063: How to Approach Feeding Our Kids – and Ourselves; A Conversation with Mom and Cookbook Author Rachel Roddy

RachelRoddy_July2015_ElenaHeatherwick-12Continuing in our month-long series about feeding kids, today I have the privilege of talking with award-winning author and blogger Rachel Roddy.

Before visiting Italy a decade ago, Rachel enjoyed a great career as an actress. At 32, however, she found herself in Sicily – with no desire whatsoever to go home to England. Rachel wandered around Sicily and then Rome, learning the language, loving the culture, and recognizing that her approach to food and eating needed to change.

She’d never thought of herself as a writer, but before long Rachel had started the blog Racheleats.wordpress.com. She’d also rented an apartment in a quirky, fascinating neighborhood in Rome, fallen in love and had a child; choosing, in effect, a tranquil, homey life in which food plays a nourishing and delightful part rather than the life she left behind of an actress “with many eating disorders.”

Along with her partner, Vincenzo, and her son’s father, Rachel is raising 4 1/2-year-old Luca; our conversation ranges over what it’s like to raise a child in a culture that is not your own, food and the young child, and also about Rachel’s own childhood and the part food has always played in her own life.

Click here to read the full notes on this podcast episode at weturnedoutokay.com/063!

Rachel’s beloved Roman neighborhood is often called the Fifth Quarter, and when her first cookbook came out in 2015 in England, Rachel gave it that name; just last month – February 2016 – this cookbook arrived in the States, now with the name My Kitchen in Rome: Recipes and Notes on Italian Cooking. It took me about three seconds while checking it out on Amazon to decide that I needed this book! I promise you, I have never looked back; it’s a great resource for someone like me, part Italian and raised with both the culture and food.

Rachel has led such an interesting life, and over the course of it has given a lot of thought to food. She shares:

  • why every time we put a home-cooked meal on the table we instigate a “quiet riot”

thoughts on how, even in a place like Italy where people pride themselves on the quality of their food, corporate greed is having an influence

  • great advice for parents who are struggling to get healthy food on the dinner table: learn about where your food comes from

Having started life in London, England, Rachel has a delightful British accent. I know that is just one of the many things you’ll love in listening to this episode!

Key Links:

Connect with Rachel at her blog, racheleats.wordpress.com, and by reading her weekly column, Kitchen Sink Tales, in the great British newspaper The Guardian.

My Kitchen in Rome, the American addition of Rachel’s cookbook, is available in Amazon; click here to check it out (I bet that, like me, you will not be able to resist purchasing it 🙂

Friend-of-the-podcast Jeannie Marshall, author of The Lost Art of Feeding Kids, initially connected me with Rachel; listen to our conversation from We Turned Out Okay episode 60 here, and here is a link to her amazing book in Amazon.

Rachel brings up a favorite book of hers, What to Eat by Hattie Ellis, as part of her advice about getting healthy food on the dinner table and into our young kids; check that book out here.

062: How to Stop the Weeknight Chaos with Single Mom, Blogger, and Podcaster Brandie Weikle

conscious-uncoupling-before-it-was-cool-why-i-started-the-1000-families-project_1000Today I talk work/family balance – and how to keep a divorce amicable – with Brandie Weikle, host of The New Family podcast.

Brandie, who before jumping into her 1000 Families Project blog and The New Family was the editor of Canadian Family magazine and the relationships editor for the great Canadian newspaper, the Toronto Star, experienced firsthand the pain of being a kid whose parents are divorcing un-amicably. She and her former husband – who also experienced that pain growing up – worked really hard to stay true partners when they decided to divorce; to that end they now live right next door to each other in the city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

During our conversation – an “extra” guest interview that I felt needed to be included in the all-about-food month of March, because Brandie gives such great tips about getting dinner on the table amidst the weeknight chaos – Brandie shares what it was like to go through that process of divorcing amicably, making the transition from working woman to working mom, and a few of the ways she keeps her family’s weeknights from spinning out of control. (Also, we have a fascinating discussion on the differences between maternity leave here in the states and up in Canada; as we get closer to our presidential election, Brandie has graciously agreed to come on the show again specifically to talk maternity leave.)

