By Ali Madison, Marketing Communications Manager at Trios Health
Mother of two
My kids aren't in school yet, but education is something I think
about a lot and value above most other things when it comes to
setting them on a path to success. Is it the key to all
forms of success and happiness in this life? Certainly not. But I
think we moms can wholeheartedly agree that it's critical to their
development. After all, they won't always be our babies (okay,
secretly they will be). Someday they'll need to be thriving,
responsible adults, and a good education is an excellent start.
Success in school can help lay the foundation for
self-confidence and lead to more choices as adults. It can provide
a broadened perspective about what's going on around them, an
understanding of how more things work, and the mental resources to
navigate a variety of situations. But how do you properly get
involved in the process of their education, and how much pushing is
Just as in many things in life, the answer is very different for
each person, as our TherMOMeter moms can attest. I was an
overachieving "A" student who truly liked doing homework and rarely
needed help or pushing. Give me speed-spelling, story problems, and
writing assignments any day of the week, and I was a happy girl.
Honors math? Sign me up!
But even though I made it pretty easy on my mom, I can't take
all of the credit. She read to me from the time I was born, asked
me about my homework every day, talked to me about college like it
was a foregone conclusion rather than an option, and celebrated
every one of my academic achievements with equal enthusiasm. Even
though I didn't happen to need a lot of her time or help with my
daily work, she was constantly in touch with me about it and making
sure I was enjoying it and making it a priority.
I think that daily conversation, emphasis, and positive
reinforcement is necessary for all children--the tricky part is
finding the right balance for each unique child, observing early on
what motivates and demotivates them most, and pushing within those
bounds. If something doesn't work, try something else. One of the
beautiful things about being a mom is that you get to keep learning
too--about your children--and letting those lessons continually
make you even better at loving and guiding them.
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Click on the stories below to read more.
Cover MOM: Jill James of Charter College
Because I said so!: Lessons from a lemonade
TherMOMeter: Taking the temp on hot issues
moms face with Trios Health
Back to school gear guide: Must have school
Beat the heat: Fun activities to keep kids
We all scream for ice cream: The scoop on
homemade ice cream
SuperDad: Aaron Ardal
I didn't have a cell phone until I was in college, and neither
did most of my friends. Now, many kids have smart phones, tablets,
and more before they even get to high school; even infants are
using technology more than ever before. Not only are they getting
it sooner, but the platform and application options continually
expand along with the capabilities each offers. It can feel a
It's easy to understand why some parents feel a little unsure
about the proliferation of technology into our children's
lives--after all, we grew up playing outside, getting
dirty, and using our imaginations, right? We didn't sit around and
stare at backlit screens all day interacting with a two-dimensional
rather than three-dimensional world. So how do we handle the new
era we've found ourselves raising our own kids in?
I think all of our TherMOMeter moms agree
that technology can be a good thing for kids--even essential and
life-enabling in the case of our mom whose daughter relies on it to
communicate-and it's definitely not going anywhere. It has become
integral to daily life at home, at school, and at work, across all
ages and industries. And the things it allows us to do and learn
are nearly limitless. We need to think about how to best embrace it
rather than fight it because it's different from our own childhoods
or because we fear the potential downsides.
Perhaps it's about maintaining focus on its upsides rather than
on how too much of it can be a bad thing. We as parents get to
decide what "too much" is for our own children, and to determine
the mix of content they access. We also get to decide when it's
time to go outside and play, read a book, or do an art project. But
by finding a way to let technology add value in healthy ways, we're
helping prepare our children to live and thrive in their
world--today's amazing and fast-paced world--while still leaving
plenty of time for learning, playing, and creating the way many of
us grew up doing it.
Our TherMOMeter team
has offered a variety of creative approaches for managing
children's technology use in the latest installment, from nightly
device check-ins to earned screen time. Try what you think will
work best for your family, and if it doesn't, hit refresh until you
find the balance you're looking for.
Makeover Winner: Caroline Morrow
Because I said so! - Momisms
TherMOMeter - Taking the temp on hot issues
moms face with Trios Health
Toss It - Delish salad and dip recipes
Grow your own salad - plant a garden with your
Summer bucket list - plan for a fun summer
SuperDad: Dan Riedlinger - sponsored by Tri
By Ali Madison, Marketing Communications Manager at Trios Health, Mother of
I love this issue's TherMOMeter feedback on how to handle picky
eaters in your household! At every stage of a child's development,
they recognize and learn to express preferences, which can be quite
challenging for parents. As the mom of a toddler with very specific
food preferences-mostly he prefers other things to eating-I already
see the creativity and mountains of patience it can take to instill
healthy eating habits early on.
