What’s For Dinner?

The proof of the pudding is the eating.  ~Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra


Kyle & his cousin Cheyenne Piper at Bethel Lutheran Church. 2005

Ever since Kyle was a little tyke, he’s been very structured, eventually including his eating habits.  Truly.  It could be ten o’clock at night and he’d sit back in retrospect asking, “What was for dinner?”  Usually I ask, “Are you hungry?”  With Kyle’s response of, “No, but I wanted to know what was for dinner?”  Seriously?  Oh, yes!  Like he’s taking a tally or checking of his daily list.  He’ll even reiterate what he ate and what category it was considered, either breakfast, dinner, supper, or snack.  Kyle can’t simply eat when he’s hungry and leave it at that, he has to place it in a mental check box.

On a side note, in our household, we call “lunch”, dinner.  So what do we call dinner or the last meal of the day?  Supper.  Yes, dinner is our midday meal, or commonly called lunch, and supper is our later day meal, or sometimes called dinner.

Anyway, when conversing with Kyle over his meals for the day, a big WARNING needs to accompany this discussion.  If you try and assist Kyle recollect his food consumption for that particular day, and you categorize a food item as part of the wrong meal, or worse, call out an item eaten from the previous day, he’ll call you out on it and make a big deal about his supposedly missed meal, even when he’s not hungry.

Example time.  Now I can’t exactly recall a specific conversation between us, but they basically go like this:


Me making cupcakes in my apartment in Pittsburgh (Beechview on Broadway Street) 1995

Stage:  (It’s 10:00 pm on a Saturday night and Kyle is laying on the couch watching television, winding down before bed.)
Kyle:  Aunt Heather what was for dinner?
Me:  (Not thinking to hard on the question)  I don’t know, are you hungry?
Kyle:  No, I just wanted to know what we had for dinner.
Me:  I don’t know, steak and eggs.
Kyle:  No that was breakfast.
Me:  Oh, we had grilled chicken and potatoes.
Kyle:  No, that was for supper.
Me: (Getting frustrated over a pointless conversation.)  I don’t know!  Are you hungry?
Kyle:  No, I just wanted to know.
Me:  If you’re not hungry does it matter?
Kyle:  No
Me:  (LIGHT BULB!)  Oh, we had sandwiches!  (Now feeling pleased with myself for finally remembering.)
Kyle:  Oh, yeah that’s right!
Me:  Now do you want me to review all your snacks including the quart of chocolate milk you drank in one gulp?  (Sarcasm and silliness, for I truly don’t care what Kyle eats or how much, as long as the majority of his consumption is healthy, and in moderation for the not-so-nutritious food items.  Please note, the remark about the chocolate milk was not an exaggeration.  He really does fill up a quart jar with milk and chocolate syrup, and gulp it down instantly.  I guess he’s a growing boy.)
Kyle:  (snickering) No.  But what was for dessert?
Me:  I saw you eating Oreos earlier.
Kyle:  Yeah, but that wasn’t dessert for supper.
Me:  You don’t have to have a dessert for every meal.  Desserts are only for special occasions, or as a rare treat, not for everyday.
Kyle:  Why not?  I like desserts!
Me:  I do too buddy, but it’s not good to have all that sugar and fat.
Kyle:  I like sugar.
Me:  I know!  Same as your dad!
Kyle:  (Snicker, before he heads off to bed, satisfied that his checklist is completed.)


In the back row: Dad, Uncle Sonny & Jeremy. Uncle Denny’s back is on the left & Nicole on the right. Christmas Party 1992

Perhaps this strange and sporadic phenomenon is partially my fault.  When Kyle was little, I became aware that when he wasn’t with my family, he’d miss meals or the sustenance eaten was less than par, not healthy in the slightest.  So I began to teach Kyle to eat at least three meals a day, and snack healthy in between.  That’s about the time I taught him about nutrition.  I especially stressed the importance of breakfast, which was completely omitted from his diet before school.  Or worse, he’d eat his jelly sandwich and crackers on the bus headed to school because he was hungry, and then have to go without for the entire day.  It broke my heart to think of Kyle sitting in the cafeteria with his friends, watching them eat their lunches, while he was hungry.  I’m not saying a jelly sandwich (at the time he hated peanut butter, so that was his PB&J minus the P) is the most nutritious for breakfast, but it’s something.