Click here or go to weturnedoutokay.com/062 for the full show notes for this episode!

Brandie shares a couple of key ways that she reigns in weeknights for herself and her two boys, ages eight and 12:

  • take time on the weekend to make a list of meals for the coming week’s dinners; having a plan in place means that you don’t have to think about what’s for dinner as you’re driving between work and daycare, or stopping at the grocery store on your way home after picking up kids from child care
  • when possible, try to figure out how to make “rolling meals;” this is where tonight’s mashed potatoes side dish becomes tomorrow night’s shepherd’s-pie-topping
  • ask friends “what are you making for dinner tonight?”; often times their ideas will spark ideas for you – and in fact this happens during the recording of this episode, when Brandie brings up BLTs and I realize that we have everything needed to make them tonight for dinner, so we can quickly and easily make tonight’s dinner and still have time to prepare part of tomorrow night’s lasagna

Brandie gives really great advice for parents of young children, who are just trying to get them to eat: calmly, non-judgmentally expose kids to all kinds of foods. She emphasizes that the key is to have the exposures be really nonchalant and repeated frequently; our thinking about food can be so fraught with anxiety, and kids pick right up on that. It’s better to relax, enjoy the family time, and don’t stress about the food. Great advice indeed!

Key Links:

Brandie’s website, thenewfamily click weturnedoutokay.com/contact.com, is where you’ll find The New Family Podcast, the 1000 Families Project (which you are invited to be a part of), recipes by Brandie’s friend and fantastic home cook Michael Forbes, intended just for busy families, and Brandie’s free e-book, 11 Ways to Keep Your Family Weeknights from Spinning Out of Control

To contact me, head to weturnedoutokay.com/contact

To sign up for your free fridge-worthy, anti-tantrum infographic, head to the website for my forthcoming book, positivedisciplineninjatactics.com; signing up for the infographic also means that you’ll be the first to know when Positive Discipline Ninja Tactics: Key Tools to Handle Any Tantrum, Keep Your Cool, and Enjoy Life with Your Young Child goes live in Amazon (April 3 is the planned launch date) – where it will be FREE for three short days!

060: How Do We Know What To Feed Our Kids? A Conversation with Mom and Author Jeannie Marshall

IMG_0385Today, guest Jeannie Marshall and I talk about a subject near and dear to my heart: food. Italian food, no less – Jeannie, Canadian by birth, and her husband chose to make their home in Rome, Italy a little more than a decade ago. When Jeannie became pregnant with their son Nico, she developed a fascination for how Italians introduce their babies to food, and the part that food plays in Italian children’s lives now that factory foods and agribusiness have made inroads into Italy. She details her experiences in one of my favorite books, The Lost Art of Feeding Kids.

Our conversation reflects Jeannie and her family’s love of Italy, Italians, and Italian food – and also her family’s first-hand experiences fighting that battle that we fight every day: getting in start scrolling expensive and tasty meals on the table (and then getting our kids to eat those meals).

Find the complete notes to this episode at weturnedoutokay.com by clicking here!

One memorable line from The Lost Art of Feeding Kids: Jeannie writes about when Italian mom of baby Rocco, a boy the same age as Nico who is being exposed to first foods as well, says it’s as though we North Americans “were teaching our babies not to like food.”

Italian babies, it turns out, aren’t exposed to foods one at a time to detect allergies; instead, they enjoy a special broth at first, to which parts of the family’s meal are puréed and added as the baby gets a little older.

Our conversation ranges over so much else! Listen for:

  • the differences between visiting the beach and sharing a restaurant meal as a family – a frequent Italian family trip – and visiting a waterpark that opened nearby, where the only food options were those very familiar to us North Americans, hamburgers and chicken nuggets and anything that can be set up in a warming tray; reading The Lost Art of Feeding Kids three years ago was the first time it occurred to me how pervasive the warming-tray culture is here where I live
  • how agribusiness makes the food of our cultures not cool, and how dangerous that can be for a typical family (and their tastebuds)
  • why parents and grandparents are sometimes at odds for what is best in raising the newest generation

Jeannie is optimistic that the beloved Italian food culture is winning the war against the food companies trying to hijack it. She shares that there is a heightened awareness among Italians of the importance of passing on traditions to children, and that those legendary and beloved street markets are thriving.

