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Monday, May 31, 2010

Health and Happiness

Can you have happiness without health? I'm inclined to think you cannot. It is well documented in academic literature that chronic pain and illness is associated with mental health problems. Just having a bad cold or the stomach flu for a few days is enough to convince me that you need your health to be happy. Big A passed the stomach flu to Little A who passed it to me. I haven't eaten since yesterday morning, I threw up last night, got up at 4:30am this morning to go to the bathroom and fainted on the way back to bed, banging my head on the bedroom door. After feeding Big A her breakfast this morning, I threw up again. I am sure that I will feel better by tomorrow but I am still miserable today. I can't eat, I can't exercise and I can't enjoy playing with my kids. Some of the things that give me the greatest pleasure in life are taken away, even momentarily, and it is hard to be happy. I am thankful that Sherma, who doesn't normally work for us on Mondays, was available to come help me today or I don't know what I'd do. Kids just don't get it when you are sick, they still expect you to take care of them just the same as if you were healthy.

Given how important it is to be strong and healthy, I am always puzzled by people who show little regard for their bodies. Why anyone today would choose to smoke cigarettes, for example is beyond me. You have one body, one life, one chance. Blow it and that's it folks. So here is my advice, which is really nothing you haven't heard before:

Don't smoke
Eat a healthy diet based on fruits, veggies, whole grains and lean proteins
Avoid processed foods
Get enough good quality sleep
Wear sunscreen
Exercise
Spend time with loved ones
Do something as a profession and/or hobby that gives you fulfillment

Now excuse me while I go sip some ginger ale...

Saturday, May 29, 2010

One Flu Over the Cuckoo's Nest

On Wednesday the doctor was not overly concerned about Big A's potty issues and felt they were likely psychological/reaction to having a baby in the house. But she took a urine sample anyways just in case. I dropped it off yesterday and they didn't call us yet so I am assuming all is well in that department. By Thursday Big A had her usual appetite again and seems to have bounced back from the stomach flu. Unfortunately, Little A threw up yesterday and had some diarrhea so she obviously has it now. Sigh! The timing couldn't be worse as my 91 year old grandmother and my uncle are visiting from NYC, and were so excited to spend time with the kids. Little A is still sleeping so I'm hoping when she gets up today she's better. Otherwise all of our weekend plans will be mixed up. Nevermind that Adam is going to Montreal for a conference tomorrow so I'll be alone with the girls until Wednesday. I just hope I don't sick with the flu. I wonder at what age your kids have to be before the family can all stay healthy for more than a week at a time???

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Orange Ginger Stir Fry

You can make this using chicken, tofu, beef, seafood or black beans. Easy and yummy.

1 lb boneless chicken or beef or 500g tofu or 1 can black beans
750 grams frozen stir fry veggies (in a pinch) OR your favorite mix of veggies such as:
1 broccoli, cut in bite size pieces
2 red/yellow/orange peppers, cut in strips
2 dozen mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced

Sauce:
1/2 cup orange juice concentrate or juice and zest of 2 oranges
1/2 cup rice vinegar
2 tbls soy sauce
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp Chinese five spice powder
1 large knob ginger, grated
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbls corn starch
Hot chili flakes, to taste (optional)

For sauce, whisk together all ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Stir fry protein and veggies in a wok or large skillet(with a bit of peanut or canola oil if it is not non-stick). Add sauce and cook, stiring frequently, until sauce has thickened. Serve over brown rice.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Muscle Pumping Banana Protein Muffins

I don't usually do much "low carb" cooking as we love our carbs in this house. But Adam is always looking for new filling breakfast ideas as he eats at 5:30am and ends up ravenous throughout the day while he is at work. I saw this recipe on the Oxygen magazine recipe forum and thought I'd try it. I altered it just a tiny bit and it still turned out. I have to say, it worked out really well...definitely better than the last recipe I tried from this forum (cottage cheese pureed with sugar free jello into a protein "mousse". It almost made me barf). Heavy-duty, weight-lifting, fitness buffs have some weird diet ideas! But these muffins are pretty good and Adam says they are very filling.

