Thursday, June 12, 2014

Egg Mice and the "Magic Words"

McKenna and Kendall are pretty good about using their manners and Alex and I have never referred to "please," "thank you," and the like as magic words; it's just something that you do, a reflex like saying, "Bless you" when someone sneezes. One day, the girls and I were over at our friends' house for a tea party play date and when Miss Caroline was finished with her quiche and tea, she stayed in her seat and very politely asked, "May I be excused please, Mommy?" -- "Yes you may." She got up and I realized that Beth didn't have to hassle her AT ALL to stay at the table while we were eating. Liiight bulb!

Every single day for every single meal it was a battle to keep the girls in their seats while we were eating. I HATED having to repeat myself over and over and over again every breakfast, lunch and dinner for the girls to just sit the fuck down. Of course, I used my manners and didn't drop the F bomb around my little parrots... Other than maybe once or twice to myself under my breath as my eyes glossed over with tears of frustration.

I googled "How to keep toddlers at the dinner table." A lot.

I tried implementing the "When you get up, you're telling me that you're finished" rule, but that seemed to work better in their favor as lots of veggies and other "yucky" stuff was left uneaten.

I tried taking away snacks so that maybe by lunch and dinnertime they'd be so hungry that they would want to sit at the table and eat all of their food, but that backfired; we all ended up cranky and frustrated.

I tried the "Kids will eat when they're hungry; don't force it," way, but... THIS AIN'T DENNY'S!

Later that day when we were at home eating dinner and the girls got up, I told them, "Sit down. You were not excused; you didn't say the magic words."

"Magic words?!" they asked, grinning.

So I explained very matter-of-factly that if they wanted to get up from the table, they must first ask, "May I be excused, please?"

Eagerly they sat down; "MAY I BE EXCUSED, PLEASE!?" in unison with big fat smiles on their faces.

"No. You haven't finished your dinner yet."

And that was that! Magic words.

Whether or not they actually eat all or any of their dinner is a complete toss up, but "if they're hungry, they'll eat" and they have plenty of time to do so as we're all sitting down at the table together and enjoying our meal as a family. Huge victory. I'd say the "magic words" have about a 90% success rate.

One thing that I know McKenna will gobble up for sure is Egg Mice.

She loves hard-boiled eggs and picked this recipe out of one her kid-friendly cookbooks, which I modified slightly.

Egg Mice


1 hard-boiled egg
Salt, pepper to taste
Matchstick carrots
Slivered almonds


Slice the hard-boiled egg in half and scoop out the yolk; mix with mayo, mustard, salt and pepper. Fill the yolk mixture back into the egg white and place the flat side down on the plate.

Then, poke one matchstick carrot into one end of the egg for the tail and on the opposite side, use a paring knife to make slits for the slivered almonds, which will be the ears.

Serve with cheese and fruit for a super fun, well-rounded meal for your toddler. :-D


  1. Cute!! We have the girls ask to be excused but still have the struggle. We did not introduce them as magic words...THAT must be the secret :) We threaten the "buckle chair" which sounds horrible but is really the toddler booster seat that my 3 yr old says is for babies. That threat usually! thanks for the cute lunch idea too!!

    1. I've been kicking myself for jumping the gun and putting our "buckle chair" out for garage sale earlier this year!

  2. 1. If the F word was the magic word, I'd have the best behaved kids since Jesus was a toddler. That's thought, not spoken. Or through gritted teeth, because then, it doesn't really count. Did you know that?

    2. We put our squirmiest kid on the inside of the table against the wall and pushed it toward her as far as probably social services would allow. She still escaped.

    3. If I have to carve broccoli into lemur families and sculpt Phineas and Ferb out of mashed potatoes ... I'll get to carvin' and sculptin.'.

    *-so glad I found my way here through Meredith's Manic Monday linkup.

  3. Cute mice!! That's one thing we are trying to learn over here too. You have to ask to get down from the table. Because while my older two have learned to eat quickly now which is great, they also want to get down immediately and the 2yo has just barely started thinking about eating! Thanks for linking up!!