Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Little Mommy

While visiting a friend and her 6-month old twins this morning, we turned our heads for 30 seconds, only to look back to see this:

Saturday, February 23, 2013

{this moment} Sharing from the "candy" bowl

A single photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour 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.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Grain-Free Baking -- Banana Bread!

Our friend, Sarah, came for a visit this past weekend. In the last few months, she has made some dietary lifestyle changes. Sarah and I both don't love the word "diet", but her changes do fall in line with the Paleo Diet (no grains, dairy, refined sugar, legumes -- big focus on organic meats/fish/eggs and veggies).

Last week, before she arrived, I did some recipe searching so that she wouldn't have to fall off the wagon...too badly! While I had heard about almond flour, I had never actually cooked with it. All it is, is ground blanched almonds. For dinner on Friday night, I made a taco pie with an almond flour crust. We loaded it up with veggies when it came out of the oven.

Unlike many conventional flours, almond flour is packed with nutrients. It is a great source of protein, good fats, vitamin E and magnesium, among other things. Grains, even gluten-free, can be unknowingly tough on our digestive systems, especially in very young children. I generally try to avoid wheat products. As I've mentioned before, wheat is not only heavily processed which removes most of the nutrients, it is almost always GMO (unless it is organic).

On Saturday, Sarah forwarded me a great banana bread recipe from paleOMG. It turned out to be fantastic; light and very moist. I ended up making French toast with it the next morning as well! I modified the recipe slightly. I used pure maple syrup, which does not fall in line with the Paleo diet (use raw honey instead). Here it is:


  • 3 medium (brown) bananas
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1 cup of almond flour (although I found that it needed a bit more)
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil (butter or olive oil could be used as well)
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 1 tbsp. pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract 
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • pinch of salt


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Mash bananas and add almond butter and then add whisked eggs.
  • Then add the rest of the ingredients. 
  • Grease bread pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. I found that my oven required an extra 8-10 minutes. 

I was thrilled with how this turned out so I gave almond flour blueberry-coconut mini muffins a try this week. The girls devoured them! They actually had to be cut off because they wouldn't stop eating.

I promise that your family won't know that this is grain-free! Almond flour can be purchased at any health food store. It is also easily purchased online.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

99 cent red cup

She happily entertained herself for 20 minutes with a 99 cent foam cup and some art supplies. Creativity and imagination at work. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mom's Health Is Best

Some of my fellow mommy bloggers may have seen One Sleepy Mom's post 5 Reasons NOT to Breastfeed. If you check out some of the 400+ responses, you'll see that many readers wrote some pretty horrific and hate-filled comments. Both blogger and bloggee are entitled to their opinions. After the enormous attention that her blog post received, she wrote a follow-up post entitled "How important is my opinion to you?" To me, not important at all. While I might not agree with the blogger's reasons, she can feed her baby in any way that she sees fit. As can I.

Breastfeeding was always something that I was going to do. There wasn't a question in my mind. I had a rough start. Latching issues, mastitis, blocked ducts...breastfeeding didn't come "naturally" to me. I didn't enjoy it initially. For the first four weeks, attempting to breastfeed Quinn made me feel extremely anxious because she would scream at the sight of the boob. I tried to look beyond all of that. I set my sights on the flexibility and ease of breastfeeding anytime, anywhere. The nutritionist in me loved the health benefits of breastfeeding. The mother in me loved the closeness to your little one(s) that only a breastfeeding mom can understand. 20 months into breastfeeding, I could write a post dedicated to this alone. After the struggles that I encountered, I can understand why a new mother would stop breastfeeding.

I do not think that anyone can deny that breastMILK is best for a baby. It doesn't matter if baby gets it directly, via pump or even via donor milk. But, it isn't that simple. New mothers focus ever ounce of their being on their new babies. For most, their mental, emotional and physical health takes a huge beating. Mom usually has to hit a wall before remembering to "put on her own oxygen mask before helping others."So, my point. 'Breast is best', but not at the cost of mom's health. A good friend of mine had her twins prematurely, so they both spent time in the NICU. Her tiny 4lbs babies couldn't latch but desperately needed to grow. She pumped. She pumped 8-10 times per day for two months straight. She was exhausted, stressed and never saw her little ones. At that point, she decided to switch to formula. She told me that she felt guilty for months following that decision.

