Gifts for Dad ➔

Picture it. A busy kitchen. Dirty dishes from cooking piled up in the sink. Big brother saying he doesn’t like dinner and making gagging noises. Little sister playing with her food and making a mess. Meanwhile, the baby is throwing food (and making a HUGE mess!) and mom and dad are trying desperately to have an adult conversation and have officially reached stressed out status. I think a similar situation plays out in many homes across the country every night. That could easily be our family, but it’s not. At least not anymore. After doing the food battles for a while, we decided it was a battle we didn’t think was worth fighting. Our dinner time has become a pleasant experience in our home. At least most nights.

Our youngest received that dreaded Failure to Thrive diagnosis when she was 9 months old. She’s still incredibly tiny (we’re in the process of ruling out any medical reasons). Because of that, we’ve met with nutritionists over the years and they’ve said our job is to offer healthy food and her job is to eat it. Despite her tiny size, the professionals were telling us to simply offer food and leave the rest up to her. No food battles. Ever. Well, that seemed easy enough. Plus, I really had no interest in playing the battles of the wills with any of my children. So, we made dinner (with an extra serving of butter for the youngest), sat at the table as a family and enjoyed each other’s company. Sometimes all the kids would eat and ask for more. Sometimes they barely took a bite. But I didn’t care. This was a way better dining experience and made our home a happier place. Plus, if they were truly hungry they would eventually eat.

We’ve since changed our stance a little bit. There’s certain things I don’t like as a grown up. Sea food, anyone? Sometimes, I’m just not in the mood for something even though I like it. I would be upset if someone put a plate of food in front of me that I didn’t like and expected me to eat it. If I go to a restaurant, I get to choose my meal. I don’t have to finish it either. There’s nobody telling me “just 3 more bites.” In our home, my husband and I decide what we’re having for dinner. It’s nice to have that choice. So now we give our kids that choice too and get them involved in meal planning and prepping too. This one might seem shocking to some, but sometimes we even eat different meals. I don’t feel like a short order cook and that was never my intention, but yes, on occasion, I make multiple meals. If my husband and I are having steak and the kids don’t want it, you better believe I’m not going to waste a good piece of meat on them. I’ll happily whip up a box of mac and cheese. They are also able to make themselves a sandwich with fruit and vegetables on the side if they so wish. If they’re simply not hungry, that’s okay too. They still sit with us at the table but can get themselves dinner later. To me, quality family time at the table is more important than the food we eat.

Often kids have little to no choice on a lot of issues. That’s hard. Kids are smart and we don’t always give them enough credit. My kids know what food is healthy and what food isn’t and they usually make appropriate choices. If they chose what to eat (especially if they helped prepare it), I’ve found that they are a lot more likely to enjoy it.

For some people, the food battle is very much worth it and I respect their choices. But to me? It’s just not. I don’t like cucumbers or tomatoes. My kids love them. I love mushrooms and Brussel sprouts. My kids don’t. I’ll eat what I enjoy and they can eat what they prefer and we can all enjoy a nice meal together. We all like that.

Alissa Kay

Alissa was born and raised in the Midwest and currently calls Wisconsin home. She's happily married to her college sweetheart and she's living out her dreams of being a stay-at-home mom. Although, let's be real, she's hardly ever home. She's the mom to 3 kids who all came to her via adoption. A boy (8) and 2 girls (6 and almost 4!). The kids keep her plenty busy, but when she has free time she enjoys a night out with friends or curling up with a good book.

Oh, How I’ll Miss Little You

In: Kids, Motherhood
Child standing in leaves, looking up, color photo

Oh, my sweet little child, I wish you could stay this little forever. I wish these days would never end. They are busy, loud, and chaotic—but, oh, how I love them! They make my life feel whole. Complete. I don’t know what I will do when these days are gone. I will miss your sweet little face looking up at me. The innocence in your eyes. Your sweet little grin. I will miss how your face lights up when you see me. How your little arms manage to give me the biggest hugs. How I can make everything better with...

Keep Reading

There’s Just Something about a 4-Year-Old

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood
4 year old girl smiling outside

There’s just something about a 4-year-old. The way their bubbly laughs and sweet little faces still have some traces of babyhood while they’re transforming into more and more of their own unique person right before your eyes.  The way they ask questions about everything under the sun, listen wide-eyed to your clumsy answers, and believe every single word you say. It’s so innocent (and scary) the way they believe absolutely anything you tell them—just because you’re “mommy.”  The way their still-a-little-chubby hand finds yours. And the way they still come running to you for a hug and kiss when they’re hurt. Or...

