The ‘Charlie and Lola’ Dinner for Picky Eaters

My son and I both love the Charlie and Lola books by Lauren Child. He giggles at the silly things that Lola does, while I love the mixed media illustrations (and the excuse to use my bad British accent when reading aloud).

lola-and-charlie

The one that gets reread the most in our house — because it’s the only one we own — is I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato. As you could guess, it’s about being a picky eater, something most every parent faces. (If you’re a parent and you don’t have this problem, keep it to yourself or everyone else will secretly loathe you. No one wants to hear about how your kid prefers edamame to ice cream.)

CharlieandLolaIWillNotEat_InternalPB_9781846168864

In the book, Lola’s older brother Charlie cleverly tricks her into eating the foods she hates most: “Oh this isn’t mashed potato. People often think that but no, this is cloud fluff from the pointiest peak of Mount Fuji.”

When we first started reading this book, Jed wasn’t eating half of the foods on Lola’s No Fly List. That’s when I suggested that we have a “Charlie and Lola dinner” one night.

Clockwise from top left: Orange twiglets from Jupiter, moonsquirters,  ocean nibbles from the supermarket under the sea, cloud fluff, and green drops from Greenland (middle).
Clockwise from top left: Orange twiglets from Jupiter, moonsquirters, ocean nibbles from the supermarket under the sea, cloud fluff, and green drops from Greenland (middle).

It was a total hit. For the first time ever, Jed ate all of his moonsquirters, orange twiglets, green drops, and cloud fluff (ocean nibbles are an easy sell in our house, but for the record he ate all of those, too).

There’s no recipe to share for this one — it’s just that easy.

Have you tricked your picky eater into trying (and even liking) new foods? Please share!

Beetle Mania

“Are you sure you want to read that again? Don’t you want to watch some TV instead?” I swear I never thought these words would come out of my mouth. That was before my son found The Beetle Book by Steve Jenkins.

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I actually love this book — it’s beautifully illustrated and very informative yet on a level that apparently even a three-year-old can comprehend. But read anything six times a day and you will roll your eyes the seventh time around.

Jed now knows every type of beetle you could possibly imagine. He can tell you which ones are poisonous, and which beetle can sense fire from 20 miles away. He amazes adults as he refers to the rose chafer beetle and longhorn beetle. And he giggles as he talks about the dung beetle. He also now thinks every wasp is actually a wasp beetle, so I have to remind him that it most likely is indeed a wasp and not its harmless counterpart in disguise. And if I refer to a ladybug, he quickly corrects me, “It’s a ladybird beetle.” We’re actually both right, but it tickles me just the same.

We returned it to the library a couple of days ago and I breathed a sigh of relief. Until, that is, Jed asked if we could check out another beetle book. I’m not sure how many beetle books there are out there, but I have a feeling I’m about to find out. I’m not keen on another beetle book, but I would love to read more from Steve Jenkins. He’s written some other animal and science books that have his wonderful illustrations, only look a little more toddler-specific, like these collaborations with Robin Page: 

jenkinstrio

I emailed Steve Jenkins to let him know what a great fan he has in Jed and he was so sweet to respond within a day. He’s actually from a town less than two hours from where we live though he lives in Colorado now. I hope he’ll come back this way to do a reading and book signing. The nice guy he is, he said he’d be sure to tell us if and when this happens. And when it does happen, I know who’ll be first in line.

I also see an Amazon purchase in my future. I’ve enjoyed my beetle break, but it can’t last forever with a son who loves beetles as much as Jed does. I just try to put things in perspective: at least he’s not obsessed with guns and fighting. Or golf. I really loathe golf.

Great Yoga Book For Kids

I love the library. And with the amount of late fees I pay, I’m guessing the library loves me, too. One of my latest finds is this yoga book for kids by Taeeun Yoo called You Are a Lion! And Other Fun Yoga Poses.

Jed loves doing yoga with me. Up until now, I’ve been winging it and trying to remember all of the fun animal poses off the top of my head. This book not only picks some great ones, it also illustrates them beautifully and rhymes, starting with a “namaste to the morning” and going through a series of poses including butterfly, snake and mountain before ending with savasana and a “namaste to each other.” I say namaste. Jed says, “Happy birthday!” Hey, it’s his yogic journey. Whatever floats his  boat pose.

When he grabs the book and runs to his mat (which is always, always out on the floor) saying “Let’s do yoga, Mommy!” it makes my heart melt. Having a boy, I pretty much knew my child wouldn’t likely share my love of vintage clothing and shoes, but boys can like yoga. And, well, Jed does love wearing my shoes.

The Baby Whisperer

My friend Emily visited this week with her four-month-old daughter, Maggie. It was the first time I’d met Maggie and it was love at first sight…

Maggie and Me

…at least it was for me.