Some days, meal time feels like a long and winding voyage with
rough seas and countless course corrections, but with a small
parting of clouds and a glimmer of sun on the horizon that keeps us
parents motoring on. And some days, that journey of persistence and
hope suddenly smacks into a brick wall and we wave our white flag,
vowing to try again tomorrow.
But fear not-smoother sailing is ahead for those of us
struggling with this challenge, because this month's TherMOMeter
installment is packed with amazing ideas to make the whole thing
easier on us AND our kids. And it's certainly a worthwhile
endeavor, because healthy habits now translate to healthy habits
I love how so many of the moms on our team offered such a
positive, well-balanced perspective on how to push without being
pushy and when to let go. And through their ideas, they
demonstrated that patience and persistence, applied in the right
ways, can really pay off. I came away with several different ideas
that I think might work for my family, and hope others will
Do you know a SuperDAD? Maybe he's your DAD, the father of
your children or a close friend?
Nominate him for the 2014/2015 Tri-City Americans SuperDAD!
The Tri-City Americans partner with MOM Magazine each season to
honor amazing dads in OUR community! Each SuperDAD
highlighted in select issues receives tickets for the family to
enjoy a scheduled game where DAD is publicly recognized on the
ice. While enjoying the game, the family also receives 4
t-shirts, and of course, MOM Magazine shares the SuperDAD's story
in our issue!
This year, we're giving away additional tickets to select games
Share the SUPERDAD in your
life's story in a comment below on our blog! You'll not only
be entered to win a set of tickets for a select game in the
2014/2015 season, but your SUPERDAD MIGHT be chosen for a future
issue! Winners will be announced throughout the season at
least 2 weeks prior to each SuperDAD game. (No purchase
necessary to win.)
Congratulations again to our 2013/2014 season SuperDAD's
Click on the cover image above to view the current issue.
Cover MOM: Karrie Truman Gets Real!
Because I said so! - Happy Mother's Day from
TherMOMeter - Taking the temp on health issues
moms face with Trios Health
Hit the road - Favorite road trip
Camp Songs - You'll love these classics
Some assembly required - Recipes that are so
easy we can't call them cooking
Summer Fun - Tips for a fun and educational
Buckle Up - Car Safety recommendations
26 Love Letters for Mama - An inspired
Mother's Day Gift
SuperDad: Michael Mead - sponsored by
Spring is in full bloom, and that means it's time for a fresh
start! While Mother Nature is busy shaking out her shabby winter
coat and unveiling her colorful beauty, I'm not one to be outdone;
let the spring cleaning commence! Yes, I 'm a victim of that
terrible cliché - I just can't help it. Plus, if your household's
anything like mine, it's a necessary evil after a dreary winter of
being cooped up inside. But while spring cleaning is an opportunity
to de-clutter and freshen up the house, it's important not to
forget your finances. Just as the humble abode needs some TLC at
times, so does the family budget.
An essential piece of any parent's budget is college savings. If
it's not currently a part of yours, it's definitely worth
consideration, because as fast as your kids are outgrowing last
year's clothes, so go the prime years for growing their college
funds. On top of that, you're probably aware of the direction that
college expenses have been heading over the last couple of decades.
If not, just look upwards. Annual tuition at both WSU and UW is now
a five figure proposition, and is becoming increasingly challenging
to afford without the help of costly student loans. Add in room and
board, books and supplies and multiply it by four years, and you're
looking at the cost of four brand new mid-level cars (or one really
If you're stuck wondering what to do or where to start, the
first place to look is at 529 savings plans, which are specifically
designed to maximize your college savings. Our plan in Washington,
the Guaranteed Education Tuition
(GET) Program, is especially noteworthy. As with all 529 plans,
savings in a GET account grow tax-free and remain tax-free when
withdrawn for qualified higher education expenses. But what makes
GET unique is that your savings are guaranteed by the state of
Washington to keep pace with rising tuition costs in our state.
Since GET accounts are not subject to the ups and downs of the
stock market, you have peace of mind knowing your money will be
there when you need it. It's also easy to get started, as there are
many flexible payment options, from pay-as-you-go lump sum deposits
to customizable monthly payment plans.
Something that trips families up as they begin looking into the
program is the misconception that it can only be used in
Washington. In fact, GET can be used nearly any public or private
university, college or technical school in the country, and has
already been used in all 50 states and 14 foreign countries. Many
families also delay getting their college savings started because
they're banking on financial aid, and concerned how a GET account
might affect their eligibility. Fortunately, in most cases, college
savings have a relatively small impact (typically, parental assets
make up about 5.6% of the Expected Family Contribution formula).