2 bananas, mashed
1 cup vanilla whey protein powder
1 cup egg whites
1/2 cup hot water
1 cup natural wheat bran
1/2 cup natural oat bran
4 packets stevia, Splenda, or other low calorie sweetener (I used organic Erythritol, brand name Organic Zero)
1 tbls baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients with a whisk until smooth. Fill 9 well greased muffin cups to the top. Bake for about 12-15 minutes (do not overbake).

Monday, May 24, 2010

Wee Wee Wee, All The Way Home

I am the first one to admit I am a chronic worrier, but this time I am REALLY worried about Big A. A few weeks ago she started having accidents at night. At first I didn't catch on because she would say mommy my underwear is wet because I was so sweaty and I believed her because I am a sweaty sleeper and she generally is warm all the time like I am. But then I smelled her sheets and realized that was no sweat, that was pee! Then she had a poo accident at daycare one day last week...even the teachers were shocked since she has been toilet trained since she turned 2 (she was wearing underwear at her second birthday party). This weekend she had accidents Saturday and Sunday night and today while napping she had another and later while awake she had another (in a pull-up because we finally got tired of cleaning up). Now, granted, she came down with a bad stomach flu this weekend, but I don't think bed wetting is a typical symptom of gastroenteritis.

My friends told me to Google bedwetting, which, of course, turned out to be a mistake. I found out that it is more common in boys and that if accidents happen during the day, that's something to worry about and kidney problems and neurological disorders are possibilities. HOLY @#*%&^! I consulted my sister-in-law, the physician, however, and she reassured me that this is not uncommon, that girls often get distracted during the day and simply don't want to go to the bathroom right away. And bedwetting at night is generally a common problem. So I'm trying to stay calm. Fortunately, we have a doctor appointment for Big A on Wednesday.

I'm actually hoping it's a psychological problem, maybe related to the jealousy of Little A. Tonight she asked if she could, "Drink milk from my booby." She's asked many times before and I finally said she could. She did for a split second and told me it was yummy and asked if I would pump some for her tomorrow. I said, "No, booby milk is for babies and big girls need to eat big girl food." The accidents have succeeded in freaking Adam and I out (Adam has already decided that she is going to still be wearing pull-ups in September so she's going to get made fun of by all the other kids at school), so maybe she is just using it to get our attention, or to make herself more like Little A? This actually seems preferable to a medical problem. Either way though, we've got something to worry about. I can't wait to speak to her doctor on Wednesday and hopefully get some answers...

Friday, May 21, 2010

Undivided Attention

P1: It looks like I will just have to fill out some confidentiality agreements in order to get permission to counsel at Mount Sinai...as well as the small task of passing our research proposal through the hospital's ethics board. Anyone who has tried to get a research proposal approved by an ethics board will know I'm being sarcastic there. I had some unsavoury dealings with the ethics board at the University of Toronto while doing my PhD and I've heard that those at other universities are similar. I was simply administering a paper-and-pencil survey to adult volunteers about body image, and eating and exercise attitudes and behaviours. But from the reaction of the ethics board, you'd think I was proposing to administer cocaine to babies. Anyhow, hopefully we will get our project approved without much trouble.

P2: Big A has been behaving MUCH better the past two weeks. One thing I am trying hard to do is make time for just the two of us. Now that Little A is walking and all over the place, it is really tough for me to give Big A undivided attention. Last weekend I sent Adam out to do errands on Sunday with Little A while Big A and I pulled dandelions out of the front yard and cleaned up the garden. We had a great time and she was very cooperative afterwards about eating her lunch and then going down for her nap before Adam and Little A even got home. This weekend Adam is in Boston for a conference so I arranged for my in-laws to take Little A for the day so that I can pick up Big A from her gymnastics class and then take her to the mall for lunch and shopping. I don't know who's more excited, Big A or me. When she is cooperating, it really is more enjoyable to be with her than with Little A simply because we can converse. Little A still has only one word: "HI". Its very cute but it makes it pretty difficult to have any meaningful conversations at this stage. Big A, on the other hand, asks me very interesting questions and comes up with ideas that often blow me away. Of course, I'm not at all biased when I say I think she is utterly brilliant at age 4 already.

