Thursday, September 10, 2015

Worth It.

So, I stood on the scale the other day.

Hmmm... right at the top (if not a pound or two over) my 5 lb. bubble I like to stay within.

Really?  I thought.  I've been eating pretty normal during my meals and sometimes even forgetting my afternoon snack when I've been busy.

It's too early in the monthly cycle to blame the extra poundage on bloating.


I casually mentioned this to Ethan while watching Netflix the other night.

"I'm just not sure why..."

And then I looked in my hands.

At the bowl of ice cream I was enjoying. was my second bowl.

Oh, there it is...

Two weeks ago we got a great idea to try making different flavors of homemade ice cream.  We decided on fresh peach, chocolate peanut butter, and traditional vanilla.

They all turned out SO GOOD!

I have decided that it is an appropriate sacrifice to be a little higher on the scale to enjoy the creamy goodness of homemade ice cream.  :o)

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Confessions From a Summertime SAHM

I spend 9 months out of the year as a working-mom.  I choose to spend my days with 13 and 14 year old teens.  (I really should start recording people's reactions when I tell them this...I get some doozies!)  Each year in May I get a 3 month "break" as I become a Summertime Stay-At-Home-Mom.

PS...did you know SAHM stood for Stay At Home Mom?  I just learned that!

Here's how that went.

I started the summer with a goal of organizing and cleaning out each room in the house.  I gave myself a realistic timeline of one room per week.  I did really good at the beginning and knocked off the master bedroom, kitchen, girls rooms, and master bathroom.  That's when productivity dropped off...  Looking back, I should have started with the basement toy area, office, and storage room.  I sorta half-assed the toy area and just tried to avoid the other rooms downstairs.  I like to think of it as...if I don't look at it, it's not there.

Jackie enjoyed her gymnastics class and it seems to be doing exactly what I wanted.  She has progressed to letting me watch outside the glass with the other parents.  Although we still struggle with following the "obstacle course" on her own, she is getting better.  A bribe of popcorn if she listens to her teachers has worked well!

Katerina has not yet figured out the "bribing" technique.  Either she's just not realized the reward for doing what she's told, or she's just not going to be motivated that way.  I really hope she catches on soon.  The bribe is the only tool in my "Mommy of toddlers" tool belt.  I really don't want to have to read any parenting books for other techniques.

I read more books this summer (not parenting ones) than I have in the last two years combined.  I don't regret a single nap time spent with my nose in a book.

I took my kids to the Y almost everyday so I could drop them off at the Kid Zone for two hours while I walked, read, worked on school stuff, or just ate a granola bar with out the little ones pleading and screaming for a bite.

I experienced the paradox that is sand.  I love how it keeps my girls entertained for hours and I loath the bath tub when trying to get it out of their hair and diaper...

Toddler girls have stinky toots.  It helps when I need someone to blame mine on... (I can't be the only mom who does this.)

The hot summer days call for chilled white wine after the kids go to bed.  This summer Ethan and I enjoyed trying different brands to cool off with.

We don't use our oven from May to September...I'm ready for some gooey casseroles and cheesy enchiladas!

If I could figure out how to keep the housework caught up during the school year as I well as I do during the summer I would write one of those parenting/mommy books.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

All the Dad's in my Life

I am one blessed lady.  So are my girls.

While some people struggle to have even one positive male figure in their lives, we have three.

Here's a little tribute to them.

The Father of my Children.  Ethan.  Daddy.

They say that you'll never love your husband more than when you see him become a daddy.  That statement is truer that true.  There's nothing but pure love in his eyes when he holds his little girls.  Although he hopes someday for a boy, he is well aware that God may just think that we are good with girls and bless us with a houseful.  Doesn't matter to Ethan.  I hope our girls look for the qualities that Ethan possess when they consider who to become friends with, who to date, and who to marry.

Daddy for the second time. Same loving look.

Daddy's girl.

