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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Weight of the World

P1: I did my presentation today for the corporate fitness company and, thankfully, it went really well. None of the lawyers at this lawfirm showed up, of course, but all their assistants did, so I had a full room. The were engaged and asked lots of questions and gave me excellent assessments on the assessment forms, so I can't ask for more than that. But I'm pretty tired now...probably the adrenaline drop that follows an anxiety-provoking event, and also may have something to do with the fact that I cycled there and back (about 30 minutes each way) with a 10 lb weight in my knapsack. B., who runs the company thought I should bring it along so I could get audience members to demonstrate certain things using a real weight. Fortunately, the next time I give this seminar, I believe it's outside the city so I'll have to take the car. In that case, maybe I'll bring a 15 lb weight instead.

P2: Following her exciting trip to Canada's Wonderland on Sunday, Big A has been...difficult, to say the least. The mornings have been tough this week and yesterday she had a major tantrum from the moment we left daycare until about 7pm last night (so about 90 minutes long!). She claimed afterwards that it was triggered by a situation at daycare earlier when none of the other kids would play with her, and her best friend G., was not there. I have a hard time believing this since she has never had problems like that before and she was happily playing with the other kids when I came to get her. She also told us she got nothing but bread and water for lunch...until Adam called her bluff and said he knew that was not possible. She then admitted that the daycare had also served meatballs, veggies, fruit, cookies and milk.

Little A has been delightful lately with the exception of her eating. She is eating enough, that's not the problem. The problem is the throwing. Regardless of whether she is sitting in her booster chair, high chair, standing or walking with her food. As soon as she doesn't want it anymore she whips it across the room. She made abstract art on the walls of the kitchen yesterday with her yogurt, this morning she threw handfuls of banana almond-butter porridge all over the kitchen, she throws cheese, fruit and basically whatever she is eating and is done with. In fact, if she sees food sitting anywhere she can reach it, even if she wasn't eating it to begin with, she will throw it. Mashing is another favorite activity of hers. She loves squeezing bananas and other soft foods into a paste before she throws them. Yesterday she chewed up some apple, then spit out the pieces on to the floor and then picked them up and threw them! To say Adam and I are getting frustrated is an understatement. I also worry she's going to get expelled from daycare when she starts in the fall because of this behaviour. It's really driving us nuts and I'm getting sick of cleaning peanut butter, banana, cheese and fruit smears off of every surface of the house.

F1: Here is a great recipe to make with your kids. It's easy, super healthy and the kids love them. I let Big A help me fill the molds and she was over the moon.

Strawberry Banana Popsicles

12-18 popsicle molds and sticks (depends on how big they are)

1 pint hulled organic strawberries
1 ripe banana
1 tbls lemon juice

Throw fruit and lemon juice in blender and puree until smooth. Fill popsicle molds and freeze for a few hours. Turn upside down and run molds under hot water to pull out popsicles.

F2: Exercise of the Week: Reverse Crunch (for abdominals)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Me and My Shadow

Get this: Little A is TERRIFIED of her shadow. Everytime she sees it, she bends down to try and touch it and gets hysterical. What an oddball she is!

The Found Shoe

P1: 95% on week 2s assignments for my psychopathology course. Considering the weekly assignments count for 50% of the final grade, I'm starting to feel pretty confident that I'll do okay. Not to mention I'm two-thirds of the way through my final paper and I think it's going pretty well.

What I'm nervous about is my presentation for the corporate fitness company next Tuesday. I met with the CEO this week and it turns out that I totally misunderstood what was going to happen. I thought we were collaboratively giving the talk but it turns out it's just me, she won't even be there. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I may actually be less stressed because I won't feel like I am being scrutinized by her. She wants the talk to be very informal, which I think is a good idea but also makes me feel a bit funny. I am supposed to wear fitness clothing, since the topic is fitness, and make the whole thing very interactive with the audience. The client is a corporate law firm so everyone will be in suits and we are going to be in a formal conference room. I just hope I don't come across like a bimbo.