F1: Since Adam is away, I treated myself to a delicious, un-Kosher meal that I could never share with him...pulled pork and beans from a local BBQ restaurant. Mmmm, so good! Oink!

F2: My yin yoga class did not do the trick in loosening up my muscles after my Brazilian Butt Lift class yesterday so I tried an old yoga video at home today. Still no luck. I'm beginning to think that the ache in my glutes is the sciatica which I had while pregnant with Little A coming back. Yuck! I guess these things start happening more often once you get past 35.

This week on May 19, it was our 8 year anniversary! Adam and I have been together 10years. I can't believe it. I was 25 and he was 23 when we first started dating. So young...Unfortunately, we don't have the opportunity to celebrate for another month until we could find a Saturday when we were free, Adam isn't away for work and my in-laws are available to babysit. But I can't wait, we are going to have couple's massages at a nice spa in Yorkville and then lunch and a movie. Yipee!!!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Malaysian Chicken Curry

I made this for dinner tonight and couldn't wait to post it. Mmm! I got the curry powder blend in Kensington Market at House of Spice, I can't say where you'd find it in another city. One of the benefits of living in Toronto! You could probably make this one with tofu or shrimp if you don't want to use chicken. I couldn't find my Kaffir lime leaves so I made without, so don't worry if you don't have any. I wonder where mine could be???

1 tsp peanut oil
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, breasts or ground chicken
1 large onion, diced
1 large knob fresh ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbls Malaysian curry powder
2 roma tomatos, diced
2 tbls fish sauce
2 Kaffir lime leaves
1 can light coconut milk
Cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)

Brown chicken in oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, ginger and garlic and cook until onion is tender. Add tomatoes and curry powder and cook for another 5 minutes. Add fish sauce, lime leaves and coconut milk. Season to taste with cayenne, if you want, for some heat. Simmer about 30 minutes.

Serve over brown rice.

I actually added a half head of thinly sliced cabbage because I love one pot meals and I love green vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, etc.) simmered in a rich sauce. But I don't think that's authentic, so you could always just serve a vegetable side dish with this meal (a cucumber salad would go well, for example).

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Who Took the Wind Out of My Sails?

P1: So after going nuts this weekend and writing up almost the entire research proposal, including consent form and questionnaires for Mount Sinai, Dr. M sent a message saying she has to check with a few people to ensure that we are not violating any patient-contact rules. Yikes! What if we can't do it? What if they won't even let me have any contact with the women? That will be far worse for me than if they won't let us go ahead with the research piece. Blech!

P2: Big A has been so much better the past few days. Adam thinks she's turned the page but admits we will likely have many more down turns. But for right now, things are pretty good. Although, she did call me a big fat pig last night. Adam and I were shocked and wanted her to tell us where she heard that. If kids at daycare are saying that to one another, we want to know! She admitted hearing it at daycare but wouldn't say from who. We told her it was very mean to say bad things about someone's appearance but I wonder if this doesn't sort of send a bad message. We have no labelled being fat as a bad thing. These things all get so complicated when you start to overthink them! On the bright side, it didn't really upset me or make me question whether I really am fat the way it would if an adult said it. I'm not even certain she knows what fat means.

I am trying to make more of an effort to have quality time with Big A, because she doesn't get much from me when Little A is around (since I have to chase her constantly to make sure she doesn't fall and crack her head open!). So on Sunday, we gardened together while Adam took Little A to Costco and Home Depot. We had a great time and then she was even willing to eat her lunch and go down for an early nap before Adam and Little A got home.

Little A is refusing her afternoon nap a lot now. Sometimes she is okay but other times she ends up a mess by the evening, like Sunday night when Adam was out at his book club. Little A screamed for about an hour before I got her down at 7:30pm. She is also still driving us nuts with the food throwing. Saturday we attempted
to buy the girls dinner out and it was a disaster. Little A threw everything on the floor, refused to eat anything and then screamed. Adam had to walk her around the mall until Big A, who also didn't eat her dinner, was ready to go (she was more interested in drawing with the crayons they gave her). But Little A is currently obsessed with cottage cheese and pineapple. Weird, weird kid...

