Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dancing in the Kitchen: A Review and Giveaway

I recently received a complimentary copy of the children’s music CD, Dancing in the Kitchen: Songs that Celebrate the Joy of Food, from its producer, Melanie Potock of My Munch Bug. My ten-year-old was in the room with me while I was listening to it for the first time, and she loved it. Since then, she’s sought it out purposefully, and put it on to dance. I don’t think 10-year-olds are the target audience for this CD, but my daughter loves music and dancing, and she found the songs on this CD to be fun.

I agree with my daughter that the songs on Dancing in the Kitchen are a lot of fun. New music on this CD are written and performed by Joan Huntsberry Langford. She has a pleasant voice and the songs are very catchy. The music does a great job of bringing to life the CD’s subtitle: celebrating the joy of food. The CD includes a range of musical styles from spirited songs that make you (or at least my daughter) get up and dance, slower lullaby-like songs, and even a silly operetta.

When my kids were younger, we used to listen to children’s music frequently – in the car, in the house, at toddler gym classes, etc. While personally, I’m happy to be beyond that stage in my life, I can definitely see that Dancing in the Kitchen would have made its way into our musical rotation if we had owned it back then. The songs will stay in your head and likely be requested over and over by your kids. My daughter’s favorite songs were “Happy Eating Food” and “Dancing in the Kitchen.” I was partial to “Picnic Under the Jewelberry Tree.”

I especially like the joyful and upbeat attitude that this music brings to food and eating. Just like watching a potty training DVD won’t result in your child becoming toilet trained, listening to this CD will not transform your picky eater or result in your kids loving all foods. It does, however, help create a positive environment about food and it provides a way to communicate with your kids about eating that is likely to be happier and friendlier in tone than typical parent-child food battles. The song lyrics also cover a variety of sensory experiences around food, including the sounds associated with cooking and eating, which can often be overlooked in conversations about kids’ eating.

I would highly recommend Dancing in the Kitchen to parents who want to add a little musical fun to their family life around food. At this time of year, I think it makes a perfect stocking stuffer. You can preview some samples of the songs here.

I am also thrilled to announce that the producer of Dancing in the Kitchen, Melanie Potock will be my guest on the next Kitchen Table Parents teleseminar. Melanie is a certified speech language pathologist who works with treating children with feeding difficulties and educating parents about creating more joyful mealtime experiences. Join me and Melanie on Tuesday December 6, 2011 at 12 noon Eastern for the call-in event, Happy Mealtimes with Happy Kids for the Holidays and Beyond.

We will be discussing how to celebrate each step towards adventurous eating, how to handle the pressures of holiday mealtimes, how to understand the impact of sensory issues on feeding experiences, and much more. To learn more and to sign up for this free event, click here

If you can’t join us live, please leave your questions or comments below.

Melanie has graciously offered to give away one free copy of Dancing in the Kitchen.  To enter, simply leave a comment or question below. You must be 18 years or older and a U.S. resident to enter. One winner will be selected by random number from random.org from all entrants on December 6, 2011 at 10pm Eastern.

I received a free copy of this CD to review. No other compensation was offered or received and the views expressed are my own.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What To Keep Doing After You've Said "I Do!"

Why discuss marriage on a blog about raising healthy families? Well, in my opinion, the relationship between a child's parents, married or not, is a key component in raising happy, well-adjusted kids. Tomorrow at noon Eastern time I will be joined by Dr. Ann Park for the Kitchen Table Parents teleseminar, What To Keep Doing After You've Said "I Do!". We will be discussing how to grow a healthy marriage as well as some myths that can undermine marriage. This event is free for all Kitchen Table Parents members. For more information and to sign up, please click here. Can't join us live? Please leave any questions or comments below and we'll address them tomorrow. The call will be recorded.

As a preview of some of the information that Dr. Ann will share us tomorrow, she has offered these words of wisdom on conflict in relationships.

The Keys to Conflict

When we would go on vacation, early in our marriage, one of the things my husband and I could always look forward to was a brisk, invigorating round of conflict.  Our motto seemed to be: “A vacation is a great time to get into an argument!”

What was happening?
We were stepping into a classic pattern of behavior that’s all too easy to start ... and keep going.
We were putting off our troubles until a little later.  Somehow, “a little later” ended up being during our vacations.  
Now I confess that this was partly my doing.  My difficulty was all the unstructured time that came along with our vacations. Free time meant free associations - I'm a psychiatrist, after all!  And suddenly, all (his) crimes and misdemeanors of the preceding few months would stand up and declare that they were ready for their pre-trial hearing.
Needless to say, this was not great for our vacation time.  I learned the hard way that I needed to find a better way.
Does this ever happen to you?  Have you ever found that the short-term gain of putting off problems leads to a long-term price that is harder to pay?
If so, you’re not alone.  Many of us find that it’s unpleasant (at best) or excruciating (at worst) to rock the boat.  But I think we need to be motivated by this fact:  there are no short cuts.  We either pay up now, or we pay later, for emotional accounts that are due.  Our hearts have a hard time suppressing our emotions.  Feelings don’t get stored up. They ooze out. Usually at the times we would prefer not to ooze. Like on vacation!
In my opinion, Freud said a lot of crazy things but he was also brilliant.  He observed that it was impossible for us to stay truly silent. Our eyes, our hands, and our actions give us away. Our true feelings emerge from every pore.
So what can we do to deal with our feelings, with conflict, in a healthy way within our marriages?
1.              Be prepared.  We can acknowledge ahead of time that it is natural for conflict to arise in marriage.  And it will arise repeatedly throughout the course of our marriages. This is the inevitable fact when two imperfect people come together. 
2.              Be proactive.  In a nutshell, don’t wait until vacation rolls around. And don’t wait until you’re ready to blow up like a can of coke that’s been given a good shake.  Think the situation through ahead of time. Identify what’s bothering you.  Write it out, if that helps.  Gather your thoughts so that when you speak to your spouse, it’s thoughtful .
3.              Be personable.  Do you want to speak to someone who is becoming unhinged before your very eyes?  Neither does your spouse!  Pick a time and a setting to have a discussion that increases the odds of a great outcome for both of you. Choose a relaxed time, with little outside interruption. Put it on your calendars, so you are both ready.  Agree on a defined time to wrap it up. End on a positive note that reinforces your couplehood: go for a walk or bike ride, get dinner together.  Repeat as needed.
And save your vacations for relaxing!
Take home:  Dealing with conflict is a necessary skill in marriage, and you can get great at it.
Optional journaling exercise:  Pick an area that you’d like to discuss with your spouse. Using the three points above, write down three steps you will take this week to begin a healthy discussion with your beloved other.