Thursday, March 29, 2012

10 Months Old!

T&Q have hit double digits! I remember when the girls were just a few months old, someone said to me, 'just wait for the 6-12 month much happens then!' I can't remember who said it but, were they ever right.

Quinn & Teagan

  • We finally got a "pen" to contain our little movers. We got the Superyard but opened it up to block off certain areas. Both girls are now doing "real" crawling, although Quinn seems to still prefer the army crawl. 
  • They're both pulling themselves up on everything now. While Teagan started doing it before Quinn did, Quinn has been quick to master getting down as well. Teagan is a bit more cautious and will usually look at me with her big puppy dog and whimper when she wants down. Today though, she made a breakthrough and found her own unique way of getting down (see picture below). 
  • Quinn is fearless. She gets up and down easily. She has started cruising (walking) along the couch or the coffee table. She climbs on their little Fisher Price table and has come very close to falling from it head first. It's awesome to see her learning new things but it's also a bit terrifying! 
  • Both girls have been experiencing some attachment/separation anxiety with me. They will usually want to be next to me or on me. It generally gets worse when we're at our play groups. I have to cleverly distract them with toys and then stay out of their sight. They will usually be fine and play happily then. 
  • We went through a very discouraging period of sleep regression. We had worked so hard to get our girls sleeping well only to go back to being up at night. The regression periods on last for a few nights. Teagan is currently waking around 11pm crying. Hopefully this phase will end quickly!
  • On the food front, they recently tried quinoa and millet. Both are low-allergen gluten-free grains that are most importantly, nutrient dense. They will eat it for breakfast mixed with fruit. This morning they had millet with blueberries, banana and a touch of pure vanilla and cinnamon. They've also been eating a variety of beans and legumes several times per week. I made an Indian dish with lentils last week and for the first time, we all ate the exact same dinner! 
  • In the last few weeks, I started signing to them again. I've only been signing a few things - milk, eat, more, finished. They are definitely understanding them now. If I sign 'milk', for instance, Teagan will crawl over to me. When I sign 'more' while they're eating food, Quinn will turn her head away if she doesn't want any. 

Standing at their "post"
Our little ham
Teagan's way of getting back down from
standing. She reached to the floor verrrry
Q making a rare funny face

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Review: Fit Family Bootcamp

Towards the end of my pregnancy, I was anxious to get my pre-babies body back. Don't get me wrong, I loved being pregnant. I also understood that losing the baby weight too quickly, if you're breastfeeding, can have a negative impact on milk supply. I've just always been active and in good shape so I was looking forward to hard workouts again.

After my 6-week postpartum check-up with the midwives, I was given the all-clear to start real exercise again (walking doesn't count in my book!). It proved to be faaaaaar more difficult than I thought it would be. You would think that squeezing in a 45-minute spin class would be easy enough, but between caring for two babies, caring for myself, the house and getting much needed sleep, I didn't get back into exercise as quickly as I would have liked.

Enter Dara and Fit Family. Her company offers a variety of different pre and post-natal bootcamp-style classes. I will admit that prior to discovering Fit Family, I thought that Mommy/Baby bootcamps wouldn't be challenging enough for me. I'm not saying that I'm a triathlete, but even after the babies were born, I still felt like I was in pretty good shape. When I work out, I push myself hard. Within 15 minutes of starting Dara's bootcamp, my preconceived notions about bootcamps were squashed. By the following day, I could feel my legs while walking up and down stairs and my arms still burned when I picked up the babies. I emailed Dara to tell her that she had succeeded!

One of the best things about this bootcamp is that babies are welcome to come. Our bootcamp took place in a dance studio with mirrors on two walls. Moms bring a mat and some toys for their babies, who all hang out happily (hopefully!) at the back of the room. Because of the mirrors, the babies are always within sight. For the most part, my girls were pretty well-behaved. If a baby does melt down, Dara will adapt the current exercise so that it can be done with baby in arms. If your baby is having a particularly rough day, she/he can be put in a carrier (ie. Ergo or Baby Bjorn) and the workout will be modified accordingly. Regardless of baby's mood, you always get a great workout.

Having worked with a variety of personal trainers and other fitness types, Dara is one of the most adaptable trainers I've ever met. After tearing ligaments in my wrist and going through two surgeries, I'm unable to do exercises that put weight through my wrist. After telling Dara about this on the first day, from that point forward, she automatically adapted every push-up-like exercise for me so that I would still get an equally difficult workout. Working with a group of moms and unpredictable babies, things often come up. There were a few times when both Teagan and Quinn started fussing to the point of needing to be picked up. Dara was always quick to grab one of my babies for me.

Fit Family also offers prenatal, stroller (outdoors) and customized bootcamps, as well as personal training. Classes take place all over the Greater Toronto Area. Avoid the hassle of trying to get someone to watch your little ones so that you can get in a workout and check out Fit Family's bootcamps!

Disclaimer: This review was written on my own accord. This blog receives no payment or other compensation for reviews of these services. 

