Friday, January 31, 2014

{this moment} Waiting for Uncle Rob

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.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Top 3 Tantrum

Quinn threw an epic tantrum today. Definitely top 3. Maybe even number 1.

She seemed a bit edgy when we left their preschool today at 11:30. I got them into the car quickly, but within a minute, she was screaming. I wasn't even sure why. She started kicking the back of my seat with her dirty, snowy boots. She then started eating the brown snow off of them. When we got home I put her into the house first and went back out to get the rest of the stuff and a now screaming Teagan. Wasn't sure about that one either, but I suspect tiredness. When I walked back into the house, Quinn was flipping out. I tried taking off her snow pants, but she screamed louder and wanted them on. I got Teagan unchanged quickly and put her in the living room screaming as well.

It was 2 against 1 in the worst way. The boys ran for cover in the basement.

Since it was going to be impossible to comfort both effectively at the same time, I grabbed Teagan for a hug first. She was only in minor tantrum mode so I knew that it would be easier to stop. She wanted to put on her pjs. I took two screaming toddlers upstairs and changed T's diaper and let her pick out some pjs. She finally stopped. Q was next. I grabbed her and held her tight. She bucked and flailed her arms so strongly that she almost went over my shoulder and landing on her head. I continued to hold her tightly telling her that I knew she was having a hard time and I was there for her. She eventually calmed down enough to tell me through hiccups and tears that she wanted to wear her reindeer pjs. I put them on her and she immediately jumped into bed without lunch. She said that she was tired. I closed the curtains and gave her a kiss. It was done. She slept for two hours.

My parenting style has changed quite a lot in the last year. Parenting toddlers has a massive learning curve. Toddlers are also changing constantly, so we need to grow with them. Tantrums used to scare me. I didn't have a clue what to do with my screaming, out of control toddler. As a result, I would often just leave them be and let it run its course. While it didn't seem right to me, I didn't know what else to do.

About 9 months ago, I started reading Janet Lansbury's blog. It was through her blog that I realized that I needed to be a rock for my children during those meltdowns. I need to be there ally. Toddlers lose control during tantrums, which is often extremely scary to them. Whatever has set them off is an incredibly big deal to them, even if it is extremely minor in reality. As a result, I never leave them alone while they're throwing a tantrum anymore. I do the opposite. I validate their feelings. I tell them that I'm there for them. I hug them and hold them tight, especially if they've become particularly destructive.

Ever since I started validating their feelings, the frequency of tantrums has lessened, as has the duration.

Parenting two toddlers has certainly been a wild but incredibly rewarding ride. It has been the ultimate test of patience for me -- not my strongest quality for sure. But, I do feel like I'm learning and growing right along with them. Parenting isn't for the weak, as my dad says.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Like Mommy.

When I reread my initial post, it sounded weird. I feel like it required some explanation. 

Recently, the girls taken an interest in looking at pictures of themselves as newborns or "itty bitty babies", as they say. This usually leads into a conversation about how they grew in mommy's tummy. Newborn T&Q pictures and photos from my maternity shoot hang outside of their bedroom and playroom. We have also been around a few newborns and young babies lately. The girls adore babies. Quinn, especially, loves to "be like Mommy", which lead to my post yesterday. Here it is:

Last night, when I went to check on the girls and tuck them in before I went to bed, I noticed that Quinn looked unusual, but it was dark. I gently touched her only to realize that in the two hours between her bedtime and ours, she had become "pregnant" with Gay Bear.

This is her new thing.

In the last few days, Quinn has been "pregnant" with Gay Bear (small belly) and her baby doll (big, lumpy belly).

Sunday, January 26, 2014

4/52: Building and fishing

A portrait of my girls every week for one year.

Fishing craft project from  
My Little Craft Crate's January craft box.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Parent-Teacher Interviews

Yesterday was a first for Jenn and I in this wonderful world of parenting. We had parent-teacher interviews with the girls' two preschool teachers.