P1: So on the way to daycare this morning, Big A shouts, "Hey mommy, look at what I found!" just as we got around the corner from our street. "Yeh, yeh", I said, not paying attention to what she was saying. "Look, it's Little A's missing shoe, I found it, I found it!" I doubled back and realized that she was right, there was the shoe all along, not on Concord Ave, where I thought we'd dropped it, but like 2 minutes from our house. Unfortunately, I'd already thrown away the other shoe from that pair and gone out and bought brand new ones. For that, I got lectured by Big A. "But mommy, why did you throw it out, we just had to look a little harder and we found the missing shoe." I couldn't really argue with that logic...

Last night Big A had her first real playdate (a drop-off playdate where a friend comes without her parents). I picked up Big A and her best friend G from daycare yesterday and brought them home to have supper together. It was great because they entertained themselves. Adam took Little A to the market and then gave her a bath to keep her out of the way since Big A made it clear there were no little sisters allowed. The girls played happily in Big A's room until dinner was ready and then ate their dinner on the back patio. Unfortunately, after they finished eating, they dumped several litres of bubble liquid all over the deck. I tried cleaning it up best I could but I fear if it rains anytime soon the whole neighbourhood will be engulfed in a giant bubble. Then we waited out on the front porch for G's parents to pick her up. The girls were drawing with sidewalk chalk and discovered they could colour themselves with it. My warnings to stop and request to clean them up fell on deaf ears so that by the time G's parents arrived both girls were covered head to toe in pink chalk.

F1: I would like to extol the virtues of the humble peanut butter sandwich for a moment, please indulge me. Most people like PB with J, I however, will only eat it with honey. And not just any honey. Creamed honey, the thick kind. PB&H sandwiches are one of my favorite treats in the world. I say treat because (1) I have to eat 2 at at time, and (2) the way I make them they are probably at least 600 cals each. Here are my suggestions for the perfect PB&H sandwich:

Start with 2 pieces of soft, fresh, 100% whole wheat bread (make sure there is NO refined/white flour in your bread, that stuff is sick). My favorite is Country Harvest brand 100% whole wheat). Spread a thin layer of PB (or another nut butter - hazelnut butter & H is also fantastic) on each piece of bread right to each corner (no bare spots!). Glob on creamy honey (try different kinds, some of the dark honeys like buckwheat are fabulous and more nutritious). I probably use at least 4 tablespoons of honey per sandwich so that it oozes out the sides and dribbles down my hand as I eat it. I always make a fresh green salad with my 2 (yes 2) sandwiches to make if feel like a healthy dinner. And actually these sandwiches are nutritious, especially if you go easy on the honey, but I could never do that. When I eat these sandwiches the pleasure receptors in my brain start to buzz and all is good in the world momentarily. Yum, yum, yum!!!

F2: My sciatica is driving me crazy. The good news is that it is impervious to my workout schedule, the bad news is that walking to and from Big A's daycare and sitting in the car or at my desk hurts the most. These are variables in my life I can't change.

My big achievement this week is I've made it to 8 chin-ups! So now I do one set of 8chin-ups and then about 3 more sets of 5 chin-ups. My goal is eventually to do 15 reps. One day I'll get there!

Exercise of the week:

Hammer biceps curl

Follow link for instructions: http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/Brachioradialis/DBHammerCurl.html

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Missing Shoe

Okay, give me the "Worst Mother of the Year" award.

Yesterday on our way home from picking up Big A at daycare, Big A grabbed Little A's foot in the stroller and pulled her shoe off. Because it was disgustingly hot and humid I was feeling pissy and decided to just throw her shoe under the stroller. When we got home, said shoe was missing. Big A and Adam hopped in the car and drove up and down the street looking for the shoe but to no avail. I was beyond frustrated because it is the only pair of shoes we have that fit her aside from white patent leather Mary Janes that Big A wore once to my sister-on-law's wedding. So this morning, since Adam took Big A to my mother-in-law's for the day, I put Little A in the stroller and tried to re-trace our steps (she was none to happy to have to wear the Mary Janes!). When we were half way down the street, Little A threw the little container she was eating her breakfast out of and it rolled right under a parked car. As I crawled underneath the car to retrieve it, I heard someone running down the sidewalk behind me. I looked up to see a woman grabbing the stroller just as it was about to roll into the street in the path of a large van. OMG! After my heart flip-flopped, I thanked the woman, who smiled and walked away briskly...I am sure thinking to herself what an idiot I am!

