events for the kiddo, plus last-minute end-of-summer shore trips and other fun things. You know the feeling, I bet–that frantic rush to get done all the things you’d hoped to spend your summer doing but life got in the way!

The biggest goal I have for this month is to manage to find some downtime for the whole family. It is easy for me to overschedule us without realizing it, and I’m afraid this has already happened to some degree. Here is just a peek at some of the things we’ve got planned: BlogHer ’12, birthday girls’ night out, a picnic day at Great Adventure, three family birthdays (me, Jax, my mother-in-law), four birthday parties,  and some dog sitting! Whew!

Given that my husband and I both work full time, most of those things occur on the weekends–leaving very little time for relaxation on weekends. So I guess we’ll have to have calm, event-free weeknights to balance out the crazy weekends! Which for me means lots of bubble baths, I hope. (Note to self: stock up on LUSH products as soon as possible!)

My second biggest goal for this month is to make it to the beach once, maybe twice if I’m really good at planning and juggling. Even if it’s just for a late dinner and a stroll on the boardwalk.

One hope I have for August is that my sweet friend has her baby (preferably after I return from the BlogHer conference!) easily and peacefully. I cannot wait to meet (and hold) this little one.

I also hope for the return of deep, long sleep. That one’s obvious.

Macaroons. They are a goal of mine. Must get some.

Another goal/hope for this month is to reconnect and rebuild a few of my personal relationships that are currently strained or in need of some attention.

I hope that going to BlogHer ’12 refuels my passion for all things blog related. I have been struggling to post lately, as well as to make time to read my favorite blogs. I think it is a side effect of the insomnia and busy schedule more than a lack of ideas. And I don’t hold out hope that attending the conference and hanging out with some of the most awesome and inspiring women in the country is going to cure my insomnia or free up my schedule, but I know it will spark something that may result in a proliferation of new posts to come. Fingers crossed, anyway.

Finally, I hope that turning 35 isn’t painful. That number is ugly & scary to me, but I’m not sure why. I’d almost rather be turning 36 than 35. But I found this article and it gives me a little hope. A very little, but I’m clinging to it.

What are your end-of-summer goals? Better yet, if you’re 35 or older, tell me some good things about turning 35!