A daddy lesson...How to make S'mores.

See...she looks just like her daddy, right down to those blues.

Ethan was so excited when Jackie turned out to be a "daddy's girl."  She just always wants daddy. Katerina has been more of a mommy's girl, but is more recently starting to hang on daddy more.  Kat is the spitting image of him.  Every time she smiles I see it.

I can't wait to see how their relationships continue to grow.

Dadio.  Gamimi.

I always remember my dad as a busy guy.  If he wasn't working at the power plant he was busy out in his "shop."  He always had a project to work on, something to fix, or just futzing around.   He spent years planning and building his outdoor shop.  It is packed full of tools, gadgets, lawn mowers, and most recently, a fully functioning bathroom.  He never has to leave.  Mom texts him when dinner is read.  I never thought I would see that!

Dad and me painting the toy-box that is now in our basement.
He would sing made-up songs with silly words, such as "Dad is great, he gives us chocolate cake..."  (that particular song was sung when mom happened to be out of town for a night and he was in charge).

Even his grandpa nick-name comes from the silly words and sounds he would make.  Always cooing and saying goofy things to Jackie when she was a baby caused her to start calling him one of her favorite words.  Gamimi.  Even Katerina is starting to catch on, saying "mimi" when she sees him.  He forever stole the girls' hearts with doughnuts in the mornings and swings he fashioned in his shop out of an old car seat.
The first granddaughter.

The second granddaughter.

That car seat swing!

My Father-in-Law is hard to describe.  If you need something fixed, he can do it.  If you need to build something, he can do it.  If you need help on harvest, he is probably already doing it.  I have never seen anyone with such a creative mind.  I once saw him fix our well with a pop beer can and duct tape.  Seriously.  He would just drive his truck over and whatever you need, it's in there.  Talk about a stocked vehicle.  The back is packed with tools and items that you could ever think to need.  It's amazing.  Ethan and I have often joked that you could park his dad's truck in my dad's shop and they would never leave.  Ever.

He loves to spoil his granddaughters with a new dolly on their birthday.  He spends hours searching for just the right dolly for each girl.  He's up to finding four dollies each year.  Who knows how many more he'll end up with. :)

My Mother-in-Law told me early on that "Bill has a way with babies.  They just love him."  Oh was she right.  I don't know what he does, but both of my girls just light up when he comes over, and constantly want to go to Papa's house.

Jackie's first tractor ride.

Papa and Jackie.

Papa and Katerina, a few hours old.

As I said before.   We are some lucky ladies to be surrounded by so many incredible dads.  On this Father's Day and all the other days of the year, I hope they know just how much we love them.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Jackie's "Special Class"

This was week three.

Week three of Jackie's "Special Class."

Side Note:  Jackie is a creature of habit, set in her ways, and likes to do the same thing the same way every day.  In order to get her to do something out of the ordinary, we call it "special."  She has "Special Pop" (sparkling water), a "Special Clock" (which lights up and sings her a song at night), and "Special Chocolates" for cleaning up her toys at night.  And since the first week of June...a "Special Class"

We enrolled Jackie in a "Just 3's Gymnastics" class at the local YMCA starting in June.  We go once a week.  We figured this would be a good start.  She has never done anything like this before.

Let me say that again.


The closest she comes to structured class is... well... nothing.

During the school year, she goes to a private home daycare that we LOVE.  (She loves it as well.)  She plays with the same group of kids everyday, takes a good solid nap, and enjoys snack time.  I even show up to pick her up at the same time each day. (Give or take 10 minutes or so.)

Because I teach 25 minutes away from daycare and Ethan drive across town to work, there is no way we can send Jackie to preschool and keep her at "Mimi's."  We love "Mimi" and so does she.  Preschool, at this moment, is not a certainty.

What is certain is that Jackie needs to learn structure in a "school-like" setting.  She needs to interact with a group of other kids (without sucking her thumb and raising her shirt up to play with her belly button...that will come later).  She needs to have instructions given by a teacher, learn to wait her turn, and listen to what the teacher says.

