Wednesday, May 29, 2013

2 Years Old!

How is it possible that my babies are two?! Happy Birthday to my amazing little girls! We celebrated this past weekend with a second birthday party. For the last few weeks, the girls will reply "TWO!" when asked how old they're going to be on their birthday. I would then ask them what type of party they wanted to have. Their response, "wine and cheese!" Every two year old's dream :) I've decided that this will be my last monthly update for the girls but I plan to do them periodically.

Picture on the left was taken hours after their birth on May 29, 2011. The picture on the right was taken about a week before their second birthday.

  • One of the biggest updates from the last month happened the other day. Quinn peed in her potty for the first time. We didn't even realize at first. She sat there for a while, got up and lay in the spot where we usually put their diapers on. Jenn noticed that Q's leg was a bit wet and sure enough, she peed for the first time! We praised her like crazy. She seemed confused at first but then ate it up. We've decided that lots of praise will be their "reward" for going. No treats or bribery. 
  • Teagan continues to pull Quinn's hair quite badly. She will often do it for no reason at all. I have noticed that she does it more when she's tired or didn't get a good night's sleep. She ended up spending 3 hours in timeout (which included eating lunch and a brief nap) yesterday for refusing to say sorry. My twin parenting guru assured me that at this age they will remember, even after a nap. (More on the timeouts in another post) Both girls are unbelievably stubborn. Lucky for me, I'm more stubborn!
  • The girls are very into imitating us right now. Hilarious most of the time. Quinn constantly watches what I do (and listens to what I say). She now insists on bringing her keys everywhere and will try to hook them onto her pants' pocket after seeing me do it one day. They try to say the words and phrases that we say all the time, which is hilarious, most of the time. 
  • About 5 months ago, I was slightly concerned that Teagan wasn't saying as many words as Quinn. I decided to put her on the wait list for the Toronto Preschool Speech Therapists. I received a call about a month ago with an appointment for her. By that point, I really wasn't concerned anymore but decided to take her anyways. It was confirmed that she has more than enough words for a 2-year old. The only minor concern is that she doesn't articulate very well. I don't feel all the concerned and know that it will come. They both put two words together consistently and Quinn frequently puts 3-4 words together now. 
  • After 5 months of gymnastics training, they've both finally started jumping! It is quite adorable. The new bedtime routine now includes jumping on the bed for a few minutes. Quinn does somersaults on her own easily and Teagan is almost there. 
  • They have a recent obsession with trains. I'm not too sure where it came from but as of a few weeks ago, everything is about the "choo-choos". I found this 3-minute video called "Alphabet Train." It is quite catchy and they go nuts dancing to it. 
  • We had our first injury doctor's visit the other day. While running, Quinn went mouth first into the edge of the coffee table. It bled, but no more so than other times she has fallen. She had a brief nap but woke up crying with a fat lip. She is pretty tough and doesn't usually cry for long when injured. My concern was that the bleeding looked like it was coming from her gums and I worried that she had smashed her teeth. Fortunately, she "just" has a deep gash in her lip.
The closest family photo we could get at their birthday party.
Happy Teagan at her 2nd birthday party. 
Quinn has a guitar lesson post-party. 
Enjoying their last weekend in Muskoka

Startin' young. The kid loves music.
Loving the bubble guns at their party.
Elmo cakes for two awesome two-year olds!
Miss Q!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

It's Not Personal

We've all been there. Someone passes you their baby or young toddler only to have the child start wailing or pushing you away. Have you ever taken it personally?

We had a second birthday party for the girls this past weekend (birthday is tomorrow-post to come). Jenn and I were persona non grata to them. For the entire party, they happily played and entertained the crowd. They didn't give us the time of day. We didn't even get a family photo!

I didn't take the party shunning personally. I was happy that they were happy and comfortable. But, I am also number 1 in their eyes 98% of the time. They want to be with me when they're hungry or tired or hurt and most times in between. I have been pushed away by them less than five times in the last two years. Being number 1 isn't always sunshine and roses, especially when I see them push someone close to them away. It's hard not to feel a little bit hurt. 

Most people don't take this personally or try hard to remind themselves not to take it personally. The under 2 crowd, especially, is unpredictable. I know that it gets to some people when the girls don't give them any attention, refuse to hug/kiss them or cry when they try to pick them up. I have to remind myself that it isn't personal and that toddlers live in the moment. They don't understand social etiquette yet either (although they've got 'please' down pat!). 