Here's where I stand: Unless there are underlying medical issues, I think it is selfish for a new mother to not give her newborn baby some colostrum. That baby never has to touch the breast, but given the enormous health benefits of colostrum, he/she deserves it. One or two days of colostrum can have a dramatic impact on that newborn's immune system.

I've read a few responses by other mommy bloggers to One Sleepy Mom's post. They all talk about the Mommy Wars and how the "Breast is Best" campaign is detrimental to new mothers. Parenthood has become an unbelievably competitive, high-stakes "sport." If it isn't breastfeeding, parents are judging one another on something else; letting babies "cry-it-out", discipline techniques, forgoing vaccinations, solid food introduction, daycare choices... It is easy to get sucked in. If you attended a mommy/baby play group, closed your eyes and replaced the words poop, sleep and rice cereal for boys, biology and beer, you'd think you were listening to 17-year old girls gabbing while drinking Frapp.ucino's at Star.bucks.

New mothers know that 'breast is best' without having it shoved down their throats. In Canada, almost 90% of new mothers attempt breastfeeding, according to the WHO and Health Canada. Pre-T&Q, I will admit to catching myself judging a bottle-feeding mother. Looking back, I knew NOTHING but the health benefits of breast milk, learned from a book and a professor. Not everyone can walk a mile in a breastfeeding mother's shoes, so I can't really use that analogy. I've known many moms in my 20 months of parenting who have stopped breastfeeding at various points. I can tell you that none of them came to the decision lightly. Most of them were flooded with guilt, sadness and even doubt. But, like the other thousands of decisions that we need to make as parents, it was best for them, physically, mentally and emotionally. If Mom's health suffers, how can she take care of her little ones to the best of her ability? Mom's health is best. No more judgment.

Monday, February 11, 2013


I live with two soupaholics...and it is fantastic!

Since the weather became cold, I've been making homemade chicken broth every week or two. One batch of broth results in two batches of soup. These days, one large pot of soup only lasts for 2-3 days.  My girls have been devouring bowls of soup like it's ice cream. After finishing, they usually raise their bowl up and yell "Mamamama!"with an expectant look on their faces. The nutritionist in me adores the fact that they eat healthy food with such gusto!

Soups are such a fantastic way to get a ton of nutrients into our kids. Soup is the perfect food when we're feeling under the weather and have little appetite. It's a great way to warm up on these cold days. Indirectly, I also love how good the girls have become with spoons as a result of regular soup eating!

Most recently, I made them a butternut squash-carrot-apple and a curried pumpkin-pear-sage soup. Here's an idea of what I threw into these two soups:

Butternut Squash-Carrot-Apple

3-4 cups of chicken broth
1 large butternut squash (roasted for 1 hr at 400 degrees)
1 large onion, chopped and sautéed
3 large carrots, chopped
2 apples, chopped
Grated fresh ginger (to taste)
Dash of cinnamon and nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

-- Cut and seed butternut squash and bake cut side down in coconut oil at 400 degrees for about one hour
-- Sautee chopped onion in a coconut oil for 4-5 minutes
-- Add chicken broth, carrots, apples, ginger and spices (and butternut squash when it is cooked)
-- Cover and simmer on low heat for 1-2 hours
-- Thoroughly blend with hand blender

(Sometimes I'll add coconut milk to this type of soup, if I have it)

Curried Pumpkin-Pear-Sage

4 cups of chicken broth
1 large can of pure pumpkin
1 onion, chopped and sauteed
2 large pears, chopped
6-8 sage leaves, finely chopped
1 tbsp. mild curry powder
1 tsp all-spice
1-2 squeezes of fresh lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

-- Method is pretty much the same as above

Friday, February 8, 2013


**Edit: I feel like I should delete this post (or at least change the title to "Minor Snowfall" after seeing the snow pictures on from all of my New England friends!***

Dramatic title, I know. But, Toronto hasn't seen snow like this in five years. Shocking because Canada is the land of ice and igloos and hockey, eh? ;)

The morning started out with an unexpected snowday playdate with T & Q's twin friends, H & K. After pulling the two of them in their sleds in calf-deep snow for all of two blocks, I broke out into quite the sweat. The plows hadn't been out and my children now total approximately 50 lbs. I got my workout for the day!

Catching snow flakes!
The snow fell steadily all day long and by early evening there was over a foot on the ground. We decided to trek to a nearby restaurant for some dinner. We strapped the girls to our backs and off we went...

