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Ask Kate

February 28, 2012

1. Q: Do you have any advice for a parent who has trouble with their child not eating their school lunches (cafeteria or packed).  My niece has trouble eating her school lunches and then gets in trouble for it – any advice?

A: Hi Jenna – This is what works for me: I always pack a frozen cooler pack in each lunch box so that my kids lunch is still cold when they return home from school! If any of my kids come home with food remaining, I put it at their place at the table and when they complain that dinner isn’t ready yet and “I’m starving,” I offer them their leftover lunch items as a snack to hold them over.

I figure as long as the calories are all consumed in the day and the food isn’t wasted, we all win! :) I struggled for a long time with that too because my kids sometimes get carried away talking to friends at lunch and “forget” to eat! Hope it helps!

2. Q: I am writing you from Serbia where your show is more than popular and TLC has been emitting it twice a day :)
Since I am FASCINATED by your everyday life organization, such as who is cleaning when, cell phone rules etc, I was wondering, if you have writen any book on this matter and if yes what’s it called….
I am planning a family of my own and you and your kids are my inspiration!

A: Hi Elena – I am mentally planning my next book which will be the third book (fourth in total) following “Multiple Blessings” and “I Just Want You to Know.” The focus of my next book will be the things I’ve learned when life took another unexpected turn and I found myself divorced and functioning as a single parent of  8 kids! I hope to get it written soon!
I also have plans to release my better than ever cook book and am currently working on a surprise writing project that excites me a lot! I’ll hurry….:)

3. Q: What limits on TV have you set for your children and which shows do they watch regularly?

A: Hi Tara- We honestly don’t watch a lot of tv. My kids are happiest when they are playing outside or doing skits and playing dress up in the basement. But, if we do watch tv, I allow the Disney channel, PBS or Nickelodeon. I don’t assume all of the above channels are “kid friendly” though so I either watch it with them when I can or keep my ears open to hear the content. Kid shows and channels are a lot different from when I was a kid and watched “The Electric Company,” “Romper Room,” and the TGIF line up on Friday nights,  that’s for sure!

4. Q:  When did you decide you weren’t going to be a short order cook? I have a picky 2 yr old and it’s been a challenge, but I feel like she’s still too young to be sent to bed without dinner. And she will not even look at vegetables anymore.

A: Hi! I have always believed in exposing my kids to healthy eating  from the very beginning! I can remember contentedly choosing Mady and Cara’s baby foods to make sure it all made a complete and healthy meal! From there, I fed them every fruit and vegetable I could think of, whether I enjoyed that type or not– fortunately I’m hard pressed to find any of either  I don’t like! If they refused, I fed it to them again and again until they decided it wasn’t so bad. I carried that policy on and even today, if I make a meal that no one is in total love with, I will wait and make it again in a few months! Surprisingly, the reaction is usually different the second time, for some unknown reason! I make one meal each day for dinner and allow only minor alterations to suit each palate – for example with or without cheese etc. But each plate will contain “some of everything” and all meat and veges must be tried, at least. Completing the carb food group  is always optional – mashed potatoes, fries, rice etc.

If I were you, I would continue to put green vegetables on your two year old’s plate and encourage her to try them! An airplane spoon DOES make it more fun and huge praise goes a long way too! I’ve done it! :) In our house, healthy eating has always been a good experience and it warms my heart to watch my kids enjoy my cooking! Hope you get there! Good luck!

5. Q: My husband and I just recently separated. And I just wanted some advice on how to help my three children deal with all of this. It’s been hard on them and my oldest one chooses not to see his father. Thank You for your advice.

A: Hi Bethany – I know where you are, because I have been there. When my kids struggled during the initial two years or so when their lives were turned upside down by divorce, I spent many nights laying next to them in bed, comforting them while we worked through the pain. I think that the best thing that I did was choose to only say positive things out loud despite the turmoil that was going on behind the scenes. It allowed my kids to continue to love their dad and remember him in a positive light.