F1: Crumbles are a great way to take advantage of seasonal fruit and make a fairly healthy dessert. You can use virtually any fruits or a combination. Good ones include apples, pears, peaches, plums, apricots, berries, etc. You can also jazz it up by adding candied or crystalized ginger, dried fruit and/or citrus zest. You can also add sliced or slivered almonds into the topping for extra crunch. I don't add much sugar, relying on the sweetness of the fruit. Here is a basic recipe:

8 cups of fruit, chopped
2 cups quick oats
6 tbls whole wheat flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
4 tbls unsalted butter

Mix fruit with 2 tbls of the flour (and any dried fruit or other add ins you are using) and dump into a large greased baking dish (like Corningware). Mix oats, flour, sugar and cinnamon and cut in butter with fork until crumbly. Pour mixture over fruit. Cover with foil and bake about 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking about 10 minutes or until fruit is tender and topping is golden.


F2: Exercise of the Week: Plank on a stability ball

You may be familiar with the plank, which is an excellent exercise to strengthen your core muscles, particularly the transverse abdominus. But once you get comfortable with the plank, try to make it a bit more challenging by placing your arms on a stability ball.

See link for detailed instructions and image:

http://www.google.ca/imgres?imgurl=http://static.howstuffworks.com/gif/core-abdominal-and-lower-back-exercises-28.jpg&imgrefurl=http://health.howstuffworks.com/core-abdominal-and-lower-back-exercises11.htm&h=328&w=400&sz=29&tbnid=qq_5xNcGZNThuM:&tbnh=102&tbnw=124&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dplank%2Bon%2Bstability%2Bball%2Bimages&hl=en&usg=__3dCV1vqtR9zPJPCY4aEp_0xO1ro=&ei=wavyS4vAL8Sclgeol_n-DA&sa=X&oi=image_result&resnum=1&ct=image&ved=0CBgQ9QEwAA

Friday, May 14, 2010

Spring Pasta

This is tonight's dinner. After a week of crappy weather it was beautiful and warm today, making a springy meal seem appropriate. I usually use walnuts for pesto because I hate pinenuts, but I had none today so I used almonds instead. I can't add cheese to my pesto since Adam hates it, so I have to add mine to my pasta afterwards.

Pasta with Asparagus, Portobello Mushrooms and Pesto

Pesto

142g (5oz) fresh organic baby spinach
Big bunch fresh basil leaves, carefully washed and stems removed
1/2 cup walnuts or roasted almonds
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, fresh or pre-grated
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice or juice and zest of 1 lemon
2-4 garlic cloves (depending on your tolerance for garlic)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Throw everything in blender until you pureed. Add more oil as needed to reach desired consistency. Place any leftover pesto in ice cube tray in freezer over night. Place cubes in ziploc bag and remove whenever you need some pesto.

Pasta

1 lb whole wheat penne or rotini (or any short pasta)
4 large portobellos, stem ends removed, sliced thinly
1 lb fresh asparagus, stalks trimmed, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced

Cook pasta according to directions on package.

Saute veggies in oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and continue cooking, until veggies are tender. When pasta is cooked, stir in about a cup or so of pesto and the veggies. Serves 4 (or 2-3 people in this house!).

Jackpot!

I am so excited right now I could burst!

I had my meeting with Dr. M today at Mount Sinai to discuss my volunteer position at the hospital. It went better than I ever dreamed it would! She actually wants us to work together on making my position (and the issue of providing support resources to women following miscarriage) into a research study! She is going to get me appointed as her research assistant, rather than a volunteer, and we are going to try and get the data published in a peer reviewed journal. She also connected me with Andrea, the head of first trimester care at the hospital, who is often one of the first to see women who have just been told they lost their pregnancy. She said there was a high demand for my services and was very excited to have me on board. She was also eager to collaborate on the research side of things.