Jed was so adorable with her. In addition to telling me over and over, “I love babies,” he also gave her his lamp to use in the guest room and offered to share his crackers (which she politely declined via Mommy). I’m not under the delusion that a more permanent junior resident in our household would yield the same enthusiasm, but it was cute to see how Jed reacted with a baby.

Not only did Emily bring the cutest baby ever, she also brought the most thoughtful gifts for her hosts. First for Jed, who loves to read:

bedtime shadow book

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This book is so clever! Jed was so excited to use the flashlight to see the pictures that there hasn’t been one “negotiation” to get him into bed this week.

For me, Emily read my recent post on Orla Kiely and got me this stationery:

Orla Kiely notecards
Photo from LRstitched.

It’s a gift that says both “I know you” and “I read your blog.” Gotta love that:) And what I love almost as much is the gift bag in which it came:

cupcake gift bag

The best thing of all was just having them here. Rain and ick made it difficult to explore Asheville with a baby and toddler (not to mention opposite nap schedules), but when you’re with a good friend, does it really matter where you are? Unless of course you’re trapped in a gas station bathroom together with Kenny G Muzak playing on repeat. That would suck.

Belly to Belly: Going Up Against Mother Goose

Whether you’re into the cool, hip children’s books like Goodnight iPad and Go the F**k to Sleep (okay, hardly a children’s book) or you’re a fan of the classics like Goodnight Moon, one lady will be unavoidable in your child’s literary rearing: Mother Goose. She’s gifted at showers, she’s at preschool, she’s at friends’ houses… and she’s got issues.

Reading them to my child revived certain memories of my own childhood: my favorite nursery rhyme book, the way the stitching in the illustrations rose off the pages. But some of them I don’t remember. And others that I loved now look completely different in the light of adulthood. Perhaps my brain protected me from the more violent rhymes by blocking them out. Or maybe my mom skipped over them, because she, too, was shocked at the brute force of these tumultuous tales. Or perhaps the same mind that searches the entire house for the cell phone that’s in her pocket could also have conceivably forgotten a few of these over the years.

At any rate, for the more offensive ones, I’ve taken to rewriting some of the words. For other questionable rhymes, I know that Jed’s too young to really derive anything devious or sinister, so I let it slide. But that doesn’t mean I don’t stew.

Here’s a closer look at five nursery rhymes that get my goat goose:

“Goosey Goosey Gander”

Goosey goosey gander,
Whither shall I wander?
Upstairs and downstairs
And in my lady’s chamber.
There I met an old man
Who wouldn’t say his prayers,
So I took him by his left leg
And threw him down the stairs

My line: I said, “That’s okay ’cause I really don’t cares.”

My take: I chose a message of religious tolerance (and tolerance for Royalist sympathizers) over correct grammar.

“There Was An Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe”

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do;
She gave them some broth without any bread;
Then whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.

My line: Then read them a story

My take: I get that she can’t afford to feed them, but the beating seems unprovoked. Two is too young for gratuitous violence.

“Rub-a-dub-dub”

Rub a dub dub,
Three men in a tub,
And who do you think they be?
The butcher, the baker,
The candlestick maker.
Turn them out, knaves all three

My take: I don’t have any alternate verses. This one was more about the concept, and in particular the illustration that accompanied the rhyme in our book. Think about it: three old men taking a bath together, each holding a very phallic-shaped object (sausage, baguette and candlestick respectively). Not exactly suitable for small children, but totally over Jed’s head, so we read it anyways.

“Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater”

Peter Peter pumpkin eater,
Had a wife and couldn’t keep her;
He put her in a pumpkin shell,
And there he kept her very well.

My take: Not only does this scream domestic abuse, but Peter is also obviously a sociopath, possibly a serial killer. Can you imagine the media madness that would unfold modern day if it was discovered that a woman was being held captive by her husband? In a pumpkin? “Peter was the nicest man,” said their neighbor, “He helped us clean our gutters every fall.” Freak. Show.

“Humpty Dumpty”

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again

My take: I love that this is one of Jed’s favorite rhymes as I’m obsessed with anything and everything Alice (HD makes an appearance in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass). But Jed gets sad when Humpty Dumpty falls. Well, first he thinks it’s funny, and then his face turns sad, followed by an “Oh no!” and “What to do?” I hate that I don’t have an explanation or happy ending for him. I suppose I could tell him Humpty Dumpty underwent multiple major surgeries, but even if he recovered, I can only imagine what his hospital bill would look like (debt — an entirely different unhappy ending). Is there a tangible lesson that he can learn from Humpty’s misfortune? It’s always good to know not to climb on walls. The best lesson to learn from this rhyme is a simple one. It’s never too early to learn that sometimes, shit poop happens.

What are your favorite nursery rhymes? Do you think some are too violent?