The girls absolutely adore school, which is the most important thing. We were thrilled to hear that their teachers love them as well. Teagan and Quinn are constantly entertaining them and always put a smile on their faces. I told Jenn that it is always nice for me to hear that when they've had a particularly challenging stretch at home!

They've both adjusted well and seem very comfortable there. Here are a few things that they told us yesterday:


  • The clean up queen. The teachers will turn off the lights briefly to announce that it will be clean up time in 5 minutes. Quinn snaps into action (prematurely), and starts cleaning up for all of the other kids. Some of them will be in the middle of building towers, but she doesn't care. She grabs the pieces and starts putting them into their respective boxes. 
  • Very Observant. She's always the first to notice if one of her 12 other classmates is away or if something has changed places in the classroom. You can't get anything by her (but we know that one from home!). She always notices if they take a child into the bathroom to use the potty or to change a diaper. She will check on them every few minutes, asking if they are changing the same child as before. 
  • Much more chatty and social now. It takes her a while to warm up to people (unlike her sister). She apparently wanted nothing to do with her teachers or her classmates for the first few weeks of school in September. She simply followed Teagan around. By October, she was going off on her own a bit more and was much more friendly with her teachers. Since they returned from Christmas break, she has been very chatty, speaking in full sentences. She has also been making friends, on her own and not with Teagan's help. 
  • Very independent. Despite being the youngest of the lot, she easily gets herself dressed in her snow pants, coat and boots to go outside. 
  • Very social and loving. She's always giving her teachers hugs and wanting to sit in their laps. She was able to make friends easily from the beginning. She seems to have a little boyfriend at school as well! In the last few weeks, she would often tell me about James. Apparently, Teagan sits next to James for circle time every day. She starts by rubbing his arm. She then moves down to his leg, usually getting distracted by his shoe. After examining his shoe for a few minutes, she gives him a back rub! The other day, James asked for help with his boots. Teagan ran over to him saying that she would help. She pretended to help James, but ended up giving him a big bear hug. 
  • Loves art. When given an art project, she will sit for ages focused on the task at hand. 
  • Great vocabulary. Her vocabulary has taken off since the beginning of the school year. She speaks in full sentences and comes out with some hilarious comments. 
  • Potty skills! She is peeing on the potty almost every day. She does it on her own and walks out of the bathroom diaper-less asking her teachers for a new diaper. 
  • Very independent. Like Quinn, she can easily get herself dressed. Their teachers love it!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

3/52: Snow Bunnies

I loved Allison's (Two Moms To Be) idea of doing a portrait of her children every week for the entire year. I'm still in awe of how much my two little girls changed over the course of 2013. I'm excited to capture 2014's changes via this little project. Thanks, Allison -- great idea!

A big smile from my serious Q
Tongue out = she means business

Thursday, January 16, 2014

My kids eat seaweed

My kids eat seaweed.

Happily devouring Seasnax Toasty Onion seaweed.
Hey guys, want to try some seaweed? I asked. Teagan reached for a piece and Quinn turned her nose up at it. No problem, I told her, giving a piece to T and taking a piece for myself. Teagan devoured it. Quinn was curious. Within minutes, she was happily eating it too. In our defence, Seasnax seaweed is delicious! It is a kid-inspired family company that states on their packaging that their product is "strangely addictive." It is!

People will often tell me that I'm lucky to have kids who "eat everything." I usually just smile and nod. I feel like I'm actually fooling them. My kids weren't born eating everything. They were trained to eat everything. And even then, they technically don't eat everything and love ice cream and cookies, like every kid. It continues to be a work in process. 

Well over a year ago, I read Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman. It is the story of an American mother raising her young children in Paris. She talks about the differences in parenting between the French and her American friends and family. She talked quite a bit about the differences in the way that American and French children eat as well. 

French kids weren't born with refined palates, happily willing to eat braised leeks, legumes and any other vegetable put in front of them. Apparently the French believe that children (or anyone for that matter) might need to try a food up to 14 times before they will like it. Since reading that, it has always been in the back of my mind. The French also talk about a child's first encounter with a particular food as being the start of a lifelong relationship. Each experience is part of their culinary education. 