Despite the look on Q's face, she loved the
adventure and spent most of the walk
Jenn is standing in front of a pile of snow
that it up to her neck.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Teacher Teagan

For the last two mornings, after the girls finish breakfast and have their hands and faces cleaned, I've been putting random objects on the girls' high chair trays. It gives them a few minutes for quiet, stationary play. It gives me a few minutes to get the kitchen cleaned up.

Quinn doesn't last long and usually wants out of her high chair within five minutes. Teagan, on the other hand, happily sits there examining each object, stacking them or banging them together to make music. She is 100% in the moment.

This morning, while walking in the park, Teagan stopped to watch the workers at a construction site. She stood there for a while, taking it in. Quinn watched for a minute and then ran off.

When a plate of food is put in front of Teagan, she looks at it carefully. She touches it and often smells it. She then puts it in her mouth.

I am Quinn. We have the same personality. We are both intense. We move quickly - running, rarely walking. While intensity and speed aren't bad things, they can sometimes cause us to miss something beautiful right in front of our noses.

While watching a completely engrossed Teagan finger paint this morning, she reminded me without even saying a word, to live in the moment. 

As a mother of twins and two fur children, my days are busy and require planning. With meals, dog walking, clean up, activities, naps, playdates, my children and wife's happiness, laundry, grocery shopping, errands and my own sanity to think about, I always end up thinking one step ahead. I wake up in the morning and carefully put the puzzle pieces of my day together in the most efficient way possible.

Yes, I've become quick and efficient at getting two toddlers and two dogs out the door, but I worry that my efficiency has come at the detriment of sometimes just letting myself be. There is ALWAYS going to be something that needs to be done. Jenn will often remind me that it doesn't matter if [insert non-urgent household task] gets done right now -- she's right. I love her for that.

I absolutely adore my girls. They have both taught me so many lessons over the last 20 months. Today, a big thank you goes to my oldest, Teagan. Thank you for reminding me to sloooooooooow down and sometimes let myself live in the moment.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Family Holiday in the Sun!

We just returned from beautiful Tu.rks & Cai.cos where we stayed at the Bea.ches resort. This was our first real holiday as a family. The weather was gorgeous - sunny and warm (27 Celsius/high 70s Fahrenheit). 

This resort offers a very easy and worry-free vacation spot for families with young children. Sesame Street can be found everywhere, including nightly shows and Camp Sesame (daycare) for children of all ages. The characters will often be seen walking around the resort waving at wide-eyed, awe-struck children. The girls loved the Sesame Street shows, which were followed by a kids dance party. Our little dancing queens had a blast dancing on stage with the other kids. 

Three meals per day in restaurants was challenging at times, but overall, I think that the girls did very well. While there was some food throwing and even one broken plate, they enjoyed the sights and the constant attention from the friendly staff. I had to let go of their usual diet and I'm glad I did, because holidays are a time to enjoy. I will admit to momentary panic when we picked up blue-mouthed girls from camp one day. Their snack...Fruit Loops! 

We rented a wagon (see pictures below) for the week to cart the girls around. Fortunately, the novelty of the wagon lasted throughout the week. Riding in the stroller wouldn't have had the same appeal. 

The resort also has its own water park with slides and a lazy river. They even have slides for the younger ones. While Jenn and Teagan enjoyed the lazy river, Quinn quickly got the hang of the slides. Unfortunately, I don't have pictures of this one because she required a lot of supervision. 

We did enjoy ourselves but Jenn and I found the week to be tiring. It was pretty crazy with two 20-month olds who never stop moving and listen less than half the time. This meant that one of us couldn't take the girls to the beach or pool (giving the other a break). We didn't use the camp as much as we probably should have. I'll take the blame for that one though! I had a hard time leaving them when they were crying and frantically reaching for me. Since the girls don't go to daycare and are only babysat by people they know, all three of us weren't used to it. I know that I need to grow some thicker skin!

A few pictures from the trip!

The pool was a HUGE hit. All of the pools have large
shallow areas, perfect for small toddlers.
Happy girl at the pool
Jenn and her girls
Big kisses waiting for the parade!
The star of the Sesame Street parade!
The resort had a fantastic shaded playground.
Teagan is awe-struck by the Sesame Street parade
Miss Q looking angelic (briefly!)
Quinny and Mommy on a windy beach
Autograph signing and photos with Zoe
Pretty girl (plus T's arm) before dinner.
The giant chess board provided loads
of entertainment.
Another pretty girl!
She hated getting out of the pool.
Some quick beach time on our last day.