Enter "Just 3's Gymnastics."

I think the program description even mentions the above items that kids will experience.

Off we went to the first class, the first week in June.

Jackie wouldn't go in by herself.  I had to sit her down on her little puzzle piece and sit behind her the entire time.  She didn't know any of the little songs or "moves" and ended up trying to figure out ways to escape.  She struggled to figure out that she's not always first and tried, at any time she thought I wasn't paying attention, to run off and play on other equipment.

Also... all of the other kids had done this many times.  Jackie was the wild-child rookie and I was the hovering parent who just couldn't "let go."  I desperately wanted to let-go, but my desire for her to participate outweighed the possible judgement of all the other parents seated outside the glass watching.

She did enjoy it and could do any of the tucks, jumps, and rolls that was asked.  It was the "class" part she struggled with.

Back we went to week two.  An improvement.  I could sit back on a mat and watch, as long as I was in the room.  I tried to sneak out once, and that lasted about 5 minutes before she came running out the door looking for me. child is strong and has some kind of fascination with doors. Seriously.  She is like a Velocirapter in Jurassic Park.  She figures out every door she's come across.  We even have child locks on the INSIDE of her door so she can't get out in the middle of the night.

Week three.  I prompted her earlier in the day by telling her that I would be sitting by the door and she would go to the class by herself and listen to her teacher.  If she listened and let me sit all the way by the door, we would pop popcorn as a treat when we got home.

It was a good improvement!  She only ran back to me 3 times, and listened and participated much better than last time.   She still has a looooonng way to go in the regards of being comfortable with me leaving her, but we are trying to work out ways in which she goes to different activities without a parent.  I really don't want to have a 5-year-old clinging to my leg on the first day of Kindergarten.

Last night was an improvement.  A step in the right direction.  Hopefully with more classes like these she will learn those social behaviors that are necessary in a school setting.  The "stuff" (tucks, rolls, jumps, and balancing) are secondary to her participation.

She is my first.  I teach middle school kids.  I have NO IDEA if her actions are typical for 3 or if I'm raising one of "those" kids.  Should I worry about it?  Probably not.  Will she grow up and figure it all out? Yes.  But I do.  And I worry she won't.

I'm hoping that by the end of July I can sit outside the glass and just watch.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

June Ramblings...

I looked at the calendar the other day to schedule a dentist appointment (otherwise, why look at a calendar during the summer??) and realized that we are passed the half-way point in June.


June half-gone already.

Where did it go?