Even the pickiest of eaters can be transformed, but I understand that it isn't easy. Here are a few tips, from my experience as a mom and as a nutritionist, to help transform a picky eater:
  • Make one meal only. I know that this can be really hard if your child only eats bread, cheese and apples right now, so it might need to be a gradual transition. Always have at least one thing per meal that you know your child will eat. 
  • Don't give in. Toddlers won't starve themselves. If your child looks at his plate and refuses to eat a single bite, don't give in and make them something else. This is REALLY hard. I've done it before. He might be starving by lunchtime, but he will learn eventually that he can't control mealtime anymore. 
  • Don't make a big deal about it. When one of my girls refuses to eat, I simply say, OK, and I take the plate away. It is very rare that they don't choose to take the plate back and eat. Don't stress out about your child not eating. Keep meal time happy and enjoyable. 
  • Just one bite. It really did take me about 14 tries to get my girls to eat spinach. I tried making it in different ways. My rule is always, take one bite. Initially, that didn't always happen, but soon enough they started trying it. I've been really consistent with this rule and now, no matter what, they will try everything on their plate.
She finished her entire plate of
  • Eat together. Try to eat one meal per day with your children. Kids are more inclined to eat and try new things if they see their parents doing it. Our girls love when the four of us can sit down for a meal together. 
  • Limit snacking. My kids eat breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack and dinner. In the rare instance that they eat a morning snack, their lunch suffers. With that being said, I don't allow them to go for more than 3-3.5 hours without eating, so if breakfast was eaten early, a snack will likely be given. From a nutrition perspective, snacking is a dangerous habit to get into. 
  • Don't deprive them. I always asked my clients to follow the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time make healthy choices. 20% of the time, eat what you'd like. While my kids eat very healthy, they still get to go for ice cream on a hot day or or eat dessert when we're out. My Mom never had junk in the house when we were growing up, but when we went out or went on vacation, we could eat what we wanted. This is the approach I've chosen for the girls. 
Catering to picky eaters can be stressful and time-consuming, especially for busy parents on the go. Transforming a picky eater isn't an easy task and might end up taking more time in the short-term. It takes great patience and understanding as well. Do it gradually and talk to your child throughout. Stick with it. It can be done!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Fun with homemade play dough

I've held off on homemade or store-bought play dough because I have one little lady who still loves to put everything in her mouth. We used to go to a drop-in centre fairly regularly. They made their own play dough every week and without fail, I was scooping it out of a mouth.

I decided that I'd give it a try, stressing that play dough is for playing and not eating. They finally get it :)

True to this mommy blogger's word, this really is the perfect play dough recipe!


1 cup of white flour
1/2 cup of salt
2 tbsp cream of tartar (buy what you need at a bulk store)
1 tbsp oil (I used olive oil)
1 cup water
Food colouring (optional)
Essential oils (optional)

1. Mix flour, salt and cream of tartar in a pot.
2. If you're using essential oils, add a 3-4 drops to the oil and then add to the pot.
3. Add food colouring (if using) to the water to make your desired colour, then add to pot.
4. Cook over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly. Dough will clump and become very difficult to mix.
5. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Knead play dough for a few minutes. Enjoy!

At the request of the girls, I made two different ones. Blue - smells minty fresh from peppermint essential oil. Orange - smells like orange from sweet orange essential oil. Random note: Sweet orange is a perfect essential oil for little kids. It is a happy and calming scent that brings peace to the mind. 

This is what we ended up doing with the play dough. I saw this activity online recently, but can't remember where. I wish I could give credit because it kept the girls busy for ages. Quinn, my 'get up and go after 2 minutes of doing anything' kid, loved this and sat for more than 20 minutes carefully placing O's on spaghetti.

Our vicious (lack of) sleep cycle

1. Toddler #1 and Toddler #2 go to bed at 7pm. Toddler #1 and/or #2 fight sleep coming out of their room multiple times for up to an hour, exhausting an already tired Mommy and Mama.

2. Toddler #1 and/or #2 wake up at least once (sometimes twice) during the hours of 11pm-6am. Mornings can officially start as early as 5am if Toddler #1 or #2 refuses to go back to bed, despite our best efforts. 