I hope you enjoy our conversation, and I hope to have Jeannie back on the show in the future!

Key Links:

Review The Lost Art of Feeding Kids here.

Jeannie’s friend Rachael Roddy has written a cookbook that Jeannie describes as “a wonderful companion for The Lost Art; it becomes available in the US this spring. When it does, I’ll link to it here!

Sign up for my free gift to you, the 9 1/2 Key Resources for Old-School Parents here.

057: Facing Fears While Raising A Young Child – A Conversation with Dad and Teacher Bret Turner

IMG_2016Last fall, I posted a picture (that picture, right over there) on instagram, a quote from the movie After Earth: “Fear is not real. It is a product of the thoughts you create. Do not misunderstand me. Danger is very real. But fear is a choice.”

Today’s guest, Bret Turner, and I ended up having a fantastic, lengthy and deep conversation that started with this quote. I absolutely love instagram, and this kind of thing is why – without it, I would never have met this thoughtful first grade teacher and father to a 17-month-old girl.

I love these People-In-Your-Neighborhood conversations, with parents just like you, out in the real world, combining family and work in a balance that allows for contentment, positivity, and joy. Bret and I talk about all kinds of things, from why music is such a great transitional tool for young children to the positive lessons older kids and teens can take from Inara, the beloved prostitute on Joss Whedon’s short-lived gem, Firefly.

Click here go to weturnedoutokay.com and read more about my conversation with Bret!

Bret, his wife, and their daughter live in Berkeley, California, and Bret’s initial thoughts on my instagram quote from After Earth were that as a white, straight, middle-class American man, it seemed very privileged to him to go around talking about how “fear is a choice.” Sure, he could choose to fear or not – but does a Syrian refugee or a young black American man have that same choice?

A valid point. But when I came back in our instagram conversation and shared that, as a seven-year-old, I had been molested and really wish that I’d been introduced to the idea of fear-as-a-choice, because thinking of fear as something I can control would have helped as I grew up with the feelings of guilt and fear – the molester threatened my life if I ever told – and of course Bret completely understood where I was coming from.

So we had this really cool meeting of the minds, which seems to rarely happen in modern discourse, where we can each understand the other’s point and even agree with it, expanding both of our perspectives and helping us appreciate our different perspectives as well.

I hope that our conversation helps you face your fears, whether about the wider world or in your own home!

Key Links:

Watch this TED talk with conductor Ben Zander – seriously, right now. You’ll be glad you did!

Bret and I turn out to be fans of the same science fiction – we especially got into the SYFY channel redo of Battlestar Galactica, and Joss Whedon’s western set in space, Firefly.

I have not listened to this particular episode of This American Life, but Bret took a lot from it.

Download the free gift I made for you, the 9 1/2 Key Resources for Old-School Parents, here.

054: Helping Our Kids Learn from Their Mistakes: A Conversation with Mom and New York Times Best-selling Author Jessica Lahey

Welcome!

To listen, scroll down to the bottom of this post and press the triangular “play” button.

About this episode:

Several years ago, today’s guest wrote what was for me an earth-IMG_1927shattering piece in the Atlantic Monthly (read it here). Jessica Lahey’s article discusses an experience she had as a middle school teacher, where she realized a student had plagiarized, called the student’s mom to discuss the failing grade the student would be getting – and the mom said “you can’t fail her… I wrote that paper for her, she has too much on her plate and couldn’t do it herself.”

My guest’s article talks about how, when your mom writes your papers, you are robbed of the experience. It’s one way in which you are not learning how to fall down – by writing a bad paper – and get back up again.

