Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The newest family member

Fear not, we aren't adding a 3 to our blog title just yet...

Meet T, Q, R & F's Aunt Carlee!

Carlee, my parents' new addition.
TT, the dog whisperer, gives her aunt a hug.
Riley and Carlee
Teagan adored her.
Finn and Carlee bonded immediately.
T gives the crate life a whirl

Monday, April 29, 2013

23 Months!

Where o where is the time going? I cannot believe that we are a month away from 2!

Showing off their Elmo shirts! 

  • Vocabulary-wise, both girls have really taken off. They understand hundreds of words and seem to learn how to say new words daily. They have also started putting two words together. Q never stops talking. While driving, she constantly calls my name and then repeats every single word that she knows. During the day, she asks me several times about Mama, 'Gampa' and 'Atty's' whereabouts. They imitate everything -- Q promptly repeated a mild swear word that I said the other day. And, so begins my swear jar. Their frustration over not being able to verbalize some of their wants and feelings is still high. It usually results in a lot of yelling (at Mommy), biting and hair pulling. 
  • Re: biting and hair pulling. Both of the girls have arms that are covered in little bruises from constant biting. The bite is usually the result of a toy being stolen. Teagan resorts to hair pulling most of the time, although she has been significantly better about it in the last few weeks. While Teagan is by no means innocent, I have noticed that Quinn knows exactly how to push T's buttons. 
  • Teagan has started throwing some pretty epic tantrums. Quinn went through it a few months ago. Sometimes I can't even figure out why T is upset. There is only one pair of shoes that she will currently wear. If I even suggest that she wears a different pair, all hell breaks lose. She throws some pretty fantastic tantrums when we need to leave the park as well. I've tried the "we need to leave in 5 minutes" and "after this [insert activity] we need to leave", but it doesn't make a difference. This too shall pass ;)
  • Teagan has proven to be quite the dog whisperer. On many walks through the trails or in the dog parks, dog owners have been shocked that their dogs who are normally scared of babies or strollers are happily licking Teagan's face and waging their tails. On one walk last week, Teagan extended her arms and was quickly surrounded by four massive 80lbs+ dogs who gentled nuzzled her face, giving her little kisses.
  • Whenever I bring them their bowl or plate of food, they will ask me, "hot?" and "nice?" Nice = good temperature to eat immediately. If I've told them that it is hot, they will blow on it, to cool it off. 
  • Quinn is the 'elephant who never forgets'. I will tell her something once and she remembers days later. After having a "picnic" on the floor weeks ago, Quinn has said, "down?" (literally meaning, 'are we going to sit right here in the exact same spot?'), almost daily when I say that I'm about to prepare a meal or snack. 
  • Teagan's love of music and movement is awesome. She always notices music playing, even in the busiest and noisiest places. She will bop her head or tap the table to the beat. She loves to dance as well and comes up with the most adorable moves. 
  • Teagan has become the most incredible eater. She regularly eats 2-3 helpings of a meal, especially if soup is on the menu. Quinn has become slightly more picky, depending on what is being served. They had their first ice cream yesterday from Toronto #1 rated ice cream shop. Interestingly, Teagan tried a bite or two and was done. Lucky Quinn -- she sat there happily eating the rest of it! I still continue to feed them a 95% wheat, dairy and refined sugar-free diet, but allow for treats and delicious cheese occasionally. 
  • The girls are still breastfeeding three times per day (morning, before nap and before bed). They can go without it if I am not around (which I love). In the last little while, they've gone to bed several times without it when Jenn and I were out. I would really love to stop nursing before nap, but it is proving more difficult than I thought. They are extremely attached to it and it is a nice way to settle them after a busy morning. 
A few photos from the last month:


Classic Q 






Friday, April 26, 2013

Breakfast Spotlight: Coconut-y Fruity Oatmeal

While I love oatmeal, I sometimes get sick of it. There were times in my life where I would eat it every single morning. I am not one of those people who can eat the same thing for breakfast every. single. day. Even with oatmeal, I need to change it up, if it just means swapping out the fruit and nuts.

The girls like oatmeal and will eat it, but it is never something that gets them asking for seconds. Until today. [insert applause] I actually made an oatmeal that they seemed to love!

After making coconut milk two days ago, I had a bowl full of pulp in the fridge. I already had steel cut oats made up, so the rest was easy. I didn't measure anything so forgive the vague measurements in my recipe below. This kind of thing is best made to taste anyways!
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What are steel cut oats? These oats have gone through the least amount of processing (unlike the extensive processing of quick oats, for example). They are very high in fibre. They are a great source of protein and complex carbohydrates and low on the glycemic index, which will keep you feeling full for much longer. 
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In a large pan, I mixed and warmed up:
  • 1 cup (approx) of cooked steel cut oats
  • 3 tbsp (approx) coconut pulp
  • 1/4 cup (approx) high fat plain yogurt (Greek would be ideal for the protein)
  • 1 cup of frozen mixed fruit (strawberries, mangos, peaches)
  • 1-2 tsp (approx) raw honey


Monday, April 22, 2013

Snack Spotlight: Green Smoothie

I made the girls a hearty smoothie as a post-nap snack the other day. One of the biggest challenges is making a smoothie thin enough that they can drink it out of a sippy cup. They aren't trustworthy enough to drink out of a cup yet! Lucky for me, I made a delicious and nutritious smoothie that the two of them happily drank from their leak-free sippies!