  • Morning walks are a must.  Luckily there have been only one or two of those early summer rainy days that we haven't got our walk in.  Sometimes it takes some convincing bribing ignoring the whines and cries to keep the girls happy for the duration of our 2 mile quest.  But it gets done.  
  • Jackie is in full-on whine-about-everything mode.  I think I say the words "tell me that again without whining" more than any other phrase.  "Stop doing that" and "Be nice" run a close second and third.  
  • Speaking of Jackie.  We put her in her very first structured class at the beginning of June.  "Just 3's Gymnastics."  Yeah...Jackie doesn't like structure.  More on that class coming soon...
  • Katerina has figured things out.  Things such as "mine" and how to tattle.  We may not understand every single word, but the body language and facial expressions tell us everything we need to know.  Sometimes her complaints are justified.  Sometimes their not.  She is quickly learning that growing up means things don't always go your way.  She doesn't like it.
  • Jackie had her first trip to the dentist.  Since we have REALLY been struggling with strangers and doing what she's told, I was prepared for an ultra-toddler-meltdown.  Turns out, she did great!  She has even told me that her teeth hurt and she needs to go back to the dentist.
  • Parks and Pools.  We seek one out everyday.  I don't know how stay-at-home-moms and daycare providers survive winter months when you can't get out of the house.  Getting out makes the day for us.
  • Everything in the summer is based on time and clean-up.  How much time will that activity keep the girls busy and how much mess will I have to clean up when their done?  Can I live with the mess for moments where kids aren't pulling my pants down.  (Seriously...that and the swim suit top.  For.The.Love.  DON'T GRAB MY CLOTHES).
  • I am beginning to have a serious love-hate relationship with my Garmin Fit-Bit.  I love that I reach my goal everyday.  But I am super tired by 8:00 and that stupid thing keeps raising the bar.  It's going to think I've gone into shock when school starts up again.  (And I'm a teacher who is up off her feet most of the day).  Whew!
  • Speaking of exercising...  Found out our bathroom scale was 10 lbs. off.  Dammit.
  • Ethan discovered BBC's "Planet Earth" on Netflix earlier this month. Cool stuff!  We loved it and now Jackie LOVES coming to rest in our bed after we put Katerina to sleep to watch "animals" on TV.  
  • Speaking of TV.  I have instituted a "no TV before dinner" rule this summer.  Very smart of me. The girls play together so much nicer and find ways to keep each other busy without it on.  I am getting more accomplished throughout the day...and my pedometer shows it.
  • Ok...I have given in on the "no TV" rule on a couple of occasions.  1) Rainy days that we can't get outside. 2) To make Jackie feel better when she got whacked in the head with the car door and then not 20 minutes later pulled some heavy objects off a shelf right onto her head. She got 20 minutes of Shrek to make her feel better.   Poor thing. (But I did warn her about both...
So far, that's it.  I have found a few afternoon nap times to work on some school stuff.  I enjoy working on it and it gives me something else to do besides pick up the same shoes and blankets for the 10th time that day.  I find myself enjoying each day (some more than others...) and yet marveling in the speed of the months.  Before long it will be back to daycare and back to work.  

Saturday, May 2, 2015

How Sports Prepared Me for Parenthood...

It's a funny thing, when I was playing sports in high school and college my coaches always used to say that it was preparing me for life.  The lessons I learned on the court would be applied to adulthood.

As a coach I said, and believe the same things.

I always pictured working hard at my job, at times failing, but digging deep and pulling out a victory the next time around.

It never occurred to me that, I would see my athletic training showing up at home, as a mommy...

For example...

I never boxed out on the basketball court near as well as I can box out two toddlers from getting the hot oven as I pull out a batch of cookies.  Seriously... No one would get that ball but me now!

Man-to-man and Zone defense.  With one child, it was easy.  Zone all the time.  We got to sit back in our areas and cover what was needed at the time.  With the addition of another player (AKA baby #2) things changed.  We now either run a man-to-man or zone with one defender having to cover two in his/her area.  It is exhausting.

How to treat sore muscles.  I thought I was sore after the first week of practice.  HA.  Nothing like the day-to-day squats, stairs, up-downs (picking up toys under the bed, couch, table...), and lifting of two 25-30 lb. potato bags children.  That move.  A lot.

Early practice.  Thank you coaches for making me get up at 5:00 AM to come in to practice and then have to make it through an entire day of school and sometimes even practice again.  Totally helped with this "going to work with no sleep" part of the working-parent lifestyle.

Using my peripheral vision.  I can effectively watch "The Middle" and see my children playing in the kitchen at the same time!

Scheduling and organization.  One of the biggest advantages to being a student athlete was that it taught me to prioritize and organize.  If it was Wednesday and I had a math assignment due on Friday, but a game on Thursday, that meant I needed to do my homework Wednesday.  The same holds true for work and daycare schedules.  I have to go to the store, but need to be at daycare early on Tuesday, I better go on Monday or we'll eating cereal for dinner!

Losing and failure.  Let's be honest.  In sports, both of those things happen.  It's important to fail and then pick yourself up and try again.  Learning from mistakes.  I fail daily.  I learn a new trick or strategy all the time.  I am constantly trying to improve my parenting game.  I hope to make it to the "big leagues" (not even sure what that would be for graduating high school???)

