Food is important in our family. It is important if you have not had food in the past (as was the girls' case when they were with birthparents).
When the girls first came home they ate as fast as they could and often. I had a bowl of fruit out, they could ask for a snack between meals and I had a little tupperware pitcher and cups on the table for them (this was pre refrigerator that has an ice and water maker) at all times. I didn't do the snack drawer as some parents do but I let them know if they asked they could have something between meals. They did not ask constantly but they wanted to know food was there if they wanted it. The first summer they were home, they really did eat us out of house and home. Dave and I were used to shopping once a month. We both worked and would take leftovers or go out to eat at work, and usually Dave cooked dinner because I always commuted to work at least an hour or more.
I remember the first grocery bill after they came home, and in shock as it was more than double what we were used to paying. To say we were naive and didn't really think of what food would cost is an understatement. I shopped a lot at "bag your own food" places a lot. Sometimes I went out on my own to get a break, which meant I had to bag it up myself, put it in the car and Dave would unload it and then I had to put it away. A lot of work, but sometimes that break at the grocery store was what I needed.
Meals during the first year were almost always 2nds and they asked before they were finished with their first plate, wanting me to fill it up as fast as they could eat it. I often wondered what kinds of food they got in their foster homes. I can't imagine there was a lot and when you were done that was it. The last foster home had a few kids in it so I think they probably ate what they were given and that was it. The girls both put healthy weight on and their hair began to shine and they looked much healthier. Our first dr took one look at Dave when he came in with us (he's a big guy) and said to the girls "don't get fat." That was it for him, I immediately switched doctors. Even the therapist asked what they ate, and seemed surprised that I fed them milk, fruits veg, no soda and healthier foods. We couldn't really afford to eat out that first year, once a week eating out. Very little fast food. I am sure that was probably not the norm. But they really ate healthy. Sure they had their share of sweets in moderation, but they were just as happy to have some canteloupe or watermelon for dessert. Now of course as they have aged, that has changed a bit, but they still only get soda on special occasions and while I have been on a fall baking kick, they can have a cookie or pudding cup and not have to have a huge dessert.
I think the key for us now (and I know it can change as they become teens) is that we eat together at the table. Every night. We sit down and eat together. I prepare meals at least 5-6 days a week and it is mostly home cooked. The girls have a small red Ikea table and chairs we bought them the first year, and they are able on a weekend or holidays when they are off, and it's just the 3 of us, sit at the table and eat their lunch in the living room. I tried breakfast once but BGA spilled her cereal bowl on the floor and then LGA spilled her mac and cheese on the family room floor, so that was it, I decided if it was a sandwich lunch it was safe. But sometimes when we decide it will be fast food hamburger night they are almost disappointed. However, that doesn't stop them from wanting pizza and hamburgers when out or if it's what we decide on for dinner.
BGA is still picky but one meal she actually scarfed down last night was a made up meal of frozen shrimp, diced chicken, veg egg and rice. I made up my own stir fry based on what I had on hand and she scarfed it down. She's not fond of too many other meals, likes meatloaf and fried chicken, pizza, chicken alfredo, etc. It is hard when I see her turn up her nose at food I have cooked but she does eat it. She doesn't have to have seconds and I usually give her a smaller portion so that if she wants more she can have it (she rarely has 2nds, these days, probably due to the ADHD meds, but LGA has 2nds frequently).
LGA is not very picky, although she will turn her nose up on some stuff and when you ask if she wants 2nds will say no. Last night on the stir fry, she had 2nds. She likes off the wall stuff, like jicama, she likes her ice cream and frozen yogurt to be flavors like blueberry, vanilla, mango, etc. She will eat chocolate but prefers when we have pies and last night's raspberry buckle. She's more like Dave in that way. When cousin G got married and we went to her rehearsal dinner they had a choice of ice cream or sorbet. LGA picked lemon sorbet. I like that she's open to trying new things.
BGA is more like me, as I was growing up. I was a picky kid. I can remember my mom telling me a story about how the babysitter she had for me (who had a daughter I played with, I think, I can't remember) while she rode the horses we had, and how the babysitter got a pizza for the kids. I was a strict peanut butter and jelly kid (like LGA has become these days) and I refused to eat pizza. The baby sitter had to make me my peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I have changed a lot and I try new things and like a lot of foods (I have overcome my pickiness, although mushrooms are still not a favorite) these days. I will eat almost anything. I hope that BGA will change as she grows up too. I have her try new things all the time.