{this moment} 4 Children

A single photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Adventures in Food - Beans and Legumes

I haven't blogged about food in a while, I just realized. Fortunately, we still have two very good eaters! When I place the girls in their high chairs, they go on high alert, trying to figure out what they're about to eat. They usually kick their legs and lick their chops excitedly. 

They have been really enjoying beans and legumes. This is great news for Jenn and me because we love them ourselves and eat them frequently. By themselves, beans are pretty boring. I've been adding vegetables and lots of spices to their bean mixtures. 

Canned Beans - Salt & BPA
If you look at the nutrition label and ingredient list of most canned beans, you'll notice that they have quite a bit of added salt. Babies do not need any added salt in their diets. Excess salt can put a lot of strain on their fragile little kidneys. BPA (Bisphenol-A) has been in the news quite a lot in recent years. It has been used in plastics for over 50 years. BPA is an environmental estrogen and is therefore a hormone disruptor. This isn't great for adults but it is especially concerning for the developing bodies of children. It can interfere with a child's physical and behavioural development. Parents are now strongly encouraged to buy BPA-free bottles, cups, toys etc. for their children. Almost all canned products contain BPA (in the can itself). Making a BPA-free can is very expensive for companies. Eden Organic is one of the few companies that does make BPA-free cans. They also does not add salt to their beans. The black beans have a small amount of kombu seaweed added, which is perfectly safe for babies.

When I made the girls lentils, chick peas and kidney beans, I purchased dry beans. Dry beans require some planning. They need to be soaked overnight (for at least 6-8 hours). In the morning, they usually need to be boiled in water for a good hour (sometimes more). I know that these are vague instructions but it depends on how much you're making. Remember that one cup of dry beans will roughly equal three cups of cooked beans. 

I didn't get my act together to buy dry black beans and really wanted to give them to the girls today. They got canned Eden Organic black beans instead. Here's what I did with them:

T & Q's Mexican Black Beans
1 can of Eden Organic black beans
Approximately 1/4 of a mango
1 clove of garlic
Squirt of lemon (or lime)
Ground cumin, coriander and paprika (seasoned to your liking)
Approximately 1/4 cup of water

Add all ingredients to a pan. Warm and then mash up or put in a food processor and blend to baby's liking. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Swingin' on a Sunday

I've been dying to take the girls over to the park so we could put them on the swings for the first time. If you're in the Toronto area or on the east coast of the US, you've been experiencing this amazing spring-like weather. We have a park right around the corner so we took the girls over there this afternoon. Our friends over at 30 Fingers, 30 Toes gave me the idea of putting both babies in the same swing. The girls loved it!

Quinn loved it immediately!
Teagan was nervous at first but once she got used to it, she
was all smiles!
The boys!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Protective Instincts

When we're pregnant, we think about what type of parent we want to be (and don't want to be). We think about how we were parented and may want to do it exactly the same or we may want to do it completely differently. We watch other Moms and Dads in the grocery store or in a restaurant and unintentionally judge or praise them for how they handle a difficult child. Parenting ain't for the weak, as my Dad says.

I never thought that I would be an overprotective parent. As a child, my parents allowed us to explore and try new things. They would help and guide us but also let us figure things out on our own. We played sports, got injured, went on trips and did some things that were higher risk. The only two things that I can recall them refusing to buy were trampolines and Sea-Doos. Even then, we were allowed to rent a Sea-Doo on my birthday. My Mom just didn't want to watch.

In the last two months, the girls have gone from rolling around to crawling and climbing. Today, for instance, Teagan pulled herself up on every single one of our chairs, the bouncy chair, the coffee table and even attempted to pull herself up on the very wobbly jumperoo. I find myself cringing every time she stands there, usually holding on with just one hand. I picture her falling backwards smacking her head. It is inevitable, I know. My protective instincts are coming out in full force.

Before now, I could keep them safe, almost all of the time. While they may have wanted to explore, they weren't physically able. In the blink of an eye, I suddenly have two extremely curious explorers who now have the strength and agility to try things that could result in tears, bumps and bruises (or worse). I'm not naive. I knew this point would come before I know it. While my protective instincts are very much present, I do my best to not stand over Teagan while she proudly holds herself (one-handed) up on a chair.

I remember feeling something similar to this when they first started rolling over. I kept worrying that they would smack their heads. They did. Several times. And...they were fine! I will find that balance with this next stage soon enough.

There is no doubt that I will have to continue to find that balance between being protective and letting go, over and over again. I've witnessed parents who hold their children back over fear of them getting hurt. I will not be one of them. While I cringe at the thought of my babies falling and smacking their heads, in the future, if the girls want to play hockey, soccer or go skiing, I would never hold them back. That, I take from my parents who always let us try things. I can say with 100% confidence that I will not have bubble children!

Our sweet little girls are growing up and it is only just the beginning!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Play Time at the 519

The 519 Community Centre in Toronto hosts a variety of play groups on the weekend. We've taken the girls a few times. On our most recent trip, there was a photographer going around taking pictures of families. Here are a few shots that we really liked.