In every baby and toddlers defence, it might not always feel great to be pushed into someone's arms or be told to hug someone they don't know well. I compare young children to dogs quite often. If you're a dog owner, you've probably heard people say, let the dog come to you, don't go to the dog. Same goes for toddlers. Over the last two years, the people who they've taken to quickly have left them alone but come down to their level. They don't force themselves or try too hard. At 16 months old, they met my cousin Ben, from New Zealand, for the very first time. Within five minutes, the girls were sitting in his lap playing with toys and giggling away. Ben did nothing but sit on the floor. 

How do you handle your kids shunning people? Have you ever taken it personally?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Cloud Dough

When I look at all of the crazy cool and crazy insane things that some moms do with their kids on Pint.erest, I usually feel like crap! Today I saw something super quick and simple that I knew the girls would love.

When our playdate plans got canceled at the last minute, I decided to give this sensory activity a whirl. The girls and I headed to the dollar store to pick up two very large, shallow bowls and some beach toys. We then grabbed a 10kg bag of white flour and some baby oil. Et voila! Cloud Dough!

- White flour (8 cups)
- Baby Oil (1 cup)

Note: I discovered minutes ago that you can use olive oil instead of baby oil if your child still puts things in their mouth.

1. With my hands, I mixed 4 cups of flour with 1/2 cup of baby oil for about 3 minutes. [Double or triple depending on the size of your bowl/container]
2. Add toys and enjoy!

This stuff is so silky and smooth. It can also be moulded into various shapes. It was no surprise that Teagan was mesmerized by it. She happily sat there pouring cloud dough from one cup to the other and scooping it with her shovel. Quinn had fun with it for a little while before trying to throw it everywhere. She required supervision and entertaining.

Add caption
It looked this neat for about 10 seconds!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Amidst the fighting...

The girls have been fighting A LOT. Over toys. Over an insignificant piece of paper. Over nothing at all. They pull hair. Their arms are so bruised from the biting, if someone noticed, they would probably give me a death stare. They've even drawn blood. But, in the midst of the fighting, we have good days or even just a few amazing moments, like this...out of the blue they grabbed each other in the park today.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The End of an Era

I sat at the dining room table in our Muskoka cottage this morning eating my breakfast. I looked out through the almost floor to ceiling windows at the lake, smooth as glass. The sun was trying hard to make its way through the clouds, succeeding and then retreating. There was still a bit of fog coming off the lake. A lone boat made its way across the lake, humming in the distance. I tried to soak it all in. It was never enough. Even if I had a thousand more mornings like that, it wouldn't be enough.

Our family's cottage was sold recently. The closing date is set for the end of June. We spent this past long weekend up there and it was most likely our last. It is the end of an era.

My Dad's parents built that cottage when he was just a teenager. I've been going there since I was in the womb. As a child, I have fond memories of spending weeks up there in the summer. We would spend our mornings at tennis and swimming lessons. After lunch, we would spend hours down at the dock, in and out of the water. Life was so simple. The way it should be as a child. After dinner, my brothers and I would sometimes beg our mom to take us in the boat to "Seagull Rock." We would boat to the massive rock island, home to hundreds of seagulls, with bags of stale bread. Throwing the bread off of the boat in all angles, watching the seagulls race hungrily for the pieces, never got old. While driving back to the cottage, the huge orange sun would slowly set. The TV would only go on, on rainy days. We didn't even care. Time never mattered at the cottage. We would eat when we would eat. No plans. Always casual. But, always delicious. We would even get up there in the winter. The snow would be several feet deep. Bundled up we would take rides in the little caboose of the snowmobile. After testing the ice, we would shovel off just enough to skate or play shinny (pick-up Canadian, I know!). As we all got older, things changed, but they also stayed the same. Mornings often included exercise - a run or a hilly bike ride. Afternoons were enjoyed on the deck or the dock with a cold beer in hand. Dinners were always a group affair. Everyone pitched in, in their own way. Some were master BBQ'ers, others great with sides/salads and some were whizzes at cleanup. Depending on the weather we would sit around the dining table inside or out, enjoying a feast, that included delicious wines. Last Thanksgiving was celebrated over candlelight because the power went out. The turkey and all the fixings were cooked on the BBQ. The meal was fantastic. When I think about the thousands of cottage memories that I hold dear, the central theme is always the same -- family and friends.