The other thing to be mindful of is that financial aid packages
often are heavily loan-based, especially for middle-income
By saving while your children are young, you're making a
commitment to their future dreams and ambitions, and saving
yourself a lot of pain later. So this spring, as you're busy
shooing dust bunnies out from the corners, don't forget to look for
ways to get your college savings started. To learn more about GET
and enroll online, visit www.get.wa.gov. The annual
enrollment period ends May 31, and once an account is open,
contributions can be made at the current unit price through June
I feel fortunate that both of my kids eat anything and
everything! From the age of 6 months, we would give each of the
kids samples of everything on our plates. Once they reached a year
old, they began eating the same meals we prepared. This doesn't
necessarily mean they liked it every time, but it was a rule that
for each meal, they ate what we ate-no special side meals.
I received excellent advice from my pediatrician. He said,
"Kids won't starve themselves. Maybe it will take a day or
two or three or even a week, but eventually they'll get hungry
enough to accept that green bean!" I took his advice to heart. My
four-year old's favorite food is currently pho (Vietnamese), and my
two-year old daughter's is saltwater clams. I feel fortunate not to
have picky eaters, but I credit that to diligence with their eating
habits early in their lives.
I always encourage my children to try everything on their plate.
I think helping picky eaters to avoid becoming picky eaters
requires a fine balance of continuing to offer a variety of food
choices, yet not fighting them to eat every last bite.
It is amazing to me that when you continue to place the same
food on their plates, even if they rejected it before, they will
eventually try it. In the case of my boys, they often like it.
Don't give up and submit to their pickiness. Keep trying by
offering them different kinds of food, then model for them by
eating it yourself. Eventually, your work will pay off.
This is not an issue with Abbey, partly because she has very
high sensory seeking issues. She has an issue with overeating and
putting some things in her mouth that are not food. She is becoming
quite overweight because of this.
My son, Wesley, is much higher functioning, but his sensory
issue is being very sensitive. He will only eat a few foods, like
pizza with pepperoni and no cheese, plain hamburgers, one
kind of chips, one kind of chocolate bar, one kind of pop tarts,
one kind of cereal, and bacon. He will also eat plain bread,
sometimes. As he gets older, he gets more set in his pattern.
In the hope that he would try some of what he prepares, we have
tried to include him in food preparation to increase his exposure
to other foods. This has been very unsuccessful. While he has no
problem handling the food, he will not try any of it.
His occupational therapist continues to try to expose him to
different textures with things like different kinds of play dough,
etc. We try to find variations of things he already likes, and
sometimes, he will try them.
We worked hard on getting him to take vitamins. He can swallow
them well now, so we make sure to get him high quality vitamins to
try to make sure he gets what he needs. I know that gradually
exposing children to new foods can be quite successful, but not for
You have to introduce various types of food to your child early
on. When they start eating solid foods, you make them a small
portion. Then, try it in front of them to show them how good it
tastes to you. More than likely, if they see you eating it, they
will want to try it!
Eating healthy foods and deciding what your child's eating
habits will be stems from the parents. Some parents might not see
this as a concern and let their child eat whatever he/she wants.
Other parents take this issue very seriously and make sure to
include all food groups into a child's diet in order to make sure
they are strong and healthy.
For me, I believe I would put myself somewhere in between these
two groups. I do believe it is very important for a child to eat
healthy foods, and they should always be eager to try new things.
However, I don't stress it upon them too much only because I know I
am a picky eater sometimes. I cannot teach something to my kids
that I am not willing to do myself.
Both of my boys are very picky at times, but to compare them,
they are like night and day. George's favorite food is macaroni and
cheese, so if I make macaroni and cheese, he's going to eat it.
Louis is different. I still have not seen him willingly eat
macaroni and cheese or, for that matter, any pasta. He will eat a
whole plate of rice or potatoes, though. Even as babies, George
favored the meat flavored baby foods. Louis favored the sweet
potatoes and fruit. I think the only thing they can both agree on
is that they enjoy eating chicken.
I attended a training once where they taught that a child has to
taste a certain food a certain amount of times before he starts to
like it. I cook a variety of foods, and I let them try it if they
are curious. They will usually try the foods that I cook and
eventually begin to like it. My hope is that by the time they are
older, they will have a well-rounded meal plan for themselves and
enjoy a much larger variety of foods.
As for the junk food category, I don't really care for it. My
children don't drink soda. They can eat candy occasionally, but I'd
rather they didn't. I'm not so fond of foods and drinks that lack
nutrition or give my children empty calories. I try to cut those
out as much as possible.