Naturally, there’s always an excuse, but with a five, six, seven, eight, nine and even a ten year old, there doesn’t need to be an excuse, simply doing what’s right for his well-being.  This is paramount during a child’s developmental stages.  Plus, it’s good habit forming.  Granted, to counter act this, over the years, I began my mission to teach Kyle to make himself some simple and quick dishes to equip him to fend for himself.  Like what?  Oatmeal in the microwave  or eggs. (Yes, Kyle has always known how to make eggs and to properly and safely use the stove and oven since he was probably two or so.)  Grabbing a banana or apple isn’t too taxing and is an acceptable breakfast or snack, both of which Kyle loves.  Even toast would be better than nothing.

On another side note, I also gave Kyle money to buy a hot lunch, not saying the cafeteria meals were any healthier, but at least it was food for his empty stomach and a warm meal.

Well, enough heavy.  Kyle is now a healthy teenager, one who still confirms his three meals of the day.  Maybe something really did sink in when I was teaching him about healthy eating habits.  I hope so.  I only want Kyle to have every opportunity in life, and that includes eating healthy and staying that way for a long time.

posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Cooking with Kyle,Education & Learning,Family,Farming & Planting,Hunting & Fishing,News,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing and have No Comments

Healthy Smoothie Sunday

Much education today is monumentally ineffective. All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants.  ~ John W. Gardner


Kyle & friends made pizzas for his 8th birthday at with Chef Dato

Taking the opportunity to make something healthy is an art in and of itself, especially something liked by a ten year old.  Kyle has been sick for the last few weeks.  He’s been battling this ear infection for nearly a month, being on his second dose of antibiotics.  Along with the ear infection, Kyle seemed to picked up the flu.  This past Saturday night, Kyle crawled in bed with me and to my surprise, I woke up in the middle of the night feeling like I just entered Dante’s Inferno.  Kyle really had a fever!  His body ached and he was miserable, to the point that around 3:00 am he wanted to get up and go to lay on the couch.  As I rolled out of bed, half awake, we made our way out to the living-room and plopped ourselves down in front of the TV to catch a little Phineas and Ferb.

By Saturday Kyle was feeling a little better, but not quite right.  Since Kyle has been on antibiotics for so long, I wanted to get a little yogurt action into his system.  Naturally, (pardon the pun) I don’t like him to eat the yogurt with high fructose corn syrup, aspartame and such in it.  I usually buy all natural yogurt only containing cultured grade A milk.  Bland?  Yes, but if you mix it properly with other ingredients it’s a great nutritious snack.  So I told Kyle we would make yogurt smoothies.  I figured it was a different treat, which would sooth his sore throat and accomplish my original intent, to get yogurt into his system.


Kyle fishing with his pappy on his birthday. 7/30/05

We made our Tropical Fruit Yogurt Smoothies.  Basically about a half a cup of plain yogurt, a cut or so of crushed ice, and tropical fruit in 100% natural juices.  Blend and serve.  It’s not an overly sweet treat, so Kyle decided to doctor it up a bit by adding a little honey.  Through Little Acts of Kindness I have talked about Kyle’s love for honey.  He drank the Yogurt Smoothie since I asked him to, and he knew the yogurt was good for him, but he wasn’t a huge fan.  He never said anything, well that is until dad opened his mouth and said, “Next time make mine without the yogurt.  I don’t like it.”  Agg, dad sometimes should not be allowed to have an opinion or speak!


Kyle hanging in the backyard. On the weekends, during summer we cook on the bonfire- steaks, pork loins, corn on the cob & mountain pies! 6/11/05

Well now, Kyle, who really does like to cook and experiment in the kitchen, which I completely encourage decided he wanted to continue making different types of smoothies.  On Sunday right after church, Kyle said he wanted to make a smoothie without yogurt.  Thanks dad!  Kyle said, “I’m going to make a healthy fruit smoothie, Aunt Heather!”  How could I object, plus it seemed like Kyle was starting to feel better.  He asked me what he should put in it and I responded by telling him to start experimenting and thinking of what would go good together.  Next thing I knew, he was adding blueberries, which are one of his favorite foods, a banana, tropical fruit, and yes the honey made its appearance.  I did suggest to him to add a little milk just to loosen everything up.  He really had a lot of fun adding the fruit then test tasting his concoction.  He made sure he made enough for everyone and he served us all our own smoothie.  It was really tasty!