Here's what went into it:
(measurements are approximate)

  • Large handful of broccoli microgreens
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen wild blueberries
  • 1/4 cup of my homemade ground nut and seed mixture (see below)
  • 1 tbsp. raw honey
  • 1/2 cup 9% fat plain Greek yogurt
  • Almond milk (I have no clue how much - maybe 1 cup?)


I'm a big fan of microgreens. They are not the same as sprouts. Sprouts are grown in water only. Sprouts are nutritious but can go moldy very quickly so they should be consumed within days of bringing them home. Microgreens are grown in soil and are the in the youngest stage of the vegetable's growth. I love broccoli microgreens, in particular, because they're a great (absorbable) source of calcium and iron, among other vitamins and minerals. 

Raw nuts and seeds are a fantastic source of protein and fat. Even though the girls have teeth, they have trouble with bigger nuts like walnuts. One of my go-to breakfasts for the girls is a bowl of their almond "yogurt" with fruit. The problem is that this doesn't have very much protein or fat to sustain them through the morning. Enter my homemade nut mixture:

In a blender, mix 1/2 cup raw/unsalted nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds etc.), 1/2 cup of raw/unsalted seeds (pumpkin, sunflower etc.), 2 tbsp. flax seeds and a dash of cinnamon. That's it!

Sprinkle over yogurt or bake into cookies, muffins, pancakes etc. It will add a punch of protein, fibre and fat. Store the extra in the fridge or freezer (Why? Nuts and seeds go rancid very quickly. Storing them in the freezer keeps them fresh for longer.)


Enjoying their green smoothie
Q examines what she is drinking

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Happy!

Happy is one of the girls' current favourite words. They also always say it in a very happy tone with a huge smile on their face, making it even better!

I know that Q looks like she was being mauled but she was laughing her little head off.




Friday, April 12, 2013

Like a true Canadian...

...start em' young!

video

And, in case you missed T&Q's skating photos, you can see them here.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Attention parents of girls!

Attention! Attention parents of girls! I received some valuable information today that you all need to know!

Is your daughter active?

Does your daughter prefer blue, green, yellow or red to pink?

I've got news for you! She is a lesbian!!

I was informed by another parent at our class today that because Quinn is an active little girl AND because she does not gravitate towards pink things, she is going to be a lesbian. I'm so grateful to this stranger for the insight into my 22-month old daughter's sexuality.

This comment came after she told me to pierce Teagan's ears so she wouldn't be mistaken as a boy and after a comment about Teagan being FATTER than her twin sister.

I told her that I could care less if strangers mistake my daugher for a boy and that it happens regardless of what she is wearing (she has been called a boy in a bright pink jacket). With regards to Quinn being a lesbian, I sarcastically told her that I didn't realize that such criteria existed and that I was confused because their other mother loves pink.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Homemade Coconut and Almond Milk

Since the girls don't drink cow's milk, I've given them almond or coconut milk on occasion. They don't often drink it though and I hate wasting it. Store-bought milks include additives, including synthetic vitamins and minerals.

My first attempt at coconut and almond milk was actually a success (meaning T&Q happily drank it)! It was surprisingly easy to make as well.

Homemade Coconut Milk

1.5 cups of unsweetened, raw, shredded coconut
3 cups filtered water
1 tsp pure vanilla extract (optional)
1 tsp raw honey (optional)

1. Soak shredded coconut in water for 3 hours (2 hours would probably be fine)


2. Put coconut and water (and honey and/or vanilla, if you'd like) into blender and mix on high speed for 2 minutes. It should start to look creamy. I ended up blending it for another minute or two, but my blender wasn't super powerful.

3. The BEST way to strain the coconut milk is through a nut milk bag. Whole Foods had run out of them when I was there. I ended up using a very fine strainer, although you can also use cheese cloth. I rested the strainer on a large bowl and left it there for about 15 minutes to thoroughly strain all the milk out.

4. Pour milk into a glass jar and drink within one week.

This is what it looked like the next morning.
It doesn't even compare to store-bought stuff.
It was amazing!
The tiny taste testers devoured it and promptly asked for "mo"

Homemade Almond Milk

1 cup raw almonds
3.5 cups water
1 tsp vanilla (optional)
Sweetener (2-4 dates, honey etc. - optional)

1. Soak almonds in 2-3 cups of water for about 8 hours

2. Rinse and drain the almonds and place in blender with filtered water, vanilla and sweetener (and anything else you want to add for flavouring!)

3. Blend on high speed for 2 minutes

4. Just like the coconut milk, the best straining method is through a nut milk bag. The fine strainer that I used worked decently well, but I would still recommend investing the $7-8 in a (reusable) nut milk bag ;) I let the milk strain for at least 15 minutes.

