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Muffin Tin Monday!

I discovered the blog Muffin Tin Mom a few weeks ago. After reading just one post, I knew she had something good going on.

What is a Muffin Tin Monday? Feeding your toddler (or anybody) a meal or snack in a muffin tin or cupcake cups. Clara-Bear can smell a therapy goal a mile away. The best way to get some alone time is to let my son know you want to teach him something. Muffin Tin Mondays seemed like a fun way to sneak in some learning, a little therapy, and hopefully encourage my why-are-you-so-challenging-if-you're-the-typically-developing-one son to eat more variety.

Muffin Tin meals can be whatever you want them to be. You can follow pre-made themes or make your own. I wish I had known about Muffin Tin Mondays when I was teaching my kids colors last year.

Themes can be used to teach or reinforce lessons about Seasons, Holidays, colors, categories, etc. Fine motor, sensory, and oral motor opportunities abound! And MTM's are a neat reminder that the world is still a new and amazing place to children. Something as simple as serving their food in a fun and different way is really exciting to them.

I couldn't wait for Monday. I had to give my 3 year old son a muffin tin meal the same day that I learned about them. I only had one 6 muffin pan, so he was my crash test dummy and Clara-Bear had a regular lunch. His muffin tin had a boiled egg, cheese sticks, a corn muffin, carrot sticks, a cup of milk, and tomato pieces.

He ate it all! This was big for me because he has not eaten a carrot stick in over a year and decided he was done with tomatoes last month. Mommy's been stressing about her boy and the veggies, so this success gave me hope for the future.

I was worried about the expense of Muffin Tin Mondays. Clara-Bear used to be a wicked thrower at meals and I don't trust her with my good baking pieces. Plus, it's fun when my virtual twins have matching sets. Plain muffin tins from the dollar store gave us a $2 foundation for our muffin tin meals. Unfortunately, I had seen cute and colorful silicone cupcake cups on the different Muffin Tin blogs and decided we needed wanted a fun starter set.

Ross had what we needed. These cute animal shaped baking cups were only $4.99 for a set of four. They even had two sets! I thought it was Fate. DH, not so much.

I didn't know how Clara-Bear would handle our first official Muffin Tin Monday meal of cheese pieces, Kix cereal, raisins, and watermelon sticks. She will pick up foods and eat with her fingers, but she is still learning to chew and there's no rhyme of reason to what she will eat with her hands. She prefers a fork. Something I'd love to get her past because it's a pain to feed her when we're driving around all day.

She also does not like to bite off pieces of food. Again, you never know why or when she will suddenly decide to take a bite of something, like MY sandwich or MY chicken wing. Most of the time she will not even pick up food that's in strips or sticks. I'm telling you, my therapy baby knows her goals and how to avoid them!

She ate it all! She was delighted with the cupcake cups, even doing some good spontaneous speaking. She's so quiet and so in her own world, that despite my grand statements that she knows more than she reveals, don't take her for granted, she's absorbing even when she's acting disengaged, I think I underestimated the appeal of eating in a cute, new way.

Clara-Bear has shocked me in the past by suddenly eating fruit chews and yogurt covered raisins (I believe in serving toddler all the foods they hate, even if they act like it contains a rage virus and refuse to touch it). She has never repeated this. For her first MTM, she ate each tough, wrinkly raisin. And all the Kix, which she has fed to Red Dog for two years. She even picked up each cold, wet watermelon stick!

She did decide to break each stick into pieces instead of taking bites. But that's okay, she needs to tear things apart to increase her hands strength. Here's what was exciting to see, as well - she used two hands to move the baking cups around! Now that her right side is stronger, she seems to think she is supposed to use either one hand or the other. Her OT and I were just discussing how Clara-Bear has not made much progress using both hands at the same time. It was reassuring to see her use two hands so she wouldn't dump the cups.

I've been creating opportunities for the kids to prepare meals and to serve themselves. These skills are built into Muffin Tin Mondays. Both kids enjoyed pouring the cereal and raisins into their baking cups.

Muffin Tin Mondays will also be the kids' first real introduction to days of the week. We've talked about what day it is, but not consistently. We've been housebound since last October, and despite a sometimes heavy teacher and therapist visit schedule, it's hard to keep track of time.

Let's be real. It's not just easier for the kids to learn new concepts in fun ways like Muffin Tin Mondays. Their life is Mommy's life. It's easier for me to keep up with all of Clara-Bear's needs and Alan's demands when our life is fun and not overly structured. Muffin Tin Mondays are a keeper!

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