Of course now I feel incredibly under pressure because I have to write up the research proposal and ethics board submission and I also feel like I have to live up to some high expectations. Dr. M. is a Harvard trained physician who is unbelievably accomplished. She seems to have a lot of confidence in me and I am desperately scared of letting her down. If I succeed, this could make my future career. If I fail, I may be doing nothing but teaching Brazilian Butt Lift classes for the rest of my life...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Inner & Outer Beauty

I promised myself that if I ever had daughters, I would do everything possible to make them believe that outer beauty doesn't matter, that it's only what's on the inside that counts. Ha! Like so many other parenting goals I've had, I think I've failed. Big A has watched me a hundred times in the morning applying my makeup. She often asks why I put it on and I really don't know how to answer. I'm not going to say, "Because I think I look ugly without it." Disparaging ourselves can be almost as harmful to our children as disparaging them. So I haven't quite figured that one out. The other issue is that, let's face it, the unfortunate reality of our world is that our outer appearance DOES matter and it matters a lot. We are judged by our appearance, and as parents, we feel we are judged on the basis of our childrens' appearance too. Big A could be the best dressed 4 year old on the planet due to the generosity of her grandparents, however, given her oppositional nature, I can rarely get her out the door without either food stains on her clothes (she loves to annoy me by wiping her dirty face and hands on her clean clothes), her buttons, snaps or zippers undone, or her hair unbrushed. She also tends to like to insist on wearing clothes that are too small for her (especially items of clothes she had no interest in when they fit her) or don't match. To my chagrin, her favorite clothes are ratty shorts and t-shirts.

I can't help but worry what other people are thinking at these moments and so I can't resist trying to get her to let me brush her hair, or wipe the stains off her clothes or find socks or shoes that match her outfit better. It's like an impulse I can't control and, yet, what message am I sending her? Certainly not the message that appearances don't matter. I think I'm also worried she'll get teased because kids can be really mean. A few months ago a girl at daycare criticized her hair because it was messy and unbrushed. Big A seemed upset about it so I spoke to one of the teachers and she spoke to the girl. It did encourage Big A to occasionally let me do her hair in pigtails, etc., but most days she is still happy going out with a rats-nest (she goes to sleep most nights with wet hair after her bath). Perhaps that's a good sign indicating that she really doesn't care that much what other people think. If so, I hope it stays that way.

I decided to stay for a yoga class at TAC today after teaching my Brazilian Butt Lift class. I have been pretty sore the last few weeks after teaching it and I'm really trying to fit in a yoga class weekly, so this was perfect. It was called "Yin Yoga" and it was basically hatha yoga poses held for a very long time (so in an hour class we only did about 8 poses). It was just what I needed and the instructor did the pigeon pose, which is one of my favorites. The room also has huge windows (38 stories up in this highrise) with a fantastic view of the CN Tower and the Toronto waterfront. Even with the rain today, it was spectacular and such a nice space to do yoga. I think every workplace should offer lunchtime yoga, it's so therapeutic.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Same old, same old

P1: Things are going relatively smoothly with my work these days. I got an A+ in my Theories of Personality course, I am working away on my current Psychological Assessment course and I begin my Infertility counselling course through UofT Continuing Ed tomorrow. I have also just finished a third (and hopefully final!) draft of the presentation on fitness I am giving for Proactive Movement on June 29th, the corporate fitness company that hired me to give seminars. Most importantly, I am meeting with Dr. M at Mount Sinai to discuss setting up my volunteer position. I am still worried she'll cancel on me or when I come to talk to her she'll have decided that it's not going to work out. But hopefully that's just me being my usual crazy-worrier self. I am so excited to begin the volunteering but I have realized that once I begin, things are going to be even MORE hectic than they are now. Nevertheless, this is probably one of the most important things I can do for my future career development.