5. Pour into a glass jar and consume within about 5 days.

Almonds soaking overnight
Final product: Vanilla almond milk and the almond pulp

Note: Don't throw the almond pulp away! There are so many delicious uses for it - hummus, cookies, muffins, granola, smoothies... I'll blog in a few days about what I end up making with it!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Book Review: Nurturing the Soul of Your Family

Self-care is self-preservation.

The transition into motherhood was tougher than I thought it would be. While I do not believe that I had postpartum depression, I definitely suffered from the baby blues in some respect. I knew that life would change when the twins arrived, but nothing could have prepared me for the gravity of the change.  I spent the first couple of months in survival mode, learning the ropes of parenting. Self-care wasn't even on my radar. There wasn't time for me, when two babies required my attention 24/7. I survived on adrenaline for a while, wanting to be supermom, but knew in the back of my mind that I'd eventually burnout. Funny enough, when I did burnout, I didn't learn my lesson. I put on a few bandaids and jumped back on my wobbly parenting bicycle.

When I finally (sort of) learned, I would feel guilty whenever I did anything for myself. I wouldn't feel recharged and relaxed at the end of my 'me time.' In a way, it was pointless.

When I was contacted a couple of months ago to read Renée Trudeau's book Nurturing the Soul of Your Family, I immediately said yes.

"Self-care is not about self-indulgence, it is about self-preservation." 

One simple sentence that has changed my outlook on 'me time' and is helping me drop the feelings of guilt (hey, it's a work in progress!). Renée goes on to talk about the direct connection between our emotional and mental well-being and our relationships with our spouse, children and friends. Since reading this book, I have reminded myself almost daily that unless I take care of myself, I am no good for anyone else. Self-care is not about 'massages and pedicures', Renée says. Self-care is about tuning into your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs. It can be as simple as taking a 15 minute walk in the park or having a heart-to-heart conversation with a close friend. For me, it is also sitting down to write.  I've realized recently how these small things nurture and feed my soul. My gut told me that I needed to read this book. When the book arrived, within minutes, I was hooked.

As a parent, it is clear that Renée understands the challenges of balancing work, life, relationships and children. She talked to many parents while writing this book and quotes several of them throughout. Alyson, a mother of three, wrote, "Realizing that sometimes we needed togetherness and sometimes separateness changed our lives. Tuning in to what's needed individually and collectively for our family helped us all feel happier and more free." I liked this quote because there are always going to be reasons why we can't take care of ourselves, just like there are always reasons why we can't get to the gym or eat healthier. If the entire family tunes into their own needs, we can all hold one another accountable.

At the end of each chapter, Renée provides practical exercises for readers. She starts out each exercise by asking readers what they're doing well (a 'pat on the back'). For me, this is a great way to start my reflection since I can be quite critical of myself. She then provides valuable tips and questions to help readers 'put it into practice.' This is followed by journaling exercise to 'imagine a new way of being.' These exercises' have forced me to be present when I'm reading, instead of in a million different places like I usually am.

This book couldn't have come at a more perfect time for me. While reading, Renée gently reminded me to not only make time for self-care but also be kind and compassionate to myself. She is realistic and practical, having been through some of the same struggles that millions of other moms have faced. Regardless of what your current work, life, family or individual goals may be, Nurturing the Soul of Your Family is a must read.

** Nurturing the Soul of Your Family can be ordered here.
** More information on Renée Trudeau can be found here.

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, New World Library. The opinions in this review are entirely my own. I have received no compensation for writing this review. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Breakfast Spotlight: The smoothie that wasn't...

Somehow, I messed up a smoothie yesterday morning.

The girls were already eating their breakfast when I decided that I felt like making a smoothie for myself. I had some leftover coconut milk that I threw in the blender. I added 1/2 a banana, a huge handful of raspberries, blueberries and kale. I added a small amount of almond milk and then blended it up. When it was finished, it had the consistency of yogurt, but I poured it into a glass anyways.

My curious little foodies took one look at my drink and demanded some immediately. Because it was so thick, I poured it into their bowls and gave them a spoon. They devoured it. I managed to eat one quarter of my smoothie, at most. Quinn ate 3-4 helpings. I lost count.

"Kid" yogurt is packed with sugar and other additives. I figured that I would share my smoothie blunder because it took me less than 5 minutes to throw together a healthy, dairy-free fruit (AND veggie!) yogurt for the girls. Coconut milk is a great source of fat for toddlers and it tastes delicious. Other great additions to a smoothie/yogurt are sprouts, spinach and mango. Bananas and mangos are a great way to naturally sweeten and mask the greens. A tablespoon of raw honey can also sweeten it.

Note: I used a can of organic 100% coconut milk. It had been stored in the fridge in Tupperware. Coconut milk solidifies when it is put in the fridge which is most likely why my smoothie had the consistency of yogurt. If you made this with a room temperature can of coconut milk, you might want to add an extra banana or put it in the fridge for 30 minutes to thicken.