Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Temporary Tantrum Stopper and Fall with the Furries

When I pick up the girls from preschool on Tuesdays and Thursdays, they are usually whiny and cranky. It is likely from the stimulating 2 1/2 hours of playing and learning. I usually rush them home, quickly feed them lunch and get them down for their nap. Today's crankiness was particularly bad. It started within seconds of leaving the school's playground. By the time we got home, both of them were in full-on melt down mode. I needed to get lunch on the table, but because the double tantrum was so bad, I ended up sitting on the floor of the kitchen. I quickly grabbed the glitter bottles from the windowsill, stopping the tantrums in their tracks. 

I saw this Pin.trest-worthy idea on a blog a while back. The mom had made sparkly time-out bottles for her kids. They looked pretty cool and kind of hypnotic. Other bloggers have called them calming bottles. It is tough to tell from the pictures below, but they are filled with water and sparkle glue. Depending on the water to glue ratio, the sparkles can settle to the bottom in seconds or minutes. I grabbed some water bottles and sparkle glue this weekend and gave them a whirl.

This is what I did:
  • Fill a water bottle halfway with HOT water (hot will melt the glue). 
  • Add 1/3 of the bottle of sparkle glue (or less - better to start small since you can add but not take away).
  • Put top on and shake well.
  • Add more hot water and/or sparkle glue depending on how fast/slow you want the sparkles to settle.
  • Secure the top of the bottle if your kids are like mine and will try to remove it. 
She loves the sparkles but is equally proud
that she was able to balance it on its cap.
Still proud :)
Someone didn't want me to take a pic of
her bottle!
Riley, Finn, Carlee and I had a great walk in the Brick Works this morning. The fall colours are gorgeous and the temperature was just right for fall. Curious Carlee was off exploring which is why she isn't in the picture below, but you can check out my handsome boys! 

Riley and Finn

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Breakfast Spotlight: Oatmeal Cups

I've been meaning to write about a few recent recipes but keep forgetting to take pictures of the final product -- although my food pictures are not very good so it probably doesn't matter that much!

I've seen a few recipes for oatmeal breakfast cups. We love oatmeal but also eat a ton of eggs in this house. When we come downstairs in the morning, I am usually scrambling to get breakfast made before the little ones start freaking out from hunger. I'm not a fan of eating the same thing every morning and it seems like the girls aren't either, so I'm constantly looking for new ideas. I also love recipes that can be prepped the night before, making mornings that much easier. I threw this mixture together in less than 10 minutes.

The oatmeal cups sounded delicious and nutritious, so I thought that I'd give them a whirl on this Sunday morning.

Topped with pomegranate, blueberries
and chocolate chips

Oatmeal Cups ('Yummy Yummy Porridge Muffins' to the girls)


2 1/2 cups of rolled oats
2 tbsp. chia seeds or flax seeds (optional)
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 1/4 cups of milk (I used unsweetened almond)
1 egg
1/4 cup of raw honey or pure maple syrup
1/2 cup of unsweetened apple sauce
1/4 cup of melted butter
1 mashed banana
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Toppings: blueberries, raspberries, pomegranate, chocolate chips, nuts/seeds, raisins etc.


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Mix wet ingredients (minus milk) together.
  • Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix.
  • Add milk and mix.
  • Line muffin tin with paper or silicone muffin cups and fill with mixture (2/3 full)
  • Add toppings and bake for 30 minutes. 

They were delicious and everyone devoured them. A few things that I will change for next time:

-- Put more fat into them for the girls -- more butter or some coconut oil.
-- Add more protein. I'm going to try to make some peanut butter and banana ones for Jenn to take to work for breakfast. I also will try grinding up nuts and seeds to add to the oatmeal. The girls still have a tough time with whole nuts and seeds. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

T & Q at 28 months

Now that I've stopped by monthly updates, I feel like I don't write about daily happenings quite as much. Here are a few updates:

  • The girls are loving preschool. While they only go for two mornings per week, I feel like they're learning so much. Teagan is constantly singing songs. When she doesn't feel like napping, she will line up her animals and sing to them (usually "Happy Birthday" or "Roly Poly"). They will both randomly announce that it is "tidy up time!" while playing. Quinn, I've been told, is the queen of clean up at preschool. Apparently, she will go around the room telling the other kids that they need to tidy up, when they don't actually need to. Despite being the second and third youngest children out of 15, they seem to be holding their own. 
  • Their vocabulary has exploded. Teagan has surprised me a few times by asking a question in a full 6-7 word sentence. I am loving that they can now express their feelings or tell me when something hurts. I've been working hard to teach them about feelings without telling them what they are feeling. Teagan used to scream/cry if she was hungry. She will now tell me, usually through some tears, that "TT is hungry." Teagan has also developed "r's" so she can properly pronounce words like, Grandpa and grapes. Quinn's vocabulary is very good as well, but she tends to be more selective about when she will try new words. 
  • They fight like stereotypical boys. They're rough, loud and really go at one another. These days, I am finding it more difficult to let them play on their own so that I can get other stuff done. This seems to come and go in waves though. Hopefully soon enough, they'll be back to playing nicely together most of the time. Teagan tends to be quite possessive over certain toys (mostly the trains) and will get pretty nasty if Q goes near her. In turn, Q is proving to be quite the sh*t disturber and will purposefully throw Teagan's train tracks to annoy her. 
  •  The girls have turned into extremely empathetic little people. If I hurt myself, I will have four concerned eyes at my side immediately and two sets of arms around my neck. Quinn will frequently ask me, "Mommy, happy?" I can also get them to do most things (ie. earn an extra bite of dinner or wear a certain pair of shoes) by telling them that "it will make Mommy so happy", although that is something that I try to not abuse :) I'm sure my days of them doing things to make me happy are limited anyways!
  • My Mom and I cannot believe how far they've come at gymnastics class. When we started, the girls were just 19 months old. They couldn't jump on the trampoline yet. They needed help on the bars and beam. Now at 29 months old, they can not only jump but do seat drops and star jumps. They can hang on the bars and bring their toes all the way up to the bar. They can also walk across the very low beam unassisted. 
  • They are currently obsessed with construction sites and trains. We have watched workmen pour concrete for 10 minutes straight. We watched a crane move large pieces of metal for ages today. Bulldozers, diggers and excavators are huge hits. Needless to say, Bob the Builder is watched on occasion in our house. But what I love is that at the flip of a hat, they will push their babies in a stroller. No gender stereotypes in this house!
And now a few pictures!

A rainy day visit to the Science Centre
Big Kid Q
Apple picking!
Trying out Halloween costumes.
The city kid does some tractor ridin'
T and Q with their buddy from
The dancing queen.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

When toddlers are having a hard day

The girls have been testing and pushing limits lately. Typical two year olds.

We went to a play centre today. The girls were being rather rough with their friend and the other children. They seemed to be picking fights. They didn't want to share and claimed every piece of equipment as their own. I ran back and forth between T and Q trying to get them to change behaviours. I took them to a quiet corner for a time out and hug. It was stressful for me dealing with two toddlers having difficult days. I should have left 40 minutes before I did. I hoped the behaviour would change, but it didn't.

I could see that they were having a hard time and should have removed them from the situation since they were having trouble controlling their behaviour. I needed to be there for them and not feel like they were "giving me a hard time." I only realize this after what I read tonight.

I've been reading Janet Lansbury's site and Face.book page, Elevating Childcare. Tonight, she linked this article. I'll post it here so you don't have to worry about clicking again :)

It certainly hit home.

When Times Are Hard

Some days are just hard, and no matter what you do or say, your toddler may not be able to co-operate. Try to remember on those days that your toddler is ‘having a hard time’ not ‘giving you a hard time’, and he needs you in his corner more than ever.

It is never wrong to comfort your child or acknowledge her feelings. This does not mean you have to give in, change your mind, or feel like a bad parent for setting limits and following through. But come on, life is hard sometimes, and your child has the right to be angry, sad, or upset at the limits or conditions imposed upon him, even if they are in his best interests.

Just be honest, and use honest language: “This is hard for you.” “I see/hear that you are upset.” ”I’m sorry you are upset, you weren’t ready to leave the park.”

You don’t have to try to make it better by giving in. Just try to be with your child and the emotion in the moment. She might ask for cuddling, a hug, or a kiss, and there’s nothing wrong with providing this comfort- your child is not trying to manipulate you- as the teacher implied at one play class I attended.

Let me give you an example of one child who was having a very hard time co-operating at a class recently. He was hitting other children, breaking into tears every few minutes, and running out the door, despite the fact that his Mom had tried to engage him in the activities, and the teacher had intervened multiple times.

Mom said, “If you run out the door again, we will leave and try again next week.”So when her son ran out the door a few minutes later, she went to him with shoes, coat and hat in hand, and quietly said, “It’s time to go. You don’t seem to want to be at play class today.”

At this point, the little guy started to cry, and was begging to stay. Mom calmly proceeded to dress him, and headed for the car. She said, “I hear you saying you want to stay, but today was a hard day for you at play class. We are going to go home and have a rest. We will come back to play class next week, and try again.”

This Mom did so much right in this instance- she set a clear limit, gave a choice, followed through with what she said she was going to do, remained calm, and listened to her child.

She later shared that on the way to the car, her child was whimpering and asked to be held. Her question was, “Do you think my child was trying to manipulate me somehow?”

My answer was, “No, this was hard on both of you, and there’s nothing wrong with providing physical comfort and affection if your child requests it. After all, you still love your toddler even if you are less than happy with his behavior on a particular day.”