P2: I could go on ad nauseum about how frustrated I am with Big A right now but you've heard it all before. We had the same stupid fight this morning that I've been having with her every morning since she was 18 months old: doesn't want to go to daycare, doesn't want to put on her shoes or socks, doesn't want to wear a coat, etc., etc. And the irony is how often I show up to get her at the end of the day and she accuses me of coming too early and wants to stay longer and play. So I know it's not because there is a problem at daycare. It's the whole "transitions" thing. Transitioning Big A from sleep to wake, from home to out, from wake to sleep, these are always the times for battles, which from what I understand, is pretty normal for kids. But I am so tired of battling with her every day over this stuff, it's been over 2 years of this crap! And yet I know that somehow this must be partly my fault, or so I'm told. I'm apparently not mean enough, consistent enough, staying calm enough, etc. It's not like I'm not trying but it is so much harder than it sounds. Sherma reminded me today that ignoring is one of the best ways to get kids to stop their bad behaviour. This has worked in the past, but somehow I can't remember to do it every time. So I vow here, right now, to try and ignore her antics (consistently) starting tomorrow. We'll see if this works...

F1: Here is the recipe for the vegetarian sandwiches I made for the birthday party last weekend. They were a hit with the grown-ups. I'm also including the mini-pizza recipe I made for the kids. Even Little A ate a few bites of a pizza (before throwing the rest on the floor).

Hummus and Roasted Veggie Wraps

2 cups of your favorite hummus, homemade or store-bought
500 ml jar roasted eggplant (drain and let dry a bit on paper towel), or 1 homemade roasted eggplant
500 ml jar roasted red peppers (drain and let dry a bit on paper towel) or 4 homemade roasted peppers
6 10 inch whole wheat flax wraps

Spread wraps generously with hummus and on one end place some eggplant and pepper in a vertical line. Fold in the ends of the wrap toward the line of veggies and then starting at the end where you placed the veggies, role up. Slice in half and place a toothpick in each half.

Mini Pizzas for Kids

10 soft, mini whole grain pitas (no pocket necessary)
1 can organic tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 cup finely chopped spinach (optional)
About 1.5 cups shredded mozza and cheddar cheese
Toppings of your choice (bbq chicken, sweet peppers, etc.)

Place tomato paste in saucepan with I can full of water, garlic and oregano. Stir and heat over low heat for about 10-15 minutes. Turn off heat. Spread sauce over pitas and sprinkle with cheese. Top with your kids' favorite toppings. If your kids are like mine and won't eat any veggies on their pizza, try hiding some chopped spinach in the tomato sauce before spreading on pita. Bake on cookie sheet at 425 for 10-12 minutes.

F2: Make fitness a priority. If you don't have the time or money to join a gym, there is always the great outdoors or your own home. There are lots of good fitness DVDs out there these days. Don't make excuses...make it like brushing your teeth, part of your daily routine!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Quite a Feet

So after advising all my readers to replace your athletic shoes regularly, I have not been taking my own advice. I usually replace my shoes every January but I somehow forgot this year. Since my parents were here this past weekend, Adam and I were able to sneak out after the birthday party on Saturday and do some errands and I finally got my new shoes. What a difference they made for my treadmill walk this morning! Never underestimate the importance of your feet. Where would you be without them?

I've also been falling behind in providing an exercise of the week. So here's one of my favs that doesn't require any fancy equipment or a gym. Heck, if you don't have free weights, just use soup cans (preferably a nice thick, heavy soup like lentil or something. It's excellent for strengthening the rear shoulders and upper back. Try to do at least 2 sets of 15 reps. Start with 5 lbs and try to increase from there as you get stronger.

Reverse Fly



Oh, and here's a recipe I'm making this week. Easy and yummy.

Sausage and Greens

1 tsp olive oil
1 lb spicy Italian turkey sausage (or veggie sausage or any sausage you like), cut in bite size pieces
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 head kale, chopped with course stalks removed
1 large can ground tomatoes
chili flakes, to taste (optional)

Saute sausage in oil over medium heat until cooked through. Add onion and cook until it has some colour. Add garlic, fennel seeds and kale and cook for another 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and chili, if using and simmer at least 15 minutes. Serve over pasta, rice or quinoa.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day Mayhem

Well it was quite the weekend...there was good, there was bad and there was just plain ugly.