Keep Reading

Find the People Who Will Root for You

In: Friendship, Kids, Motherhood
Empty sports field, color photo

My son participated in tryouts out for a new travel soccer team at the end of a recreational fall soccer season one chilly evening in November. He has been playing recreational soccer since he was three years old when we started with the local club. He has been asking about joining a travel team since kindergarten. In recent seasons, I watched him struggle in the recreational league. I watched him wanting a little bit more in the sport as he developed his passion—he was ready to grow.  We knew he loved soccer, and it was something he had always wanted...

Keep Reading

You Don’t Raise Your Babies to Be Little Forever, but I Thought I’d Have More Time

In: Kids, Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Little boy peeking over wooden fence, color photo

I can see the yellow blur of the school bus passing in front of my window. Soon my little boy will excitedly burst through the front door with his picture of a giraffe from art class. His big brown eyes will meet mine as I get a toothless “I missed you, Mom” grin. He will tell me everything he had on his tray for lunch, recount the whole soccer game at recess, and share all about that hilarious thing his friend said on the bus. He will then sit on my lap as he takes each school paper out of...

Keep Reading

No Man in a Girl’s Life Holds More Influence than Her Dad

In: Kids, Marriage, Motherhood
Father and daughter on amusement ride, color photo

As I sat outside Walmart watching my husband of nearly 16 years walk in with my 9-year-old daughter to buy me a box of tampons, I realized how blessed I am.  This is real life. Not only does he not care about running into the store and picking up these items, he asks our girls if they want to join him, and they use this time to talk. They talk about real-life—about growing up, changing bodies, what tampons are even for, how they can wait years and years before they need to start dating, how he will be waiting outside...

Keep Reading

My Little Girl Has Big, Brave Dreams

In: Kids, Motherhood
School paper with little girl's handwriting, color photo

My 6-year-old daughter wants to be a soldier.   When we heard from the ultrasound tech that we were having another girl, that was not exactly the career path that popped into our heads.   There’s something absolutely terrifying knowing your child wants to do something big like this. I’m sure I’d be petrified if I had a son with the same ambition, but there’s something extra scary about it being your little girl. There’s something weighty about raising a daughter who wants to be a soldier. But honestly, it’s not a surprise at all. RELATED: God Has Filled Your...

Keep Reading

As My Children Grow, I Miss It All—Even the Sick Days

In: Kids, Motherhood
Toddler on mom's shoulder

I whisk my daughter through the doors of urgent care and cradle her head as I stand behind three other mamas clinging to their babies. We’re each rocking in different ways but moving nonetheless. The silent, comforting rhythm of motherhood. I see sad, sick eyes from the babies with their heads nestled into the necks of their mama. I’m tired from the sleepless night, and I shift from foot to foot. There is hushing and humming and back-patting. A pacifier drops to the floor. All of a sudden my daughter feels heavy. A vague sinking feeling comes over me, like...

Keep Reading

Life with Autism Is Full of Ticking Time Bombs

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother, father, teen daughter, color photo

Many of us who live with autism are familiar with the comings and goings of the ticking time bomb—one that disappears for periods of time, so much so that we might forget about it. Then, suddenly, this bomb drops at our doorstep in the form of a returning or new obstacle, so intense that it causes us to pause our lives, alter our plans, maybe even change our current paths. For our family, the new challenge has been sudden, piercing, sporadic screams. Not constant, not even often, thankfully, but jolting nonetheless. So here we were, in the midst of our...

Keep Reading

Youth Sports Build Strong Kids

In: Kids
Young girl with gymnastics medal, color photo

My kids are heavily involved in sports. My son plays for an elite basketball team and my daughter competes on an Xcel gymnastics team. It takes up a lot of our time and a lot of our money. Even though prioritizing youth sports seems to be an American norm, we still sometimes receive criticism and judgment as to why we would spend so much of our time and resources on it. (“Don’t you know the chances of your child going pro is less than 1%?”) As I sat at my daughter’s gymnastics meet, listening to the parents cheer so excitedly...

Keep Reading

Don’t Let Anyone Rush You, Mama

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother with two kids at home relaxing

From the moment our children are born, other people make it challenging to stay in the present moment—they start asking questions that look forward instead of at the now we are in. Can you believe how big she’s getting, where did your newborn go? Oh my goodness, he’ll be walking any day now! Are you thinking about preschool? What will you do when they’re both in school? What will you do when your baby goes to college? While these questions may come with good intentions, they’re not helpful at all. We moms need to be allowed to be fully in...

Keep Reading

 5 Secrets to Connect with Your Kids


Proven techniques to build REAL connections