3. With an early morning start and middle of the night wake ups under our belts, we all start our days exhausted. Inevitably, Toddler #1 and/or #2 throw a (lack of sleep) tantrum or start a fight before 8am. 

4. Another tantrum or fight ensues. 

5. Mommy tries to keep two overtired girls occupied and happy.

6. Hoping that the lack of sleep will result in a decent nap, Mommy puts Toddler #1 and #2 down. Usually naps last for 1.5-2 hours. 

7. Mommy tries to keep two overtired girls occupied and happy.

8. Repeat steps 1 and 2…

The most discouraging part for us is that we can't figure out why they're waking. On Monday night, Quinn slept from 7pm-7am without a peep. On Tuesday, she woke at 10pm and then again at 3am. On Wednesday, she woke at 2am. On Thursday, it was midnight. 

They don't wake each other. They're not sick. They're not hungry. They don't have dirty diapers. 

I have thought, worried or talked about sleep this much since they were newborns!

This too shall pass…

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A different kind of preschool class

On a whim, I enrolled the girls in a class at Pawsitively Pets.

Like many preschool programs, Pawsitively Pets offers young children the opportunity to socialize, sing songs and participate in arts and crafts. What sets them apart though is hands-on time with a different animal each week.

While both girls adore animals, Quinn was often nervous to have an animal in her lap. Lucky for her, her sister was not. Teagan is a natural. Since she was an infant, I've called her the baby dog whisperer. Apparently, I should change dog to animal after her participation in this class!

Here are a few pictures from their class throughout the fall and early winter.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Breakfast Spotlight: Huevos Rancheros

Jenn and I awoke on New Years Day at 6am to Riley throwing up on our bed. It can only go up from here, I thought.

Jenn loves huevos rancheros. It is her usual at our favourite breakfast spot, Lady Marmalade, in Leslieville (a Toronto neighbourhood). She had wanted us all to go there yesterday morning but after cleaning up Riley's mess and dealing with two tired toddlers who had partied until 9pm the night before, we decided to stay in.

I whipped up some pumpkin muffins and then decided to give Jenn's favourite breakfast a whirl. It turned out really well! It is surprisingly simple and quick, considering Lady M's looks like a delicious work of art.

I'm not a great food photographer, but I assure you, it tasted delicious!

Huevos Rancheros
(4 servings)

-- 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
-- 1/2 tsp cumin
-- 1/2 tsp of chili powder
-- salt and pepper, to taste
-- Juice of 1/2 lime
-- Eggs (Jenn and I had 2 each, girls had 1 each)
-- Corn tortillas (Jenn and I had 1 each, girls had 1/2 each)
-- Salsa (I used store-bought, but homemade is delicious!)
-- Guacamole (I made my own)
     - 1 avocado
     - Juice of 1/2 lime
     - 1/4 - 1/2 tsp cumin
     - 1 garlic clove, crushed
     - salt and pepper, to taste
-- sour cream (optional)
-- grated cheese (optional)
-- chopped cilantro (optional)


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap corn tortillas in aluminum foil and place on top rack to warm up. This is a personal preference thing. Our tortillas had been in the fridge so I wanted to soften and warm them a bit. 
  2. In a medium sauce pan, heat beans, 3 tbsp of water, cumin, chili powder and juice of 1/2 a lime. Stir occasionally until it starts to simmer. Mash beans into a chunky consistency and cook for another 2 minutes. Cover and remove from heat. 
  3. Add butter to a pan over medium heat. Once melted, carefully crack eggs into pan, leaving yolks intact. Cook until they reach your desired doneness. Mine took about 3-4 minutes, but we like them runny. 
  4. Remove tortillas from oven. Place one on a plate. Top with beans and then eggs. Add your desired sauces and toppings (guac, salsa, sour cream, cheese, cilantro, salt, pepper)
  5. Enjoy! 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 in Photos

December 31, 2013

January-March 2013

April-June 2013

July-September 2013

October-December 2013