I remember the excitement that I felt when we planned to take Teagan and Quinn up there for the first time. While they were only 5 weeks old, I couldn't wait for them to experience one of my favourite places. They were fortunate enough to spend four weeks up there last summer. On the huge deck that spans the entire cottage, Teagan took her very first unassisted steps. I know that they will probably not remember the cottage but I'm happy to have the pictures to show them.

The dogs. Cottage life is heaven to Riley and Finn (and their Wheaten predecessors). The cottage is on a quiet private road making it safe for the boys to run free all day long. They run, swim, visit the neighbours and then crash at the end of the day. Heaven.

It is truly surreal. While I know that we will enjoy cottage life in the years to come, Muskoka will always have a very special place in my heart.

A very picture heavy post with a few pictures from recent years.

Captain Riley
Leapin' Riley!
Mr. Finn - happiest when he's fetching a stick.
Mommy and 5-week old Teagan on an evening boat ride.
Grandpa and Q.
Jenn and her girls on their very first ride. 
Cousin Katie and Q.
Family of ducks swimming away
Q & T swimming in their lifejackets. 
Canadian flag flying in the wind.
Jenn and the girls enjoying a drink - summer 2012.
Muskoka chairs!
TT talks to nature
Walking the deck with Grandpa - summer 2012
Teagan pauses briefly to give Aunt Gillian a hug
Beautiful Muskoka sunsets
Team Wheaten
Jenn, Atty, Quinn and Riley.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Dessert Spotlight: Chocolate Chip Cookies (2 ways)!

My first attempt to dehydrate the almond meal from my homemade almond milk failed miserably (how, I have no clue). Since then, I have managed to successfully dehydrate several batches. (Preheat oven to 190 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and spread out almond meal. Bake for approximately 4 hours. It is crumbly and dry when finished.) I then stick it in the blender or Mag.ic Bu.llet and grind it up to make almond flour.

Many almond flour recipes will be found on Paleo websites. I usually modify the recipes slightly (often adding butter which is not allowed on a Paleo diet).

I tried the recipe below with my freshly ground almond flour. The cookies were very good but the almond flour made them taste slightly grainy (although it could have been because the almond flour was not ground up enough).

Grain-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from the Minimalist Baker

1 1/4 cups of almond flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 cup sugar (Options: Brown sugar, cane sugar, muscovado (unrefined brown sugar), coconut palm sugar)
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1 egg
3 tbsp melted butter (or melted coconut oil)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup shredded coconut (optional)  

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. In a mixing bowl, stir together almond flour, chocolate chips, baking powder, salt and sugar. 
3. In a separate bowl, beat egg. 
4. Whisk in the butter and vanilla and then add to dry ingredients and mix until combined. 
5. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place on baking sheet. Flatten slightly. 
6. Bake until edges begin to brown (approximately 7-10 minutes).

The peanut butter and banana oatmeal cookies by Genevieve at Vanilla & Spice are still my favourites in the chocolate chip department. These cookies are so delicious and are usually gone within a day in our house. I also love that they can be whipped up in no time!

PB & Banana Oatmeal Cookies
Adapted from Vanilla & Spice

1 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 large ripe banana
1/4 cup natural, organic peanut butter (I have mixed almond butter into it as well)
1.5 tbsp. melted butter (or coconut oil)
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp. pure maple syrup
Large handful of chocolate chips
Large handful of raisins
1/4 cup coconut (optional)
1 tbsp. ground flax (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine all the dry ingredients.
3. In a separate bowl, mash banana. Add nut butter, butter, vanilla and maple syrup. Mix until smooth.
4. Combine wet and dry ingredients and fold in chocolate chips and raisins.
5. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and drop spoonfuls of cookie dough about 1" apart.
6. Bake for 12-14 or until they start to turn golden.

Photo credit to Vanilla & Spice. (I just realized that I never
took a picture of my own version!)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Happy Birthday My Love!

Happy birthday (+1 day) to the love of my life and an amazing wife and mother! You don't look a day over 27 :)

Friday, May 10, 2013

Ry-wee, Puppy and Cah-lee

The first and third are pretty self-explanatory. The girls cannot say Finn, for some reason. F's seem difficult for both of them. Instead, they have taken to calling him Puppy.

Finn and Carlee have definitely bonded.

Where's Riley?

Team Wheaten waits patiently after their romp through the park.

The warm weather has finally returned. The boys introduce Carlee to their happy place, the dog beach!

Riley supervises Carlee's first swim

She tries so hard to keep up with the boys.