This is the second time this week I have been shamed publicly because of my parenting skills (or lack thereof). Big A was having her usual tantrum as we left the house Monday morning. I had to drop off a form at her school where she starts in September and she didn't want to. So I decided to forget it and just take her straight to daycare but then she changed her mind and started screaming that she DID want to go to the school. On our way home after dropping off Big A at daycare, Little A and I went to the grocery store. A couple in front of me at the check-out bent down and started cooing at Little A in the stroller. Then the woman stood up and said, "So did she go to the school?". I was momentarily confused. I explained that Little A doesn't go to school yet. "No, your older daughter." She said. I realized she witnessed our fracas earlier and was mortified. She then asked how old Big A is and then said, "Wow, she's really loud in the morning." Well apparently the whole neighbourhood must hear Big A screaming because I didn't recognize this couple and I don't think they even live on our street. No wonder I often feel like my neighbours are giving me dirty looks...

Little A is so funny and peculiar. She has decided she will only eat cheese strings whole, out of the wrapper and bananas whole, out of the peel. Little pieces of cheese or banana won't do. I bought her new shoes to replace the old ones and a pair of sandals for the hot weather. Unfortunately, when I try to put the sandals on without socks she gets hysterical. So my little sweetie has that early 90s fashion look of socks and sandals on her feet. Big A became very particular about what she wears by 18 months. At just 14 months I fear that Little A may give her a run for her money. Adam and I are so in for it. As difficult as these early years are, I can only imagine what life is going to be like when the girls are both teenagers.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Balsamic Glazed Trout

This is easy and so delicious. You can use salmon instead of trout if you want.

1 lb fresh trout our salmon fillets

1/2 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
2 heaping tbls dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced

Heat vinegar over medium low heat and simmer until it reduces by about half. Remove from heat. Stir in mustard and garlic. If it is too thick, add a splash or two of additional balsamic vinegar. Brush onto fish and bake in over at 400 for 10-15 minutes (depending on the thickness of your fillets).

A New Era

P1: I am enjoying the material in my present course for school but I still think the prof is an a-hole. He did apologize to me for his gaffe of berating me for a supposedly poorly researched argument which actually belonged to one of my classmates. Nevertheless, he's still a twit.

Dr. M and I are just finalizing the details on all of our paper work for the Mount Sinai ethics board, so hopefully things with that will go smoothly.

Next week I have a practice run of my presentation with the boss at the corporate fitness company I am consulting with. The presentation is on June 29th and I'm a bit nervous. I don't know the boss's style nor do I know the audience. Fortunately, since it's on all stuff fitness, I feel pretty confident about the material itself.

P2: I feel like we've reached a new phase in our lives because Little A is a real toddler. No more baby. And no, I am not the least bit nostalgic. I am gleeful that I never have to deal with a newborn again, positively gleeful. It is also delightful to watch her develop into a real person. The best way to describe her kooky personality is that she is a fiesty little imp. Like Big A, she ain't no wallflower, nope, both my girls are precocious and strong-willed. Little A is currently obsessed with dolls and doll strollers. Thank goodness Big A has 2 doll strollers! They play together and it is adorable. It amazes me to watch my 14 month old express her nurturing instinct already, hugging and kissing and pushing her dolls and stuffed bear in a stroller. Unfortunately, she also is expressing other instincts that aren't so nice. When someone, even someone 3 times her size, gets in her space or dares to touch a toy she is playing with, she will give them a good shove. Oy! Big A is mostly loving towards her adoring younger sister who worships the ground she walks on but the battles over food and toys has already begun. That is to be expected I guess.

Tomorrow Adam and I have our first real date since Little A was born. Yes, you heard that right! We are celebrating our 8 year anniversary that was a month ago. Massages at a spa in Yorkville, followed by lunch and a movie. My in-laws are taking the girls for the day. I can't wait!!!!!

F1: I tried the PB2 peanut powder in a dish I made last week. I made a spicy peanut, pineapple coconut sauce for chicken. I don't think I put enough in though, as the peanut flavour was almost undetectable. In contrast, however, I added some to Little A's hot oatbran cereal a few times, along with some mashed banana and she LOVES it! It turned it really creamy and peanutty. The only problem is Little A won't let us spoon feed her again and she doesn't know how to use a spoon so she eats it with her hands and makes a gigantic mess.