Teagan loves BIG!
Family shot
With our friends, Mark and Shin and their
4-month old twin boys

A happy Teagan and I
Jenn and Quinn
A very focused Miss Q

Monday, March 5, 2012

Lessons From A Child

Every day I receive brief articles and thoughts from DailyOM. Some of them I read, some I don't. Some really resonate with me - Today's article was one of them. 

March 5, 2012
Learning to Follow

When we approach children with the awareness that they can teach us, we automatically become more present ourselves.

As grown-ups, we often approach children with ideas about what we can teach them about this life to which they have so recently arrived. It’s true that we have important information to convey, but children are here to teach us just as much as we are here to teach them. They are so new to the world and far less burdened with preconceived notions about the people, situations, and objects they encounter. They do not avoid people on the basis of appearance, nor do they regard shoes as having only one function. They can be fascinated for half an hour with a pot and a lid, and they are utterly unself-conscious in their emotional expressions. They live their lives fully immersed in the present moment, seeing everything with the open-mindedness born of unknowing. This enables them to inhabit a state of spontaneity, curiosity, and pure excitement about the world that we, as adults, have a hard time accessing. Yet almost every spiritual path calls us to rediscover this way of seeing. ! In this sense, children are truly our gurus.

When we approach children with the awareness that they are our teachers, we automatically become more present ourselves. We have to be more present when we follow, looking and listening, responding to their lead. We don’t lapse so easily into the role of the director of activities, surrendering instead to having no agenda at all. As we allow our children to determine the flow of play, they pull us deeper into the mystery of the present moment. In this magical place, we become innocent again, not knowing what will happen next and remembering how to let go and flow.

Since we must also embody the role of loving guide to our children, they teach us how to transition gracefully from following to leading and back again. In doing so, we learn to dance with our children in the present moment, shifting and adjusting as we direct the flow from pretending to be kittens wearing shoes on our heads to making sure everyone is fed and bathed.

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Saturday, March 3, 2012

"Food Before One, Is Just For Fun"

I feel like many parents these days push solids on their babies too early and too quickly. The WHO recommends that babies receive breastmilk (or formula) exclusively for the first 6 months. I'm often reading posts in my baby-related Facebook groups about giving solids to 4 or 5-month olds. Usually, the parent wants their baby to sleep longer at night and thinks that this is the answer.

Once solids are started, it seems like there is a huge rush to get the baby eating fruits, veggies, meats, grains, processed baby cookies and even dairy. Parents stress if their baby only eats a few bites of a puree. They compare notes about the exact amount of solids their baby eats. I have never once measured the amount of food I give the girls.

Baby-led Weaning's motto is 'Food Before One, Is Just For Fun.'  This does not discount the importance of solids, it just relates to the amount eaten. Baby-led weaning allows the baby to control his/her intake of food by eating whole food, as opposed to purees. I've been doing a combo of purees (some smooth, some chunky) and BLW with the girls.

At 9 months, the girls have only tried fruits, veggies and most recently, lentils.  They nurse 4 times per day and receive one 8oz breastmilk bottle at night. In my opinion, breastmilk should provide them with the majority of the nutrients that they need until they turn 1. I wholeheartedly believe in BLW's motto. I've introduced the girls to just about every fruit and vegetable that I could think of! I love to eat and love to cook. I want the girls to enjoy it as well. I've spiced up the blander veggies with things like garlic, onions, ginger, cinnamon, cumin and turmeric. They've had their own guacamole with onions and garlic sauteed in coconut oil and a dash of lemon. I don't stress if they only gnaw on a carrot stick for a few minutes or only take a few bites of a puree. They try everything and that's the important thing. The nutritionist in me wants to introduce them to as many healthy foods as possible to start them off on the right foot. I want food and eating to be fun for them. 

Many people are told that rice cereal needs to be given at 6 months because a baby's iron stores are depleted by that point. This is not entirely true. A baby doesn't suddenly wake up on their 6-month birthday with no iron in their system. Their iron stores decrease gradually. Between 9-12 months, it's important for babies to start getting iron from food, hence the girls introduction to lentils and leafy greens like kale and swiss chard. I will be introducing them to other legumes first. They will eventually have meat and gluten-free grains. While the amount of iron in breastmilk is fairly low, it is highly absorbable so babies absorb about half of it. This absorption rate is way higher than all other iron-rich foods. [Side note for adults: Vitamin C significantly increases iron absorption. Add some fresh lemon onto your iron-rich salad greens so your body can maximize iron absorption]

My family loves to cook, eat and enjoy meals together, laughing and chatting around the dinner table. In the girls short life, they've already experienced this because my Dad bought them high chairs for their place. While they can't eat what we're having yet, it is clear how much happier they are to be part of the action.

Food is so much more than just fuel for our bodies. It's an experience. One of my good friends, Justine, a personal trainer and fellow nutritionist, is the perfect example of this. She shares my passion for food. I can only hope that I will pass on that love and passion to the girls!