Tag Archives: kids

The power of Veggies

We are a cooking family. We love to take raw ingredients and make them into something wonderful and delicious. It’s an art form really. But even more than turning nothing into something, cooking is a way to get my kids to eat food that is good for them.
We used to eat out a lot. I mean, sometimes twice a day. Not only was that a drain on our wallet, but it was full of unhealthy, fried, and fatty foods. Oh sure, they tasted delicious, but they were wreaking havoc on our bodies and we didn’t care.
As I said in my last post, the kids and I moved last year. And with us came my parents. My parents are used to cooking at home. My dad is a chef turned computer software engineer. But here’s the key part of that sentence: chef. My dad cooks most of the meals in our house, mostly because he enjoys it. But the things he makes… lamb burger sliders, potato meal pancakes, homemade enchiladas … anything that has flavor and wonderfulness. And my darling children, used to fast, fried foods, wouldn’t touch it. We tried every bribe we could think of. Finally, my dad gave up on cooking the “fancy” stuff and made chicken pieces with garlic and salt. They were delicious. The kids loved them. And then the next day, Selina asked if she could help him make them. So we had chicken again the next night, but this time, they were lovingly prepared by Selina, with the help of my dad and the “special ingredient” (garlic).
And soon, as we weaned off of the fast food lifestyle, we began to notice that the kids were interested in more and more food items. And the key to that change: having the kids help make dinner. Their favorite thing to make is salad.
It seems simple enough, but when they are a part of actually making what goes on the table, they seem to be more interested in actually eating it. They are proud of what they are accomplishing.
Now, Selina is 5 and has been cooking for almost a year. Evin is 20 months and has been cooking for the past 2 months. Who would have thought that they would be so interested in something as simple as making a salad.
making salad salad made

Look at those happy little faces. How on earth could I say “no, I’m going to make the salad myself” to those big eyes and wide smiles?
It may take us longer to make dinner, but, I tell you the truth, it’s TOTALLY worth every extra minute.

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Epic Win for Intrinsic Value

Please note that while this particular blog post has a religious background, the message can and should be used for all children.  And by “all,” I really mean “any child who you love.”


I have gone to church my entire life.  I still enjoy going.  In fact, I am going this evening.  While in high school, I attended two churches on a regular basis.  It was from one pastor, Bruce, that I learned about Intrinsic Value. Image(This is Bruce.  Hi Bruce!  Picture credit: Bruce’s facebook)

I am a smart person. I love large, rarely used words. I read a lot. But seriously, I had never heard the word “intrinsic.”  For those of you who are in the same boat I was in, intrinsic means that something, or someone, has value just for its own sake.  The message that Bruce was trying to portray was that we have intrinsic value to God.

Fast forward 12 years (yes, 12).  There is Selina, deciding to throw a tantrum in the middle of the court so that all of the neighbors can hear.  I can’t even remember what it was about, but I do remember that we were going to be late.  I hate being late.  So as I pick up the screaming 4 year old and place her in the car, I tell her that I don’t like the choice that she had made.  Of course, her smart little mind had a momentary lapse of smartness and my words got translated to “I don’t like you.”  And that started another wave of hysterics. 

We get to my in-law’s house just about the time that she calms down.  As we walk into the house,  I drop the baby off with the rest of the family and haul Selina upstairs to have a chat.  But honestly, how can I tell her that she has intrinsic value to me?  Yes she’s smart, but she’s still 4.  But here’s what I came up with:

“Selina, I love you with all of my heart.  Sometimes you have a hard day and you make choices that I don’t like.  I love you and I always will. There is absolutely nothing that you can do to make me stop loving you.  But I don’t like some of choices that you make.  But I love you.”

I know.  Repetitive. But she left happy and had a fairly good evening afterwards.  But that is a seriously hard concept to grab.  I tried anyways.

Skip to last week.  I was having a very rough day.  After I got off work (at 10pm), I went to pick up the kids to take them home.  I thought they were both asleep, so I wasn’t worried that they would overhear me crying in my bedroom.  A little body appeared in my doorway and slowly made its way onto my bed where I was crying. 

“What’s wrong Mommy?”  my little girl asked.

“Nothing, baby.” I replied. “I’m just having a hard day.”

And somewhere in her mind a trigger was set off and she told me “It’s ok Mommy.  Sometimes you have a hard day and make bad choices.  But I still love you.  And I always will.”

Epic win for intrinsic value.

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A Typical Thanksgiving Blog

Once upon a time, pilgrims came to North America, killed all the natives and took control of the “new” world.  And our forefathers decided to celebrate this!  Hurrah! Feasts! Family! Black Friday!