Fast forward to summer 2015, when I heard Jess on the wonderful podcast The Good Life Project, discussing both the article and her new book, The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed. Last December, I attended Jessica’s live presentation about The Gift of Failure, and she graciously offered to come on the podcast; today’s episode is the conversation we had a week or so later, and it’s a great one!

To read more about our conversation, click here to this episode’s notes page at weturnedoutokay.com.

During our 3D-bookshot-wo-borderconversation, I share that, as a parent, I tried really hard to make sure everything was perfect for my kids when they were little.

I ask Jess: why do we parents do this? She laughs – the sympathetic laugh of a woman who has been in my shoes – and talks about how we want what’s best for them, and we also want that jolt of oxytocin that comes with being depended upon… And then shares about how she moved from encouraging this kind of dependence to seeing her relationship with her kids blossom when she started encouraging their autonomy rather than their dependence upon her.

Highlights from our conversation include:

1) the work of Carol Dweck, a researcher who focuses on the difference between a fixed and a growth mindset; believe me, we want to encourage a growth mindset, the one in which our kids look upon challenges as fun and setbacks as learning experiences instead of a reason to give up

2) the relationship between these three words: autonomy, competence, and connection; one of the major themes in The Gift of Failure, Jess illustrates that as parents, our job is to foster these three traits in our children, they are the key to a good life

3) how to give our kids the gift of failure, without feeling like failures ourselves; there’s a real mind shift that must take place to go from “oh – let me do that for you” to “hey, great job – you worked really hard and did that for yourself!”

Overall, I love our conversation because it’s clear that Jessica Lahey sees both sides of this coin, understands this from the perspective of a parent who doesn’t let her children fall down and figure out how to get back up. In her book, her live presentations, and in this interview she provides a roadmap to give our kids the gift of failure – and understand what a true gift it is.

September 2016:

Announcing We Turned Out Okay’s First Online Class!

Want to: Have more self-reliant kids? Cut down on the day-to-day struggles in your home? Discover the #1 mistake parents can make?
Sign up for the FREE online class I’m teaching!

                                                                                  

Class date: Sunday, September 18, 2016
8:15 p.m. EST
Click the big question mark in the picture above to sign up. I’ll see you there!

051: Joel Boggess of The ReLaunch Show is All About Healing and Forgiveness

joelsoloradioWhen today’s guest was five years old, he fell off a railway bridge and landed on hard ground 30 feet down. He spent weeks in a coma, and years healing; at the time a doctor wrote into his chart “don’t expect Joel to lead a normal life.”

Well, that statement certainly turned out to be true! Joel Boggess of The ReLaunch Show is living a downright extraordinary life, getting a degree in counseling psychology and then combining that with his background in radio to cohost – along with his wife, dentist and business guru Dr. Pei Kang – the ReLaunch podcast. Joel’s written an Amazon bestseller, Finding Your Voice, and he and Pei work together as entrepreneurs, podcasting and coaching.

Joel graciously agreed to come on We Turned Out Okay a few weeks previously, spent the morning of our interview at the emergency room for treatment of a busted elbow, and still came through with our chat. Talk about going above and beyond!

Our conversation ranged from Joel and Pei’s two golden retrievers, retired therapy dogs, to some great advice to help us help our kids through tough situations.

Click here to continue reading the show notes for episode 48!

At the time of Joel’s fall from the railway bridge, his parents were separated, and not in the best position to support each other. They found a way through, though, and support sometimes came from the most unexpected places: Joel’s mom was studying to become a nurse, and her classmates convinced the administration that she should be able to substitute written work for some of her clinical work, so that she could care for Joel and still get her degree.

Joel’s accident and subsequent experiences with getting better, relearning to walk and overcoming balance problems influenced him in one profound way:

“It sucked” going through it, he tells. But going through those sucky things and coming out the other side taught him patience and persistence, key qualities to getting what you want out of life!