Toddlers can have bad days, just like we do, and the message you want to convey to your child is that you will step in to help her if her behavior is out of control, you love her no matter what, you have faith in her ability to learn, grow, and move on, and you are always on her side, even when her behavior may be difficult. Always try to acknowledge and allow your child’s feelings, even when you must take action or intervene in a way that she may not like or agree with!

Tomorrow, taking care of yourself so you can take care of your toddler.

Friday, October 11, 2013

A Tale of Two Cities

I was  recently approached by Kendra Thornton to collaborate on post about the two fantastic cities that we call home; Toronto for me and Chicago for her. While I've never been to Chicago, I've heard wonderful things about it and even heard of a few people saying that it is similar to Toronto. I absolutely love my city and was thrilled at the opportunity to share a few of my favourite things to do here!

Here is a little bit about Kendra, followed by her post about Chicago:

Kendra, the former Director of Communications at orbitz.com, has been packing her bags and traveling the world since she visited the Bahamas at 3 months old. She comes from a family of travel agents and founded Thornton Public Relations LLC in April 2005. She also appears regularly as a travel expert on ABC, CBS, NBC and CW affiliates across the country to share travel trends, tips and deals with millions of viewers every year.


Chicago is my home, and it is a wonderful place to live. There is so much to do at all times, and it is a great city to raise a family in. If you are planning a trip to Chicago, there are so many options and things to do. Chicago is home to numerous restaurants featuring some of the items that make Chicago famous, as well as unique shops and culture filled neighborhoods.  Chicago is a fantastic place to live, and below are some of my favorites attractions and eateries in the city.

1. Oak Street
If you are visiting Chicago and want to spend some time pampering yourself by shopping, check out Oak Street. This is a smaller area, but offers numerous shopping options for everyone. Oak Street is a very cool place, as many of the boutiques are converted brownstones that look like they are straight out of a history book!  This adds to the culture of the area, and gives it a rich historical feel.  Some of the stores you will find on Oak Street are Jimmy Choo, Barney, and Kate Spade. Oak Street is easy to find, as it is only one block north of the "Magnificent Mile" on North Michigan Avenue.  

2. Millennium Park
When the weather is nice, one of my favorite places to bring my family is Millennium Park. This is a national landmark that is home to the sculpture Cloud Gate, otherwise known as "The Bean". This sculpture is shaped like a bean, and tourists commonly photograph themselves in front of it. The Bean appears as if it is made of liquid mercury, and it distorts your shape and image while reflecting the skyline of Chicago behind you as well. Constructed by the Indian sculptor Anish Kapoor, Cloud Gate is 66 feet long and 33 feet high. There is so much more to Millennium Park than just The Bean, with the Lurie Garden, the Jun Kaneko Exhibition (until November 3rd!), the Crown Fountain, and more!

3.  Hot Doug's
If you are looking for a great place to grab a bite to eat when you are in Chicago, check out Hot Doug's. Hot Doug's is often called the "sausage superstore and encased meat emporium," and you can get some of the best hot dog's Chicago has to offer here! This hot dog joint is Chicago true and through, with the menu featuring items named for legendary Chicago figures.

4. Visiting
If this is your first trip to Chicago, you may not know where to stay.  Pick a hotel that is near some of the locations you want to visit, and check out the neighborhood around the hotel as well.  Many neighborhoods in Chicago have a unique historic feel to them, as well as interesting landmarks.  To help you pick a great hotel in Chicago, check out Gogobot.  This website is a great resource to have when figuring out what lodging options are available near areas you will be visiting.

There are just a few of my Chicago favorites, and merely some of the reasons I love living in this city. The next time you are planning a visit to Chicago, consider these tips and incorporate some of the destinations into your vacation.  Shop on Oak Street, take your picture with "The Bean", and eat a famous hot dog at Hot Doug's.  Don't forget to use gogobot for your accommodations, so you can find a hotel close to all the Chicago attractions you want to visit. Regardless of the season, you are sure to have a great time in Chicago!

And now, here's what I had to say about wonderful Toronto!


I love Toronto. I fell in love with it all over again since moving back after being away for 8 years. Since I've been back, I've made a point of exploring new neighbourhoods and trying new things. I spend my days with 2-year old twins in tow, so I've recently realized how kid-friendly Toronto is. Whether you're looking for a quiet, lazy day or a day jam-packed with action and adventure, Toronto has it all. Here are a few places that I have loved taking my twins.

Riverdale Farm
The farm offers free admission and is right in the heart of a downtown neighbourhood, Cabbagetown. I still can't get over that there is a farm in the middle of the city! Take a stroll through the farm's 7.5 acres and check out the animals, duck pond and butterfly garden. Farm staff are happy to answer questions or give your kiddos an up close look at some of the animals. From May through October, a farmers market is set up on Tuesday afternoons just outside the farm's gate. When the kids are finished at the farm, grab a coffee at Jet Fuel on Parliament and take a walk through Cabbagetown to check out the old Victorian homes.

