Picky Eater: On the Road Edition

My toddler, in-laws and I recently drove to South Haven, Michigan, for family vacation. (Yes, the one without my husband.)

While the trip was amazing, and I had prepared well with copious snackage, the trial of feeding a picky eater on the road was a painful one to argue.

And he defended well.

what to pack for long drives with a toddler

We split the drive into two days, so we had lunch, dinner, breakfast and lunch to eat external to my house, grandma’s house or daycare where acceptable food is a plenty.

My husband and I stuffed him full of breakfast the morning we left. He shockingly ate all of two eggs, some of my cereal and a yogurt before leaving the house. (I promise we fed him dinner the night before. I can’t promise he ate it.)

We made it to Emporia before we had to stop for a diaper change and all-around bathroom break. He’d already eaten through two applesauce pouches and two cracker packages and was bored with two of my painstakingly prepared road trip toys.

Well, I knew it was going to be a long drive.

For lunch, we stopped at Panera. We tried to feed the toddler mac ‘n cheese — Panera mac ‘n cheese, which is delicious — and he refused it. A couple more applesauce pouches down. More crackers.

picky eater at panera
I have the pickiest eater.

I guess he did eat the bread bones (crusts) of my sandwich. He loves bread bones.

At the hotel, we ordered pizza for dinner. Really good pizza. Grandpa even got the toddler some breadsticks knowing how he likes carbohydrates and food without color or nutrients. Very little dinner was consumed. Instead, applesauce.

The hotel’s continental breakfast was impressive. Eggs, sausage, biscuits and gravy, Chobani yogurt and a make-your-own waffle bar.

We tried some of each, and he nibbled on half a tiny waffle before we gave up feeding him a food group other than… you guessed it.


He did eat some of a Starbucks blueberry muffin before he started playing with it. Still. It was a muffin.

We stopped at Subway for lunch, and I had given TF up at this point. I tried to feed him some actual Cheetos thinking it’d be similar enough to baby cheese poofs to pass the test. Again, no. Applesauce.

By the time we reached our VRBO, my toddler was hungry, tired and no one had the solution.

So I put him to bed, and he slept for 16 hours.

In the morning, he ate all of one egg, some sausage, most of a banana and tiny chocolate chip muffin.

I suppose I shouldn’t be shocked. He must have been famished from refusing to eat anything but applesauce for two friggin’ days, but jeez kid. Maybe it’s just road trips, but next time I’ll be prepared. Doesn’t want to eat? Neat. Here’s some applesauce.

Maybe I’ll also sneak in some prunes because the resulting constipation of the next day was horrible.

Oh, and he ate a donut. 

Today, I Cleaned

Usually, I treat cleaning like the wretched chore it is. An activity to bare because I dislike clutter, and dust makes me sneeze, and sticky things make me gag. But when my thoughts are scattered, or when I need to work through a problem, or when I’m upset, cleaning is therapy.

Today, I cleaned.

On Friday, June 7, my husband and I said goodbye to our dog Ivan.


Dysplasia settled into both of his hips at about the same time. We tried giving him joint health supplements, but he hated eating anything if it wasn’t in his food bowl. He ate around what we put in his food bowl. He stopped eating when we crumbled the supplements up in his food.

I just have picky eaters, I guess.


Last weekend, his right leg swelled twice its normal size. He stopped eating again. He stopped drinking. He didn’t have to go to the bathroom. His fur started falling out in patches and chunks. He couldn’t play. He could barely walk.

We knew it was time.

Not that knowing made it any easier.


My husband and I process grief differently. Crying, holding hands, sharing memories — those we need together. We also need to be alone to process this grief — him resting in silence or with soft music playing, and me in a cacophony of sound, moving, doing, cleaning.

It took two days to get through the grief to pick up the mess we’d made of our house — the empty pizza boxes, the glasses half-filled with water in every room, the shoes and clothes and clutter. Two days to fix the blockage in the vacuum that had previously felt so overwhelming. Two days to oil the dining room table, do the dishes, sweep the floor, start the laundry. Two days to cry and feel and clean.


He was our first deep love, our gentle lead. He reached out to us and curled up at my husband’s feet. He loved walks and fetch. He was big, and he was sweet. He pressed his face into the carpet when he slept. He carried the cat around in his mouth. He boofed at the mailman and shadows and squirrels. He loved the snow. He hated the rain. He chased his tail and happy hopped for dinner time. He destroyed every toy we ever gave him. He destroyed his bed and preferred the couch. He loved us, and we loved him.







Eleven years is not forever, but forever is how long I love you.