My parents arrived Friday to help us celebrate the girls' birthdays yesterday. Big A was very excited about her best friend Grace coming for the party. Unfortunately, she was so excited, she decided she ONLY wanted to play with Grace and she wouldn't let my niece, Sofia, play with them, because Sofia is 18 months younger and not yet a "big big girl". This led to many tears (it still breaks my heart to think about my poor, sweet niece's hurt feelings!)and my brother and sister-in-law were not at all impressed. but Big A was unwaivering in her stance. She only wanted to play with Grace and her dolls in her bedroom. These situations are always so ackward. We feel our children are a reflection of ourselves, so, of course, we are embarrassed and ashamed when they exhibit poor behaviour. But what I realized later is that she was only willing to pull this stunt because she thinks of Sofia almost as her own sister...I don't think she would have pulled this with another child. But that is not much consolation for poor Sofia nor for her parents who might simply feel that Big A is a rotten child or that we are rotten parents, or both.

And maybe both are true, but it is also true that the Green Eyed Monster has taken over Big A. She is absolutely consumed with jealousy now. When she thinks we're not looking, she pinches, hits or pushes Little A. So likely anyone who takes away attention from her (including Little A and all her cousins) is viewed as a threat.

Today we celebrated Mother's Day. The good is that both girls slept in - Big A until 7:20am, Little A until 7:50am, just after I'd left the house to go to the gym and teach my spinning class. Never mind the fact that neither Adam nor I slept well last night. The point is, it was the first Sunday morning in weeks that I wasn't woken up around 6am to wipe a butt!

After Little A woke up from her morning nap, we went to the Yorkdale mall where Adam, his parents and the girls had lunch at Pickle Barrel while I went on my annual Mother's Day shopping spree. It was so much fun and very successful this year. I got a dress at H&M, a bunch of tops and a great discovery: Old Navy Kids is a great place to buy jeans if you're short. I got 2 pairs in different colours and they were so so cheap.

And the bad. Little A is eating worse than ever these days and this weekend was no exception. Every day she changes her mind about what she likes, but lately she seems to like almost nothing. She also didn't take an afternoon nap today. Big A took a good afternoon nap when we got back from the mall but when she woke up, she was absolutely miserable. Now, this is not entirely unusual, however, its been a while since we've had an episode this bad. She just woke up screaming and wouldn't snap out of it. Adam wanted to go visit his grandmother but Big A wouldn't get dressed. Finally, we decided that Adam would go with Little A and I would stay home with Big A. At the last second just before Adam pulled away in the car, Big A freaked out and said she wanted to go. Shoes went on and we all went to visit Adam's grandparents.

The visit started out fine. Both girls played happily but when Adam's grandmother offered to feed the girls dinner the trouble started. Big A rejected each option she was offered. Then she got sullen and said she was hungry but she refused to go home. Somehow we got everyone into the car at which point Big A became relatively subdued and Little A started wailing and basically wailed the whole way home. The day ended with Little A eating almost no dinner, Big A eating a decent one and then both of them going to sleep without much resistance.

Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Healthy Birthday Cupcakes

I let Big A choose what kind of cupcakes she wanted for her party this weekend. To my surprise (and delight!), she chose a very healthy recipe. My friend Nicole made it as a cake for her son's birthday a few months ago and when I brought some home to share with Big A, she decided it was what she wanted for her cupcakes. Nicole got the recipe from my friend Liv and made some modifications and I made quite a few bit more (since I always tinker with recipes...). Big A and I made them tonight and they turned out great (We tested one and even Little A, who barely ate anything today, really liked it!). We are going to add cream cheese icing to them, which I think will make them even better. Big A did a great job of helping me make them, aside from spilling some of the oil and mashed bananas on the counter. She filled the Winnie-the-Pooh paper muffin cups and made almost no mess!

Healthy Cupcakes

3.5 cups organic spelt flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt
6 mashed, ripe bananas
1 540 ml can crushed pineapple, with juice
2 eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup molasses
2 tbls lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix dry ingredients. Whisk wet ingredients together in seperate bowl. Add to dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Fill muffin cups full and bake at 350 degrees for 22 minutes. Makes 2 dozen cupcakes. Serve plain or ice with icing flavour of your choice (I recommend cream cheese, vanilla or banana).