My girls just turned one. With that, we have been working on
eating many different kinds of solid foods. We attempt to eat solid
foods three times a day, sitting up in their high-chairs. I give
them many options throughout the day, but it always comes back to
the same stuff. One likes cheese while the other likes raspberries.
In times of desperation when I can't get them to eat anything else,
I would rather they eat real food than take a bottle. Then, I give
in, and they get cheese and raspberries.
I hope that as they get older, perhaps they can be reasoned
with? Or perhaps I am creating the picky eater for life? Oh well, I
am a picky eater too. It's not the worst thing ever.
I will never forget one of Rilie's first check-ups with his
pediatrician. We were all discussing future nutrition, and she
brought up a study that was done with children and food. A group of
different aged kids were asked to name their favorite vegetable.
The majority responded with French Fries.
That opened my eyes and brought me back to my own childhood
where nutrition wasn't a big thing in the house. It made me want
better for my children, especially living in a very on-the-go
society today. When our oldest was a just baby, we always tried to
eat dinner as a whole family around the dining room table.
Until just recently, I have chosen to keep foods like soda,
candy, ice cream, and fast foods basically off limits or to an
absolute bare minimum. At Halloween, all of their candy gets sent
to their cousins who are stationed elsewhere in the army, or it's
donated. They are perfectly happy letting it all go. We've received
a lot of comments that we are depriving our children of a good
childhood because we limit sugar and "junk", but we see it as
setting the foundation for healthy eating habits later in life.
When we go out to eat now at a sit-down restaurant, they are
given the option of having whatever they'd like on the menu. They
always choose to get apples or broccoli and milk or water over
fries and soda.
When Rilie was first diagnosed with ADHD, we decided to control
it via elimination of high fructose corn syrup and food dyes -
especially reds. He only fought us when he'd come back from a
family member's house who wasn't quite on board with us and had an
item that normally he couldn't have at home. Now that we've worked
all of the kinks out and everyone is on board, there isn't a fight.
He can tell you what he can and can't have as well as how it will
affect him if he does consume it.
My two-year old is already a picky eater - but toddler style. He
will want something one day and not the next, or he will only want
a certain color of food one day and refuse it the next. His
favorite food used to be cheese, but now he'll barely touch it.
Since he's a toddler who is picky about everything and just
learning how to express his preferences, I don't push the issue too
much. He definitely does not get to eat whatever he wants, but as
long as he's got a balanced meal, most days I let him explore his
likes and dislikes as much as I can.
My diet has changed A LOT in the past year, but I didn't want it
to be as drastic for my boys. I try introducing one new thing at a
time, or I give them bites of my food. Then, they can see that
healthy food is good too!
They have been mostly receptive to all the new meal options;
with the exception of asparagus…they do not like that! We have gone
from eating fast food, or just unhealthy food in general, several
nights a week to eating home cooked meals most evenings. We still
enjoy "splurge nights" where we will go out to dinner or get a
treat. I think that helps keep us balanced.
I have always tried to serve healthy food to my kids. My husband
is from Honduras, and I am from Mexico. We have a variety of foods.
Some of my kids loved vegetables from as early as six months, and
other still hate vegetables at age twenty-three.
My husband and I always cook using meat/chicken or seafood,
rice, beans and a side of some type of vegetable. Everyone has to
try a little bit of each item, and of course, eat everything they
We used to have a consequence for those picky eaters. For
example, if you did not finish your food, you had to do dishes.
I tried to start healthy habits as early as possible, but one
day my daughter will love something and want to eat it for every
meal. The next day, she won't touch it. If she refuses to eat
something after trying it a few times, I'll give that particular
food a rest for a while and substitute a different healthy option.
The key is not forcing her to eat something she isn't interested
in. Chances are, after a break, she will forget she doesn't like
that food and love it again!
Eating new and healthy food. That is a tough topic! You have
those kids who will eat everything and anything. Then, there are
those who will only eat "specific foods" and are just plain picky!
Well, if mom doesn't want to be a short-order cook, then this issue
needs resolved fast. There is a very fine line between forcing them
to eat and allowing them to choose when and what to eat. Obesity is
such a big issue that there has to be parental intervention and
control, but to do that and not have mealtime become a battle
ground is also a slippery slope.
I approached this rather matter-of-factly. I started with a
healthy cupboard. The only food brought into the house was food
that I did not care when or how much they ate. Fruits and veggies
were in ready supply. There were no cookies, cakes, or chips and
crackers stacked in the cupboards. They were given those foods, but
they were part of the "menu". Then, they went away.