Apparently, Kyle must have been really feeling better and really enjoying his smoothie Sunday, because later in the day, Kyle mentioned he wanted to try another type of smoothie.  He asked me, “Aunt Heather can you make a smoothie out of apples?”  I told him it might taste good if he cooked down the apples and added cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, lemon juice and maybe a little sugar.  Next thing I know, Kyle was peeling the apples and preparing to cook them down.  This smoothie contained cooked down apples, spices, milk, ice, and the honey made its appearance again.  It was really pretty good! It would be a great fall smoothie made with apple cider, but regardless, very tasty.  And keeping with Kyle’s style made enough for all of us.  Now it looks like my plan to get natural yogurt into Kyle was pushed aside, but he was feeling better and really enjoying himself, all while learning.

It’s amazing how an introduction to making something new can turn into a passion and peek a child’s interest.  So what is your smoothie?

See other cooking episodes Egg Sandwich Spectacular, Cooking With Kyle – Kitchen Safety, Cooking With Kyle – Introduction, Puppy Problem Called Seven!

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Common Sense,Cooking with Kyle,Education & Learning,Family,Observation & Imagination and have No Comments

Listening to a child’s thoughts.

Imagination is more important than knowledge.  For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.  ~Albert Einstein

Kyle Piper playing with his legos

While playing legos, Kyle creates different worlds and characters.

Sometimes after swimming I’ll take Kyle to Sheetz to get an MTO (Made-To-Order).  This past week, I needed to fuel up the car so we stopped to get a quick sandwich.  When we were waiting inside for our order, Kyle and I just so happen to be standing right in front of the doughnut display.  Now I don’t think there’s any treat that Kyle’s likes more than a doughnut!  When he realized what stood behind him, I knew our mission was compromised.  He gave me one of those innocent, question type of sideways smile.  His eyes said, “Can I have a doughnut?”  Almost as quick as his eyes questioned me, my eyes and smile simply said, “No.”  I gave him a big hug and said, “We don’t need doughnuts.”  He said, “Yes but I love them so much!”  I told him I agreed, but we didn’t need the extra fat, especially this late in the evening.

I expected a little bit of an argument or convincing from Kyle, and I was ready to hold my ground, but neither happened.  In fact, what he did next totally cracked me up!  He stood there and admired the doughnuts.  He then told me about each one. He described what he thought each would taste like and which one would be the best.  He read each doughnut’s name out loud and criticized the name and the look of the doughnut.

Kyle Piper leaving the Lego store in New York City

Kyle's Aunt Nikki took him to the Lego store in NYC. You can just hear him dreaming up different battles.

He then reached for the door handle and slightly opened the glass door of the doughnut display, closed his eyes, and took a big whiff of the doughnut aroma.  He said, “Umm Aunt Heather, they smell so good. What if I would just take a nibble out of each one?”  I laughed and said, “Then it would look like a mouse was running around loose in there.”  Kyle said, “Ya, then no one would suspect me of eating a piece of each doughnut.”  Then he went into a whole story about him being a mouse.  He told me which doughnut would be eaten first.  He was so engrossed in his story, including sound effects, that he didn’t notice people passing by and watching him.  I know he made their day just because of the amount of smiles being exchanged.  I think he was meaning to talk to me, but he really was lost in his own thought, humoring himself.

Kyle Pipers Bakugon line-up

Kyle's Bakugon figures all lined-up... ready for battle!

When did we, as adults, lose that imagination? I am happy to say that, while I don’t use it all the time, it does make it’s way to the forefront of my mind and get loose from my lips.

posted by auntheather in Education & Learning,Observation & Imagination,Patience and have No Comments
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