Staying active. In between seasons athletes need rest, but they can't forgo all training or they lose everything, and it's very painful when training starts up again.  Now.  I am NOT as active as I was or wish I had time for, but I do try to make sure my kids are.  Playing outside, swimming, climbing, or even just chasing each other (or me) through the house.

Hydrating.  Water. Water. Water.  And Wine. (only as Mom, never as student-athlete)  :-)

Now, I'm not saying that these can only be taught through sports, I have just recently started to enjoy the comparison of the things I did on the court and the things I do as a mom!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


Yep.  You read that title right.  This post is about boobies.

My three-year-old's obsession with boobies.

I'm not exactly sure what caused the normal, toddler interest in my nursing Katerina (over A YEAR AGO) to balloon into non-stop booby-talk.

But within the last couple weeks each one of these statements have exited her mouth in her loudest toddler voice.

She asks me "why do you have big boobies mommy?  So you can feed Kit Kat?  I don't have big boobies."

She asks grandma "Why do you have big boobies?"

She stares in a very creepy way at our cousin while she nurses her baby.

And the best one so far, she told to daddy on the way to daycare today "I can't go to school yet because I don't have big boobies."

So if you see us out and about and stop to say hi she may ask you why you have big boobies (if your a girl) or why you don't have big boobies (boy), or tell you she doesn't have big boobies, or even just say boobies.

I'll be red-faced and trying to hide.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The ABC's of Weber Haus

A - Anniversary. Number 5 is approaching.  Seriously...FIVE?!?! Time flies when you have fun with the one you love!

B - Baby Joe!  The poor little dolly came to us so squeaky clean.  Now he's covered with love.  Just in case you were wondering "love" is a dirt-like film that WILL NOT COME OFF.  Jackie couldn't love him any more.

C - Crib.  We are done with the crib for now.  MUCH sooner than I had planned since Katerina is only 16 months old and still not sleeping completely through the night.  She usually wants a bottle once.  Our little risk-taker decided to fall out of the crib one morning.  Now it's to the big girl bed she goes.  So far she is doing OK with it.  We shall see.

D - Dresses. We have finally hit the "dress" stage with Jackie.  She wants to put on a pretty dress everyday. I'm sure to have stocked up on summer play dresses!

E - Ethan and Jill.  Jackie now knows our first names.  This is fun...

F - Fairy God Mother.  Thanks to Jackie's love of "Shrek 2" she has dubbed a little stuffed dog her "Barry-God-Mudder" and no one is allowed to touch it.  Ever.

G - Gewurztraminer.  My husband's new favorite type of wine.   Give it a try...kinda sweet, but not too sweet.  White.

H - House of Cards.  My love of politics (and hate...) plus watching my cousin as "Meechum" makes for an obsessive week when I can binge watch as many episodes at a time as I can stay awake for!

I - "It's about time!"  Katerina is finally, finally starting to let go of mommy and play.  Play with sissy, watch Shrek, or just chill with daddy.  It has been a VERY LONG process and it's not completely finished yet, she still has her clingy days, but it looks like she may give me a break!  After having two very different children, the clingy "gotta have mommy and only mommy" one drove me bananas!

J - Jack-Attack!  Our almost-three-year-old who thinks she owns the world.  Each day she is reminded that she is not the boss.  She takes after her mama right down to those brown eyes and long legs.  Her favorite new phrase is "Come on! Get it for me."  Patience is a process...  She loves, LOVES babies and asks constantly for a baby brother.  If she tells you she is going to have a new brother, make sure you check the source before you believe her.  I am not pregnant.

K -  "Kit-Kat." Our little nickname for Katerina.  She is a risk-taker, people pleaser, and chowing down food like she's in a growth spurt.  She definitely has her mother's sweet tooth, but everything else seems to be just like daddy, right down to those baby blue eyes and curls in her hair!