If we had hamburgers, there were chips. Birthdays and holidays
brought cakes, pies, cookies and candy, but it was not present at
other times. If we wanted a treat, ice cream for example, we went
out for it, or purchased enough for that "treat day". Treats
were allowed, but they were not provided on a regular basis. As a
result, they learned to choose snacks that were healthy - that was
all there was.
As they grew older, they didn't deviate much because they had
not acquired a taste for or a habit of snacking. I am amazed still
at how many bags of chips and cookies I throw out. They grow stale
and aged in my cupboard if they were not finished at the time they
are originally opened.
Mealtimes were similar. I had a menu with the "regular foods",
rotated through based on prep time and cooking time. Now and again
new recipes were tried or new foods introduced. They were required
to try it. If it was not a "hit", it just went away - no
discussion. If something was made that was objected to by one or
two children, it was made again, but the objectors were not
required to eat it and something else was substituted. Over time,
they all ate it, or it was retired from the menu or saved for a
special meal. Meals were about activities and enjoying each other's
company. Meals were not about the foods and what was eaten. Amazing
to me that they all developed different tastes in foods and likes
One of my fondest memories was of my middle daughter at about
age 10. We were at a restaurant, and she asked the waitress if they
had any flavor of soda besides water. The confused waitress started
to respond, and I jumped in, "They may have other types, but water
is just fine, thank you." My daughter stated quite
insistently, "My friend's mother takes her out to eat where they
serve flavored soda. Why do we only go to places with just
water-flavored soda?" I still notice that they order water more
often than any other beverage when we are dining out. Good habits
are hard to break.
Oh, the picky eater stage. I honestly believe every kid goes
through this, some just a little worse than others. When my first
son was little, I was worrying myself silly thinking, "Oh, he isn't
getting enough food, he won't eat (insert whatever meal here)!"
I had a very wise family doctor give me some words of advice.
Our doctor said, "You never see the bones of a kid just sitting
there at the table, now do you?" It was that down-to-earth thinking
that snapped me back. I offer the food, insist on one bite at each
meal, and then I let that be that. If my kiddos are hungry, they
are going to eat at the next meal. I just don't really worry about
I think many children also go through phases where they prefer
just a few kinds of food. Again, all we can do as moms is offer
them other things and not beat ourselves up about it.
Also, with the pickier ones, I just offer the healthier options.
I will trade things out-wheat pasta for white, farm fresh eggs, and
organic veggies. Just pick things that are important to you.
My little girl is a great eater, but she's not terribly
adventurous! There are about five meals that she loves (salmon is
her favorite), and getting her to try anything new can be a
To be honest, as long as her diet is healthy, I really don't
push new foods on her-unless I think she'll love something if she
gives it a chance. I recently prodded her to try my perfectly
cooked rib-eye, and she almost ate my entire steak! I often remind
her that she'll never know her next favorite food if she isn't a
good "tryer". This works sometimes, but when I recently tried
to talk her into venturing beyond her beloved cheese sandwich in
her school lunch, I received a resounding "NO!".
Beyond peas, carrots, and green beans, Lola is not a big veggie
eater. However, she loves salad, and a couple nights per week, we
have only "Big Salad". I hide spinach in her "Big Salad", so
I know she's getting some good greens on a regular basis. We don't
eat any fast food at all (except pizza) which is a bonus for her
Lola is a healthy kid, and I am confident one day she will
gleefully eat a wide range of veggies and other foods. But, for the
sake of full disclosure, I'll confess that I didn't like broccoli
until I was 40. She still has plenty of time!
I have been quite fortunate in that none of my three children
are very picky eaters. Each has their own likes and dislikes as
everyone does, so I just try to alter their meals to ensure that
they get the proper nutrients. Of course, I also strive to keep my
kids happy at mealtimes. For example, my three-year-old does not
like milk. I have tried everything; whole, two-percent, soy,
even flavored milk, but to no avail. Fortunately, I've had much
better luck with yogurt and cheese in making sure she consumes
When my children were babies, I would start them out with the
baby food, preferably vegetables, first. Then, I transitioned them
to fruits because I believed they would prefer the sweeter taste of
the fruits to that of the vegetables.
Like most toddlers, my kids ate when they wanted, if they wanted
to. I did my best to have healthy snacks readily available at all
times so that when they did get hungry, they could snack on those
instead of junk food.
The reason I've been so successful with my kids' eating habits
is that I prefer not to rule my table with an iron fist. I never
force my kids to eat everything that's on their plate. Instead, I
only ask that they try everything at least once before they
determine whether or not they like it. As long as we set positive
examples by empowering our children to make smart food choices from
day one, it will set the tone for a longer, healthier, and fuller
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