Joel learned not just to get through problems, but to understand that setbacks have something to teach us, a core idea in Finding Your Voice. As we talk about the book – which I’m currently halfway through and loving immensely – other childhood experiences come up, especially concerning the abusive boyfriend Joel’s mom lived with during his younger years. Joel shares that recently he’s forgiven both his mom and the abusive boyfriend for their actions when he was a child, and how that’s helped him, Joel, be able to move past the events of his childhood.

While not one himself, Joel has two pieces of wonderful advice for us parents:

1) when our children are going through something tough, whether physical or mental, be there for them… we must give kids our time

2) as parents, it’s our job to help our kids find their own voices; it’s not about what we want for them or how we want them to live their lives, it’s about what they want for themselves

We’ll talk about the best ways to do that – to help our young kids’ true voices come out – in Thursday’s Your Child Explained, episode 49!

049: Parents ARE Leaders: A (Revisited) Conversation with Dr. Bob Nolley of The Labrador Leadership Podcast

Happy New Year!

During the first two weeks of January, we are revisiting favorite, helpful conversations from the very beginning of We Turned Out Okay. These are episodes that listeners really responded to, right from the start, and as I’m planning the next several months of what the podcast will be, it seemed like a great time to go back, re-listen, and remember.

Today I’m so happy to bring you my conversation with college professor and leadership expert Dr. Bob Nolley, who helped me be a better parent by thinking of myself as a leader with his podcast Labrador Leadership.

Click here to read the notes to this episode at weturnedoutokay.com!

Do you think of yourself as a leader? Maybe not, but as parents, the decisions we make every day – resolving conflicts, allocating money, making decisions that involve our kids – call us out as leaders whether we think of it that way or not.

I used to think of leaders only in a public or corporate sense; the president’s a leader. Heads of corporations are leaders, but certainly not me! Dr. Bob Nolley’s Labrador Leadership Podcast completely changed my views on leadership when I first heard him in January 2015, helping me realize that to lead has much more to do with our hearts than the size of the group we lead.

Listen for:

  • the Big Rocks exercise (Dr. Stephen Covey’s idea) to help you figure out what’s most important to you
  • how to make a list that will help you relax while also getting done what needs to be done
  • two examples of leaders in unusual places: one runs a quick-oil-change shop in Richmond, Virginia, and the other is Dr. Bob’s cohost on Labrador Leadership
  • conflict resolution and the art of apologizing

if you take only one thing away from today’s episode, I hope it is this: you are a leader! Thinking of yourself that way will help you both support the people in your life you care about most, and enjoy the life that you share with those people more.

048: How Do We Learn What We Need To Know? A (Revisited) Conversation with Dad and Author Daniel Wolff

Happy New Year!

During the first two weeks of January, we are revisiting favorite, helpful conversations from the very beginning of We Turned Out Okay. These are episodes that listeners really responded to, right from the start, and as I’m planning the next several months of what the podcast will be, it seemed like a great time to go back, re-listen, and remember.

Today, to start your new year off right, I know you’re going to love listening to award-winning author Daniel Wolff, who wrote one of my all-time favorite parenting books: How Lincoln Learned To Read. In fact, I loved this book so much that it is one of the 9 1/2 Key Resources for Old School Parents (which you can get by clicking here.) During our conversation, Daniel shares one of the most valuable pieces of advice for parents that I’ve ever heard.

Click here to read this post’s notes at weturnedoutokay.com!

Today’s guest Daniel Wolff has, among many other things, produced a documentary about Hurricane Katrina, been nominated for a Grammy, and written 10 books on all different subjects including the one that we spend most of our time discussing today, How Lincoln Learned To Read. Written in 2009, this book is a go-to for me whenever I need to make big decisions about about the boys’ upbringing; because Mr. Wolff tells the stories of the childhoods of many prominent Americans throughout history, I learn something different from each one. Plus, a great read that’s fun, interesting, historical – and makes me feel a little smarter each time I pull it off the shelf.

