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The New Currency of the Kingdom

While it may be true that you can't buy love, kids make a convincing
case that you can buy an insanely flattering facsimile: let's call it
buying brief bouts of obsequious adoration.

Or at least contented quiet.

Yes, finger foods are the new currency in this family, guaranteed to
capture her attention and turn her from beast to beauty.

Maddie's been going strong on finger foods for a couple weeks and it's
her new favorite hobby. Every meal I offer her must have the balanced
nutritional palate I've always done, but include enough finger foods to
satisfy her new independent streak. She'll oftentimes get only a few
bites into her bowls of fruit or veggies or meat before she starts
turning impatiently from side to side, gesturing imperiously at her tray
as if to say, "Woman! Why is my tray empty when my belly is full? Get
that spoon out of my face and bring me some CHEERIOS!"

Because if finger foods are the new coinage of this household, then
Cheerios are the gold dollar piece. I don't get the Cheerio thing; sure
they're a decent breakfast food, but this unrelenting devotion to
Cheerios by kids everywhere is frankly baffling to me. I always thought
somewhere in that smug spot all new-parents-to-be have, that I'd never
let my kids get hooked on Cheerios; it'd be nutritious snacks or nothing.

Yeah, I can hear you laughing. 

We started her on them as an easy and quick-dissolve finger food (see previous
), reasoning that we didn't have to keep giving them to
her once she got the hang of the eating thing. But we kept going,
because frankly she looked so cute pushing the little "O" into her mouth
with her careful pointer finger.

And now we can't stop.

She's definitely expanded her finger food repertoire; she really grooves
on the shredded mozzarella cheese, and teeny tiny diced bits of apple,
plum, mango, whatever, are usually eaten. I've found a great dried
fruit company
that freeze-dries fruit and veggies with
nothing else - no sulphur, oils, sugar, etc. The texture's closer to
dried cereal than cut-up fruit, but as we've seen from the Cheerios
that's not a bad thing. So Maddie eats the dried mango, dried peas, and
dried blueberries. Dried blueberries, by the way, are way easier to
clean up than fresh ones.

And I've been looking for opportunities to transition from special meals
for baby to whatever-adults-are-eating dinners. Last Friday I made
manicotti and realized that, with the exception of the tomato sauce,
Maddie had eaten all of the individual ingredients! I excitedly scraped
off the tomato sauce (too much acid), tore up the noodle into tiny
pieces, and crumbled the filling of ricotta cheese, hamburger, and
spinach onto her tray. The results?

Ecstasy. Except for a side of pureed prunes, Maddie fed herself her
whole meal and she loved it. About halfway through she began leaning to
one side, lounging as if taking a break. As I made a move towards her
tray, she snapped up, giving me a distinct "Hands off!" look. She loves
the independence, I think, the modicum of control over her immediate

So every meal now has a large portion of finger foods included, though I
have to offer them second or she'll never eat anything else. Just
tonight I had her bowls of carrots and beef, prunes, and broccoli neatly
lined up for her dinner. We started in on the carrots and beef and got
no further than two bites before she dissolved in wails. Nothing in
front of her tempted her until, frantic, I grabbed the tub of ricotta
cheese out of the fridge and put a blob in front of her. As soon as she
could feed herself, she calmed down and settled in to eat. I ran back to
the fridge for more finger foods and ended up slipping the beef, prunes
and broccoli spoonfuls in between her handfuls of cheese and avocado.
Twenty minutes later, I was exhausted, but Maddie was full and contented.

The trick with this, though, is to save a little something for the end.
If you wait until baby's completely full to get up and walk away, say
into the kitchen for cleanup or to eat your own dinner, you're dead.
It's a common rookie mistake. You have to have that little bit saved,
that dessert so to speak, to cover your transition (read - Mommyless)

And for dessert? What else. The gold dollar coin.

I need to go by the bank -er- grocery store tomorrow, though. We're
almost out of Cheerios.


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