We had many many happy memories together as a “whole” family and I think that is what carried them through that difficult time! I willingly walked down memory lane with them and enjoyed remembering those “good old days!” It was still hard many nights when I heard a lonely little voice from upstairs say “I miss daddy” especially when I knew there was no immediate way to help them. We wrote many notes and made many phone calls which helped a little, but it never seemed to fix the real problem! I knew I could be the most stable supportive mom on the planet, but there was no way I could be their dad! It is SO hard when you come to that realization! The helplessness is heartbreaking!

During this time, I made it painfully obvious to my kids that although work took me away sometimes, I would ALWAYS come back. In fact, that was our motto whenever I had to go! We said it together to reassure them again! I planted myself more firmly then ever as their stability and in doing that I’m sure that I became an even more dedicated mother than I had been previously, nearly overnight! They relearned to trust by this over exaggeration that I displayed! I also reminded them often that this was a “big people problem” and none of it was their fault and that together or separate we both still loved them just as much!

I don’t know your exact situation, but what I do know about mine is that eventually, the “new normal” falls into place and my kids are absolutely thriving today! I see my same happy go lucky kids that I once knew and the amazing report cards from school confirm the same! Although it was really tense and the animosity was high between Jon and myself at the beginning, over time, he has seemed to recalculate his priorities and the outcome has been very positive overall! For this I am very thankful because he is the only one that can fill my kids “dad spot” and his role in their lives is just as vital as mine!
I have certainly found happiness over the last three years in my life and I’m hoping he has too. Happy parents – whether divorced or married – always results in happy kids!

So, here’s hoping in time, you and your kids can get there too! My best of luck to you! Hang in there! Hugs to you and your kids!

6. Q: When are you going to bring out a cook book?

A: Hi Hayley – I hope REALLY soon! I’m reconfiguring it, adding more unique “Kate recipes” and I hope to get it into your hands (and the thousands of others who have been asking for it for the past 7 years!) very soon!

7. Q: Did you buy your kitchen table or have it custom made? It is such a pretty color. Also, did the chairs come with it or were they a separate purchase?

A: Hi Sara – I live in good old Pennsylvania where we are surrounded by the very talented and reasonably priced Amish and Mennonite community who make amazing furniture! Back in 2006, when we moved to Elizabethtown, Pa, I contacted Spring Mill Woodworking (near world famous Shady Maple Smorgasboard) and gave them the measurements of our “dining area.” In that house, in order to fit 10 people at any table, the table extended out into the hallway! I chose the width, length, stain color, and rounded corners (I had six 2 year olds who were table height at the time!) and they made it for me! I also ordered 5 chairs for it (custom stained; not built) because we didn’t have the money to buy or the space to fit another 5 chairs at the time. Besides, the littles were still in need of high chairs then! I made sure the chairs were a “stocked” item so that I could order five more in the future!

Just a few months ago, I called them and ordered an additional five chairs …..and we passed our wooden high chairs/ booster chairs to another group of six who can use them! :) It was time! We’re all grown up now! :) Now we enjoy dinner together as a big family – all seated in “big people” chairs! Ahh life is good!

8. Q: What’s life been like not having the show? And do you ever miss having the crew around?

A: Hi Stephanie – Life has gone on the exact same as you remember it, but with lots of “growing up” changes! There’s less traveling and adventuring but we still do fun stuff, you just don’t get to see it! I hope to be able to do some updates for tv in the future so that you all can see how grown up we are… And how the chaos of life hasn’t decreased, it’s just a different dynamic! We do miss our crew and all of the fun we had! Only time will tell if we will have the honor of inviting you all back into our home….

9. Q: I was wondering, do you still have the BBB?

A: Hello twitter friend, Tweety! I don’t usually use twitter questions for my website Q&A, but I thought I’d answer you here! Yes, I still have A BBB… But it’s now a new Big BLACK Bus! I gave the Big BLUE Bus to Jon for the kids and I bought the updated version for them!  So glad it’s black so it can still be the BBB… Oh, priorities, you know! :)


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