Wednesday, October 23, 2013

kids, moving internationally, and eating

Nate used to be a really good eater. Once he started eating table food, he really couldn't get enough. Around 18 months old, he started getting picky. He would refuse to eat his favorite foods, spend entire days eating nothing but pickles and cheese, and could not be convinced to try new foods. If I considered the food he ate for an entire week, rather than just each day's menu, he still had a fairly well balanced diet. We chose not to have the mealtime battle of wills.

He was still in this picky phase when we moved to the other side of the world. Though we have a lot of the same foods here in Kenya, everything is slightly different. I expect an adult would enjoy the differences in ingredients and cooking in Kenya, but it was a lot for a 2-year old to deal with. He stopped eating almost everything. He also stopped gaining weight. We became rather lenient with Nate and eating, just to get some food into him. He would refuse to eat all day, then wake up crying with hunger pains at midnight.

Nate's weight chart. We moved 6 weeks after his 2nd birthday, just before the "2" dot.

Around 2 1/2 years old, he started eating meat, and he also started gaining weight again. He maintained a vegetable strike for several more months, though I could get him to eat peas about once a week. After Nate turned 3 he became a bit easier to reason with, and we instituted a vegetable requirement at supper. I could get him to eat either peas or green beans every day.

I think his food issues come down to 2 things: control and fear. I used to think it was only about control. We let him save the vegetables for last if that's what he wanted to do, but he also knew that he could get seconds of his favorite dish as soon as he finished the veggies. We tried to give him as much control over it as possible, without letting him skip eating vegetables altogether.

Once he was used to this vegetable requirement, I decided to try requiring him to eat a bite of everything served so that he could branch out, and we wouldn't have to have peas or green beans at every single meal. It started with 1 carrot stick - he liked everything else on the table that night. He fussed and complained and tried to refuse to eat it, but once I actually got the carrot stick into his mouth, he grabbed it out of his mouth, held it in his hand, and calmly took bites of it. The next night, the same thing happened with the carrot, but he almost made himself sick when I made him eat a bite of potatoes, too. We talked about it and determined that food he isn't used to eating is scary. Ok. I was a picky eater as a kid, and I can relate to that actually.

So what do we do about it? I decided to work on 1 new food at a time with him. Since we'd already started on carrots, we kept that up until he would eat a serving of carrots without being afraid. Then we moved on to zucchini. It seemed worse at first, but we progressed through it much more quickly. I think we'll give zucchini a little more time to settle in, then we're going to start on broccoli.

He was so proud of his bravery in eating an entire zucchini spear last night. I'm proud, too!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

on chocolate away from home

Life overseas is different in many ways. Ice cream is one. Here, there's far too much ice and not enough cream. Bakery cakes are another. I have no idea how Kenyan bakeries make their cakes to be so horrible. Chocolate is different, too.

Kenya has a few varieties familiar to a girl from Texas. There are Snickers, Kit Kats, Twix, and Peanut M&Ms. There are Mars bars, which are similar to Milky Ways in the US (but if you see a Milky Way outside the US, it's a Three Musketeers; if you see a Mars bar in the US it's something else entirely). The rest is either Cadbury's or Beacon.

I am a dark chocolate kind of girl. I prefer dark, semi-sweet, or bittersweet chocolate over milk chocolate. I can, however, make room in my world for milk chocolate, especially when dark chocolate is hard to find. The rack of Cadbury's chocolate bars usually has 10 or more varieties of Dairy Milk with something added to it (nuts, mint, crunchies, whatever). Beacon is the same. I have only tried 1 variety of Beacon, which is their supposed dark chocolate bar. It tasted like milk chocolate with extra sugar. I don't think I could handle their milk chocolate.

I know some of you love Cadbury's Dairy Milk, and I mean no offense to you personally, but Dairy Milk is an abomination. It's barely even chocolaty. It's like sugar and milk with chocolate coloring.

If something is supposed to be chocolate, why not make it chocolaty? Speaking of which, I do not understand the existence of white chocolate. It's not that it tastes bad, but it's chocolate, without the chocolaty part. What's the point of that? Like blonde brownies. Brownies without cocoa? Why make blondies when you can make brownies?

But getting back to the topic, Cadbury's has saving grace, in 2 products (which is more than I can say for Beacon). First, the Creme Egg, which obviously is in a class of its own (though I strongly believe it would be greatly improved if done in dark chocolate). Second is Bournville, which is a dark chocolate bar we sometimes find here that is actually quite good.

Lately, our Tuskys has had these in stock constantly, but they didn't always. When I first discovered it, we found them so rarely (once a month or so) that Rodgers would buy me one any time he saw them. By now, even Nate and Ben know which chocolate bar to choose for me. I don't think they even realize that the purple Dairy Milk packages contain chocolate, too. And that's as it should be.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

I'm going to talk about water again

Again. Because it's soooooo annoying. Before Ben's birthday, we had 3 straight weeks of water running almost every day. It was awesome! Our water storage doesn't go into my kitchen, so to have running water in the kitchen, we have to actually have running water.

It's been 4 weeks since Ben's birthday, and we've had water one day. And only part of a day at that. Our stored water lasted a couple of weeks.

We talked to someone who works for the water company, and they told us, off the record, that the water company had not paid their electric bill and had been cut off by the power company.

About the time our storage was running dry, people who live in other parts of town started having water running again. Apparently they got things worked out with the power company. But we still didn't have water. For the past 2 weeks, we've been filling jugs at friends' houses and bringing water into our house that way. We got additional 100L and 210L barrels so that we could refill the jugs before they were used up (or we'd have to work out a way to climb up the 1000L barrel and dump the jugs in there).

The water company is not bothered that our water isn't running. We've talked to so many people - plumbers and such - about checking to see what the problem is, since the water company doesn't really care. However, the water company is so unreliable, everyone assumes there isn't actually a problem.

Today Rodgers talked to the real estate agent who is in charge of our lease and the owner of the house, basically telling them that we can't continue living here if the water isn't running. The agent knows we are planning to move anyway, but if he keeps us happy, we just may lease through him again. And he knows we pay our rent in full and on time. So he's motivated.

The owner told us that our water line only serves 3 houses. Maybe that's why the water company isn't motivated to restore our water. Regardless, he said he would personally dig up the line tomorrow to see if he can find the problem.