During today’s’s show, listen for:

  • the importance of fun in education; all these years later, we may think of Ben Franklin as old and stodgy, but almost right from the moment he could read, Franklin was quite the mischief maker
  • how author and scientist Rachel Carson’s girlhood, during which she stayed home often from school to play and walk in the woods, helped her grow up into the advocate for national environmental change she became
  • a great piece of parenting advice – my guest shares that decisions became much easier for him when he to “think like a grandparent”

Key Links:

Daniel Wolff’s author page at Four Way Books; here is his new book, The Names of Birds

How Lincoln Learned To Read, a great read that has helped me be a better parent

Amazing poet-for-children-of-all-ages Shel Silverstein

If you take just one thing away from today’s show, I hope it is this: we parents must play a crucial role in helping our children understand about fighting hard for what they want to become; there will always be someone around to knock an idea down, or discourage our kids… for them to truly succeed in life, we must be their true support.

045: Can’t Do This Alone: Getting The Support You Need with Mom and Career Professional Carey Andersen

If you’re listening to this the day this episode drops, it’s three days before Christmas… in many parents’ lives one of the busiest, most harried and frustrating days of the whole year. The laundry list of gifts for teachers, snacks for parties, plans for travel or hosting, endless shopping and wrapping certainly has me reaching for the chocolate vodka more often than is strictly necessary! If that’s how you’re feeling too, this episode just might be the best antidote to Christmas Crazy that you could find.

I met today’s guest during Hub Week, Boston’s first annual October celebration of all the cool things going on in the city. I attended several great events, and one of the best-of-the-best was called The State of the Podcast 2015 and featured a hero of mine, Christopher Lydon of Open Source, who’s been in radio for a long time and – as I found out at the event – was one half of the first podcast ever posted.

The event was incredibly well-planned and well-run and felt very intimate even with hundreds of people in attendance, and afterwards I got to talking to today’s guest – and found out that she was one of the organizers! As we kept talking, Carey Andersen shared about her experiences parenting a six-year-old while living with multiple sclerosis. Long story short, Carey graciously agreed to come on the show, and even suggested a direction for our conversation: asking for and receiving help. A difficult thing, but something that every parent needs sometimes.

We talk about some really cool stuff! Here’s a sampling:

1) how Carey and her husband moved their kindergartner from an unsustainable situation – when he was five, their now-six-year-old would come home from school saying “I don’t have enough time to play” – and into a different public school, where he is thriving in first grade

2) Carey shares a story about asking for help from an unsympathetic Cambridge police officer (who, it turns out, had just completed a departmentwide empathy training) and helping him understand that, even when somebody doesn’t look sick, they still might need help

3) we share about how our respective health problems have a similar upside: the ability to feel gratitude for every good thing, no matter how small

My conversation with Carey Andersen, a woman with a job she loves, a supportive husband and family, and a great little boy showed me the power of asking for and accepting help. With 2015 drawing to a close, it feels right that our last guest interview of the year focuses so clearly on giving and receiving and feeling grateful for everything we have.

042: Miss Conduct – Boston Globe Magazine’s Advice Columnist Robin Abrahams – Is My Guest Today!

Robin Abrahams, a.k.a. Boston Globe advice columnist Miss Conduct
Robin Abrahams, a.k.a. Boston Globe advice columnist Miss Conduct

It can be tough to find time to read the paper on a Sunday morning. In fact, I generally don’t finish it until much later in the week! But Sundays, I always find time for a favorite column, Miss Conduct, because author Robin Abrahams – stand-up comedian, doctor of research psychology, researcher at Harvard business school and professor of psychology and writing – shares great relationship advice in her own special, fun way.

When Robin agreed to come on my show, I did a little happy dance! And… I did another little happy dance when we had our conversation 🙂

Highlights include:

1) Robin’s most favorite question she’s ever been asked – and why

2) how the Miss Conduct column is similar to Seinfeld

3) outstanding advice for listeners in the midst of the crazy-busy month of December (or, any crazy-busy time leading up to an event): include the children in the lead-up to the big event, and try to spread the joy out over several days… I’m heeding this advice and it’s really helping me enjoy the season

I hope you find our conversation lively, fun, and above all helpful as you navigate this next crazy few weeks, which for most of us is going to be pretty darned busy!