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Waste Not, Want Not and Economical Snacks

This first week following the end of my mat leave has zipped by. Probably because I am so busy and there has been zero down time. I had my volunteer orientation at Mount Sinai hospital and Adam and I did our CPR recert course. I have been furiously working on my course assignment for school and I taught the Brazilian Butt Lift class on my own for the first time (and was in complete agony the next day in my lower half!). Wow! The good news is that Little A seems to have adjusted to Sherma watching her very quickly and already she seems more independent. I guess she's finally realized that mommy and daddy can go away and they will always come back again. I think she's also just having a great time with Sherma. They're a good match.

Unfortunately, Big A has been very challenging this week. The mornings have been especially hard. Yesterday in particular. This brings me to the topic of wasting. If there is one thing I hate, it is wastage. Adam and I are both pretty frugal and we try to be environmentally conscious but it seems like wastage of consumable products when you have children is inevitable. Kids are oddly drawn to tissue and toilet paper and seem to just love overusing both. And the amount of food that goes to waste when you have children is just sickening. Yesterday morning Big A was up very early so Adam poured her a big bowl of cereal before he left for work. I have often tried to pour her a small bowl of cereal and she will whine for more, even if you promise you will pour her another bowl later. Anyways, the bowl was barely touched 15 minutes later, so I urged her to keep eating. She complained that it was soggy and said she wanted something else. I grudgingly threw out the cereal and gave her the hunk of cheese she said she wanted. After 2 bites, she said she was super full and couldn't eat anymore. Yet when we were about to leave for daycare, she complained that she was starving and wanted a banana. Sigh! I should also add that she went to daycare without shoes or socks on because she was fighting me on absolutely everything. It was ugly.

The wastage of food with Little A is also frightening. You can never predict when she is going to go from eating something to squeezing it between her fingers and throwing it on the floor. It makes me crazy. An article on food wastage in the Toronto Star a while ago said that something like 30% of the food we purchase gets thrown out, even if it's still perfectly fine for consumption. It's really disgusting but I have yet to figure out a way to deal with it in terms of feeding children. Adam and I certainly don't waste much so I entirely blame my kids.

Being careful with spending is on my mind a lot lately seeing as my mat leave is over and I resigned (officially) from my corporate job last week. I now have very little income plus hefty tuition and book fees. One of our major expenses, of course, is food for the household, especially because we like to eat healthy food and lots of fresh fruits and veggies. Adam grumbled when he came home from the market last week about having to spend $12 on plums for me. I will admit I tend to eat a LOT of fruits and veggies. It is recommended that you consume 10 servings a day and honestly I think some days I get closer to 15 or 20. I can munch through a pound of baby carrots in just a few minutes and I tend to eat several pieces of fruit at once when I'm snacking. And dinner is almost always chock full of veggies (except if we're having "breakfast for dinner" in which case I include a couple servings of fruit). Although I think snacking on fruits and veggies is great, I realized my habit was costing us a lot and probably taking my daily fibre consumption a bit beyond what is reasonable...so I decided that several days a week I am going to swap one of my daily snacks (I almost always have 3 meals and 2 snacks), for something cheaper. I figured a healthy protein is probably a good alternative so I was going to go with hard boiled eggs, but Adam pointed out a new product at the grocery store: Satisfaction yogurt, fortified with extra fibre and protein to keep you satisfied between meals. You get 6 tubs for about $4.69, which is very expensive for yogurt, and I'm not really a huge yogurt fan but its a lot cheaper than some of my fruit binges (I've been known to eat $10 worth of cherries in one sitting - they are one of my all-time favorite foods). So I decided to try it, figuring 2 tubs would make a reasonable snack for me. One tub is 80 calories, 8 grams of protein and 2 grams of fibre. So I have to say, it wasn't bad. And I did make it from breakfast to lunch without feeling super hungry, although I had less of an appetite this week anyways because I was so stressed about all of my school work. But I think I may eventually start boiling up a bunch of eggs to snack on over the week seeing as you can get a dozen omega 3s for about $3.49.