Since returning to the states, an unexpected challenge has been getting Angelina to drink liquid throughout the day. Raised in an orphanage without potable water, she was most likely accustomed to being chronically dehydrated. During the weeks we spent at her orphanage, my husband and I noticed that the kids got a mug of water with meals and at snack-time and Angelina was prone to take a swig or two but no more. It is seriously a daily challenge to get her to drink a total of 8oz of anything: water, juice, chocolate milk, kefir.
Although initially a hearty eater, Angelina has started to dabble with the idea of being a picky eater. It’s a novel idea for her, like getting a taste of freedom, knowing that if she doesn’t eat this meal, there will be more food soon and she will never go to bed hungry.
We already have a family culture of family meals together for dinner and also usually breakfast. For over 4 years my husband and I have had the following approach to mealtime and it has held us in good stead through the first couple weeks post-adoption. We don’t want dinnertime to be a battle to get kids to eat food, we want it to be a family time together. That means if a kid doesn’t want to eat the food mom made, fine, they don’t HAVE to, but there are no alternative meal options and they need to stay at the dinner table while the rest of the family eats. This makes meal times so much more enjoyable because mom and dad aren’t spending the entire time counting bites, threatening, or bribing. If a kid starts whining they get the “you get what you get so don’t throw a fit” phrase and everyone keeps on with the meal. A bored child at the table will eventually pick at their food, even just a little, and sometimes they discover that they food in front of them is actually tasty (just like mom and dad said).
But I have had to become a little more creative in getting full servings of vegetables in all the kids’ diets. Angelina’s example of refusing anything flavorful or colorful is rubbing off on her younger siblings. For now, this is not something I want to tackle as a battle of the wills, though if the trend continues into next year I may have to reconsider my approach.
In these early months, as we all adjust to a new normal, I’m taking the sneaky straw route. I picked these straws (or ones like it, not 100% sure these are the exact ones) up at Target and oh my goodness, it’s like having my very own magic wand collection! For breakfast or dinner I will whip up a smoothie for everyone. The base is water and kefir, I toss in raw cauliflower, sweet potatoes, an avocado if i have one on hand, a banana, a piece of roast beet (for the color) and any other frozen fruit I picked up at Aldi that week.
Usually I try to have most of this blended up before the kids arrive in the kitchen, but I save the best part till the kids are all gathered, watching the magic happen. With a huge show, as if I can’t believe my actions, I pull out a carton of vanilla ice cream from the freezer. Wooooooow, ice cream! My four-year old helps build the hype as she squeals and prances around the kitchen. She CANNOT believe mom is actually serving ice cream for breakfast. Angelina and Kitty pick up on her contagious excitement as I drop a tablespoon or two of vanilla ice cream into the blender.
By the time I plop the veggie laden smoothies, complete with funky straws, onto the dining table the kids are foaming at the mouth with glee and slurp up every last bit of ice cream (with cauliflower, sweet potato, kale, avocado, blue berries, etc) There is of course the added bonus of Angelina getting at least 80z of fluid in that single smoothie as well. Ahhh, the sweet, sweet taste of victory.