L - Lake house.  My brother John recently bought a lake house in Missouri.  We are looking forward to our first trip out there to visit.  Can't wait to enjoy some quality family time swimming, boating, and getting some sun.

M - Mommy Bottle.  One day Ethan took Jackie with him to run some errands.  One of those errands happened to be stopping by the liquor store to pick up some wine.  He mentioned to Jackie that they were there to pick up a "Mommy Bottle."  It has stuck with her.  Anytime she sees a wine bottle it is "Mommy Bottle."  Nice...

N - New car.  We have hopefully made the last big purchase that we will need to for quite some time.  Ethan decided that he was tired of cramming his 6'4" frame into the little Honda.  It was time for a change.  We traded in the boat and the Honda for a Chrysler 200.  Bright Royal Blue.  It fits him perfectly!  Someday I will drive it... :)

O - "Ohhhhh" followed by surprised eyes and hands that cover her mouth.  Katerina's new favorite gesture.  She will randomly turn and look at us with this expression.  Of course she is wanting a reaction so she can giggle and continue with whatever she was doing before.

P -  Princess Fiona.  This is the only princess we care about at this point.  I'm OK with it because I happen to think she is the coolest of all the princesses.  We have not attempted "Frozen" yet.  I don't plan on it for a while.

Q - Quarters.  "These are for church." Or any other type of coin.  Jackie loves to put coins in the collection basket at church.  She even took a handful to church herself in her purse. She only put in a couple pennies, saving the rest for next week.  :)

R - Rah Rah.  (Or Ruff Ruff)  Katerina is a puppy nut!  She LOVES dogs.  Anytime she sees a picture of a dog she gets all excited and yells "rah rah."  And if she happens to see a real doggy.  She is in love.

S - Spring!  Bring on warmer weather, open windows, and outside play!

T - Time Change.  Speaking of "Spring."  I am hoping Spring Forward will help the girls stay in bed just a little longer...mommy needs to get some things done!

U - Underdogs.  The Rockies this year.  Hoping for a Cinderella season... At least we can root for the Shockers!

V - Voice.  I lost mine this weekend. Do you know how hard it is to be a mother of two children under the age of 3 and not have a voice?  I'm really hoping I don't have to find out what it is like to teach a classroom full of middle-schoolers without a voice.  Maybe wine will help...

W - Where the Wild Things Are.  I went digging through my old tubs of "stuff I thought I needed to keep" from my childhood.  Found that book.  I forgot I had it and I promptly took it out and read it to Jackie.  I have two copies of the book, it was always my plan to cut out the pages, frame, them and hang them around a nursery.  Hmmm...maybe next time.

X - ShoX!  Bring on March Madness!

Y - YMCA.  The pool to be exact.  I have never seen bigger smiles on my girls than when they are playing, splashing and jumping in the water.  Will make for a fun summer!

Z - Zoo.  Jackie keeps asking to go to the zoo.  We went one of those beautiful days this winter and she took to it.  I can't wait for summer so we can go more often.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Great Orange Meltdown of 2015

We are a little over a month away from having a 3 year old in our house.  Which means only one thing.

We are smack-dab in the middle of the so-called "terrible twos." 

I say "so-called" because she hasn't been consistently "terrible."

But she has her moments.

Each and every day Jackie learns the hard lesson that she is not the center of the universe.  This lesson apparently needs to be learned over and over and over until it finally starts to sink in.  It still hasn't sunk in.

Which was made abundantly clear on one cold Saturday morning in January.

For weeks, Jackie and Kat have been devouring those little Halo/Cutie oranges.  I can't peal them fast enough.  Luckily they are easy to peal :)

It was a normal Saturday morning.  Jackie was up at 6 AM and ready for a snack. Never-mind that the previous morning saw me trying to drag a sleepy, cranky child out of bed at 7 AM so we could make it out the door on time.   Everyone else was enjoying the fact that it was Saturday and were sleeping.