That concept is so clearly wrong.  So instead of the pilgrim story this year, my family has written our own story.  Why we are thankful this year.  Here it is:


Unknown to us, the Cortez family started 5 and a half years ago when Matt and I first went on our first date.  We went to see Pan’s Labyrinth.  And then we ate Del Taco.  Typical college date.  A year later, after much drama, we welcomed a beautiful little girl into our little piece of the world.  Simply said, we loved her.  She was the light of our lives.  I am thankful for her health, her attitude and her ability to go with the flow.  She brings so much stability to our lives.  Without her, my heart would be broken.  Several years later, Matt and I were married.  I am thankful for the promises we made and the sense of responsibility we feel towards each other.  I am thankful for his hard work and his loving gazes he gives his children.  Several years later, we bought a house together.  I am so grateful for a stable place we can call our own and raise our children.  We are able to do what we like with what we have.  We have the ability to make the most of our lives in a warm and comfortable environment. How many people can say that this year?  I know we are fortunate to have 2 jobs that pay enough to give us everything we need.  Then, 6 months ago, we welcomed a bouncy and giggly baby boy into our hearts.  I am thankful for Selina’s innate ability to love her little brother.  I am thankful for his developmental strides as he learns so quickly.


And lastly, I am thankful for my marriage.  While we have our ups and downs, just like any couple, I am thankful that we have always been able to get it straight again.  I am grateful that we will be able to that, no matter what. Literally.  No matter what.


And now for something much more entertaining!


Selina, bless her soul, wanted to play doctor with her brother yesterday morning.  We were on our way out the door to meet Papa for breakfast so I said “You can play doctor when we get home.”  When we got home, Evin was asleep.  I decided to take that opportunity and hop in the shower.  Selina’s task was to “watch” her brother while he slept, AKA “stay in the same room and go get mom if he starts crying.”  We’ve done this many, many times before (how else do you thing I shower?).   I’m almost done when Selina walks in the bathroom with a horrified look on her face.  She proceeds to tell me “Brother woke up when I gave him a shot.”  Wait, what?!?!?  She couldn’t wait to play doctor with him and decided to play with him while he was sleeping, effectively waking him up.  Good job Pookie.  I guess I should have been much clearer when I first told her “later.”


And on a side note, Thanksgiving style,  Ben Franklin enjoyed eating turkey just as much as the next person and did not want it to be our national bird.  Look  here’s proof.


Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  I hope you spend a wonderful day with your families, writing your own thankful story.

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How to Survive One of Those Days

5:15 am. I heard a little voice next to my ear.

“Mommy, can you put Brother in his crib so I can sleep with you?”

Simple enough request.  But you must understand that we have been co-sleeping with Evin for 5 months now and if I move him away from human contact, he wakes up immediately and refuses to go back to sleep.  (OK, I haven’t really tried to break him of this too hard.   I enjoy cuddling too much.)  So we all shift around and get her into the bed too.  After 30 minutes of laying here, singing quietly to herself,  Selina finally asks me lay with her in her bed.  Fine, I say.  Anything to get another hour of sleep.

Then 8:30 rolls around and my husband peeks his head in the doorway and says “Don’t you have to be somewhere?”  Oh yeah, the pumpkin patch with Selina’s class.  I should have started getting ready to go a half hour ago.

The next two hours goes something like this “Whine, whine, whine, fake cry, real cry and some more whining.”  I threaten not going to the field trip.  This, unfortunately, does not make things better, only worse.  How do I get it to stop?

Then it hit me.  (This is where you want to start taking notes.)  We’re going to have a Quiet Day.  Everything we do has to be quiet, calm and not hurried.  Of course, Selina sees this as a game and has to tattle on Evin every time he starts to cry.  So far today, we’ve had a leasurly stroll through a corn maze, made bread and hot coco and ate lunch as a family (with Daddy at his work!). The plan for after nap is to make dinner, scrub toilets and play dolls on the floor.

Whenever my kids get cranky, whiny or all out grouchy, I have to remind myself that they’re not being upset just to be upset, something is wrong with them.  They are either hungry, tired, sick or they need some Mommy time away from everyone else.  Today, when Selina asked me to climb in bed with her, it gave me a clue.  She needs me.  And she needs all of my eyes, ears, mind and heart.  She knows that she has to share me with Brother,  but today was a day that I needed to be with her and not rush her to do anything.

Here are some good Quiet Day activities that we love:

Make cookies.

Make bread.

Make dinner.

Make hot coco, then sip it slowly while reading a bunch of books.

Make a pillow and blanket fort.  Grab a flashlight and some books.  Read aloud.


Take a pan.  Put a bunch of baking soda in it. (We used the whole box.)  Take vinegar and put it into little bowls.  Add food coloring to the vinegar.  Use a dropper or syringe to drop the colors on the white baking soda.  Watch reaction.  Enjoy quiet for at least 30 minutes.

Anything arts and crafty.


Quiet Day is something that you really have to commit to.  Kids know when you’re bored and they’re going to start acting up again.  This is a solution that works for my family.  Maybe it will work for yours.

Also, for those who are keeping track, no fast food has been consumed in 1 whole week.  I am so proud of us.

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