Toronto Islands
You can't go wrong with a visit to the Toronto Islands. The collection of islands actually make up the largest urban car-free community in North America. Between April and October, hop on the ferry near the base of Yonge St for a quick ride over to Centre Island. If you've got little ones in tow, try out a few rides at Centreville and check out Far Enough Farm and interactive Franklin's Children's Garden. Bring bathing suits and enjoy the splash pads, wading pools and beach. Rent bikes and travel around the island or head to less crowded Ward's Island.

This east end Toronto neighbourhood has been heavily gentrified in the last 10 years. It is now packed with trendy shops, restaurants and cafes. While it is only a 10 minute streetcar ride from downtown, it still offers a comfortable neighbourhood feel. Locals joke that you can't walk a block without seeing a dog or a stroller. Check out kid-friendly Lady Marmalade or Bonjour Brioche for an incredible brunch, but be warned that the line ups start early! If you've got a sweet tooth, Desmond & Beatrice, for cupcakes, and Ed's Real Scoop, for ice cream, are where it's at. Te Aro's espresso is top notch and their patio is fantastic for an afternoon break. Stroll along Queen East and pop into some of the independent vintage furniture, design or fashion shops and galleries or hit up one of Leslieville's many parks for the kiddos.

I'm a self-professed foodie. Pre-kids, we were often exploring new and exciting restaurants. Toronto is a foodie's heaven and you don't always have to pay an arm and a leg for it. Toronto offers a taste of every culture so you can make your way around the world, from Little Italy to Kensington Market to Little India, without ever leaving the city! Definitely step out of the downtown core and head to Queen West, Ossington or Leslieville for dinner. A few of my personal favourites: Delux (Ossington), Lee (King West), Barque (Roncesvalles) and Queen Margherita (Leslieville). From May until October, be sure to shop with the locals at one of Toronto's many farmer's markets, including the Brickworks on Saturday mornings (year round). Most neighbourhood's offer a smaller weekly market at a local park. 

The city offers something for everyone so enjoy and let me know what you think!

Monday, October 7, 2013


Jenn had a conference in Washington, DC at the end of last week. Spouses were not only invited, they were paid for. I will admit that I slightly panicked when I heard about this many months ago. I've only been away from the girls for a night here and there. I couldn't turn down the opportunity though, so off I went. I met Jenn down there on Thursday and stayed through Sunday. Three whole nights and almost four days of freedom!

I did have some anxiety over leaving since the longest I've been away from them is about 36 hours. I know, I know! I desperately needed the break. Once I got to the airport, all was well. The anxiety started to subside.

It takes a city to raise twins!

T&Q were in very good hands. They spent the first two days with my parents. The girls came back to our house on Friday night to stay with Rob and Kelly (my bro and his girlfriend). On Saturday, Michael and Paige (other bro and his girlfriend) came by to take the girls to the park and hang out for a few hours. They returned to my parents house on Sunday for lunch and a nap. It is because of the six of them that I could truly relax and enjoy my time away.  If it wasn't for my family, I couldn't have comfortably left the girls for three nights. T&Q, of course, had a fantastic, fun-filled weekend. They got to go swimming, to a birthday party, watch Sesame Street with Grandpa, eat croissants from the French bakery and play at the park, among other things!

Jenn and I, on the other hand, got to sleep in past 7am! I got to flashback to the pre-twins days of going where I want, when I want. Not gonna lie...it was fantastic. It was nice to be selfish since the last 2 years have been the complete opposite. We took in the sights of DC, seeing as much as we could despite the shutdown. We enjoyed unseasonably warm weather. Summer in October. 34C or 90F. As much as I'd like to say that we partied, I can't. My body was exhausted and completely let down. I slept for 10 hours on most nights! It was a good mixture of work functions and our own fun.

The time away was the best thing I could have done. It was a rough September in our house. I now feel rested and recharged. My patience and energy level are back up. Since I'm with the girls 24/7, I never get the chance to miss them. I loved the time away, but truly missed them. I got the greatest hug from Teagan when we arrived back.

Since we picked them up on yesterday afternoon, they've been quite clingy. It's understandable though -- I've never left them before so it was confusing. Bedtime took ages last night. Q finally went to bed at about 9:30! Last Friday and Saturday were also the first days ever that they didn't have any breast milk. I did wonder if they would self-wean after my time away. It was actually quite the contrary. Within minutes of arriving home yesterday, Teagan was asking for milk. She completely dried me out last night, asking me confused, "Mommy, no more milk?"

My advice for newer parents...get away, even for a night. Don't wait! Absence definitely makes the heart grow fonder...and the patience grow thicker :)