Anyway, as per her normal request, Jackie asked for an orange.  Rarely do I refuse this request,'s fruit!

I did what I always do.  Pealed the orange while those little brown eyes watched and she sucked on her little thumb.

After throwing the peal away, I broke it in half so she can pick off the individual sections herself.  

Again, this is the way we always did it.  I pealed it, broke in half and she enjoyed the citrus-y goodness.  

Oh no.  Not today. Because sometime between Friday night (her last orange) and Saturday morning at 6 AM, Jackie decided that she did NOT want me to break the orange in half.  

That was now to be her job.  

I had no prior knowledge of this change.  No memo.  No warning.  No previous reason to think I might be making a GIANT mistake.

But mistake it was...

She proceeded to scream and cry like I had just cut her baby doll in half and fed it to the dogs.  She REFUSED to eat that orange, and just sat in her chair and cried, screamed for me to get her another one.

You know what doesn't mix well with a screaming, drama-filled toddler?  

A stubborn mommy.

She did not get a new orange.  I put the "inedible orange" in a baggie for her sister to eat later and she learned the all-to-common lesson that "Jackie is not the center of the universe." Again.   

Although, now I had received the memo; oranges are NOT to be broken in half from this point forward.  I gladly shared the news with Ethan as he poked his sleepy head out of the bedroom to see what horrible thing could have possibly caused Jackie to become such a sobbing "hot mess."

"Seriously, an orange??"

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Getting Them in the Kitchen...

I like to consider myself a pretty balanced mom when it comes to the food my kids eat.  We try, most times, to make healthy choices, but are open to the occasional stop along the drive-through.  Sometimes the meal I make is all from scratch and includes only clean prepared ingredients.

And sometimes it's a cheesy, can of cream of mushroom, smothered casserole that my mom made when I was little.

Sometimes it's fruit and Greek yogurt.  Sometimes it's ice cream.

Who am I's usually ice cream :)

Our kids do well most of the time at meal time.  We have our moments of baby teething and toddler "I'm DONE's."  But for the most part we have been pretty lucky in that our girls will usually eat whatever I put in front of them.  I attribute this to two things...

1.  They have what we are having, and always have.  I don't make two or three separate dinners.  Everyone has tator-tot-casserole or the baked talapia.  Most times they eat it, sometimes they don't.

2.  I try to get Jackie in the kitchen "helping" me whenever I can.

I saw this a long time ago, while I was in college (way before Ethan or kids) and watching Rachel Ray's 30 minute meals.  She talked all the time about how cooking dinner was a family event.  Everyone was involved and it resulted in children who weren't picky.  I thought...that is cool!  THAT is what I'm going to do.

And it has stuck with me.  I try to involve Jackie in the kitchen as much as possible.  Katerina is just getting to the age where she is curious, but her jobs are limited to watching from her high chair and eating while Jackie and I work.

Tonight was baked ziti, cheesy garlic bread, and salad.

Jackie got to help with each part.  Ethan took advantage of the moment and snapped a few great photos of our evening.

Here she is helping mix the salad.  I chopped everything and she put it all together...while sampling peppers, romaine lettuce, and grape tomatoes.

Katerina tried to help...

but ended up snacking on a banana and bell pepper instead.

Jackie stirred the cheese mixture for the ziti..

poured the spices and cheese for the cheesy bread...

and helped lay the cheese layer in the casserole dish.

Don't forget to taste it first!

Oh...and a little something for mommy and daddy :)

Every single time I have her help in the kitchen it results in a great dinner experience for everyone.  Yes, there is a bigger mess and everything takes longer than it should, but results speak for themselves...

And I would be lying if I said that there wasn't some future planning in all of this...someday I'm going to ask my girls to cook dinner, and I want them to be comfortable in the kitchen and know how to make a yummy ziti!  I'm hoping for sooner rather than later... :-)