On school mornings we rush through the routine. LGA has been eating at school. Her teacher insisted the kids all ride the bus and eat bkfst in the cafeteria too. So LGA would have to go through the routine to get her ready (which is challenging most days) and then get on the bus. BGA would have Dave cook her a bkfst or make her one from a frozen waffle, sausage patty, etc. LGA's teacher or aides will help LGA pick her bkfst and lunch. I wanted to pack her a lunch but the teacher explained that she's a good eater and with a little help makes some good choices.
So fast forward this week. LGA has been getting up at the crack of dawn. I don't know what has happened to my good sleeper but she sometimes gets up to go potty and in the case of this am, got up at 3:30 and wanted to know if she could stay up. Oh, heck, no. So I put her back to bed and she was up again at 6something this am. She cannot unfortunately be trusted up on her own, so I have been getting up early so Dave can get his shower in and get ready. Also I think he's burnt out on her am routine (which is hard too) so I am helping him out. Yesterday he made egg in the hole for bkfst. Everyone loved it. We gave LGA a smaller bkfst because she was going to eat again at school, but today she asked for bkfst at home. Yesterday Dave cooked and I helped LGA get her am routine done and get dressed. Today I cooked pancakes and he helped LGA get ready. We used to do this when they first came home but as LGA became more difficult in the am, and I became a night owl, Dave would let me sleep in and he would get her on the bus and then wake me up to help BGA. Well, BGA became quite self sufficient last year and this year she picks her own clothes out, so he would wake me before they left. But with LGA's increasingly earlier risings, and Dave feeling a bit burnt out getting bkfst and helping LGA get ready, I decided it was time to trade in the night owl for morning person. I should have done it earlier but he insisted he did not mind doing it. However, I have found when I am up there are less morning outbursts and tantrums and everyone does what they are supposed to. I feel sort of like my mother who used to make me a home cooked breakfast every morning. In the past it was a struggle to get the girls to eat on time, so LGA may have to forgo bkfst as she has in the past, to eat it at school, if she can't stay on task, because we cannot be late for the bus. Right now it's a novelty and she is wanting bkfst, so I give her something small to tide her over and then she can have a piece of fruit and some milk at school.
It feels good though for us all to be up. I have decided this will also allow me to get some exercise in as soon as Dave and BGA leave for school/work. This is a good thing. The extra family time in the am and everyone getting ready to go is kind of nice too. In the early days mornings were just plain not fun and if you read the old blog you might remember me complaining about them. But these days it's kind of nice (even if I am really NOT a morning person, I try but I just am not an am person).
In other news, BGA is attending as of this week, a science and math program after school two days a week. She's not really a math person so I am not sure how long this will hold her interest but her teacher encouraged her to go, so she attended one session so far and seemed to like it. This gives LGA and I about a quick half hour to hang out together while BGA is gone and the first session we managed to get in a game of checkers. It was fun to see her play as strategy is new to her but she's catching on. You just have to watch and make sure she doesn't cheat. I am hoping we can fit a few more little things into this time we have together, although LGA seems to think there's enough time for projects, which unfortunately there isn't. But she definitely wants the time together, so I am glad we have it. LGA has been challenging for me since school started as she's hanging out with the bigger kids and trying some of their behaviors, which I do not like. So maybe this will give us some time to hang out together.
Dave is now having weekends off. He was working a weekend day and then having a day off during the week, which I really liked because we could have mini day dates together. No more. At least till the holidays are over. Which kind of bites because he really does not get any holiday time off during the holiday season, just the actual holiday, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years days. The employees don't get 4th of July, Memorial Day or Labor Day off. They are not allowed to ask for any vacation time from the end of October through to January. Dave is taking vacation time next month for the girls' one week fall break, but that is the only vacation time he's taken all year. I will miss having him off on a Monday. I really enjoyed it. We'd go for breakfast or lunch, do errands, and when the movie times fit we would go to a movie together. We don't really have babysitters so I am sad to see this time go. I hope it will go back to normal once the holidays are over.
We are hoping to take advantage of Free Museum Day this weekend (since Dave is now off both days). Here is the link should you be interested in going to a museum free this weekend.