F2: Exercise of the week: Plie Squat - great one for inner thighs and glutes.

http://exercise.about.com/od/exerciseworkouts/ss/howtosquat_6.htm

Friday, June 11, 2010

Pasta with Peas and Sausage

We had this for dinner tonight. It is perhaps one of my weirder creations but I love it. Actually, it's not that the combination of ingredients is weird, it's my method that is unconventional. I puree the peas to make a green sauce. I've seen this done as a topping for bruschetta, but never as a sauce for pasta. It's a shame because it's really good. And you can easily make this vegetarian by eliminating the sausage.

1 lb whole wheat short pasta (penne, rotini, fusilli, etc.)

500g bag frozen organic sweet green peas
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 lb spicy Italian turkey sausage, or any sausage you like, sliced into bite sized pieces
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 cup white wine

Cook pasta according to directions on package.

Pour peas, garlic and stock into a large sauce pan and simmer until peas are cooked but still bright green. Let cool and then transfer into food processor and process until almost smooth (I like a bit of texture). Add more stock if necessary, but should be thick puree. Brown sausage over medium heat in large skillet. Add fennel seeds. Deglaze pan with white wine and turn heat down to low. Pour in pea puree. Right before you drain pasta, add a few ladels of pasta cooking water to pea/sausage mixture to thin it out to desired consistency. Drain pasta and add to skillet. Mix all ingredients until pasta is evenly coated in sauce. Add liberal amounts of fresh parmesan or romano cheese.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Apologies

Professor A Hole sent me an apology today admitting that he mixed my name up with the other student's because they both start with the same letter. While I am glad that he apologized, I still think the tone of his message was condescending and highly inappropriate.

I took Big A to an open house for her kindergarten today. She had a tantrum as we were leaving the school (not wanting to wear her shoes in the stroller kicked it off...) and then she had a MAJOR tantrum tonight after Adam left to go to a concert with his dad. I am thinking that perhaps she is actually quite nervous about starting school in the fall and doesn't know how to deal with her emotions and also doesn't know how to articulate them. Or maybe she's just a rotten child, who knows...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Hi, Uh Oh, Hi, Uh Oh

P1: I am beginning to realize that things are going to move slowly in terms of getting my project set up at Mount Sinai. Everyone who has to be involved is very busy and there is a lot of bureaucracy involved. Until our proposal is passed through the ethics board, it looks like the only thing I can do is prepare the information packages on miscarriage support for patients. Oh well, my timeline is flexible. This is all about setting the stage for my future career and I still have over a year and a half left of school.

I am not enjoying my current course, Psychopathology, as much as the others so far. The professor is a dolt. He has set up the course in such a way that you can end up wasting a lot of time. For example, you cannot post an answer to one of his discussion questions that has already been answered by someone else. You have to respond to the other students' responses. While I understand the value of trying to make this interactive, it also means that several times I have spent hours researching and writing an answer only to find another student has just posted it so mine is now useless. Of course Adam pointed out that I am still learning a lot through the process, but it is frustrating to do all the work and then have it not count. In addition, the prof wrote the following snarky post addressed to me:

Erica,

There are in fact thousands of background studies that went into the construction of each edition of the DSM. It is silly to state that there is no scientific bases for the Axes. All systems of classification are tentative and subject to revision BASED ON SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH, not whim. It would behoove you to read the material in Chapter 9 of the textbook to understand the evolution of classification in psychiatry and psychology.

Sourcebooks
The DSM-IV does not specifically cite its sources, but there are four volumes of "sourcebooks" intended to be APA's documentation of the guideline development process and supporting evidence, including literature reviews, data analyses and field trials.[20][21][22][23] The Sourcebooks have been said to provide important insights into the character and quality of the decisions that led to the production of DSM-IV, and hence the scientific credibility of contemporary psychiatric classification.[24][25]


This is in reference to a discussion we were having. I went back and read my contribution and I said nothing even related to what he is talking about here. I read all the students' posts and finally realized this guy was responding to the post of another student, named "Elena" and obviously got confused. First of all, that's sloppy and careless. Second of all, I don't think he should be talking to any student like this.

P2: Little A is such a hoot lately. She has been happy and joyful, albeit very clingy with me. Sherma was extremely amused yesterday because she was playing reggae on her Blackberry and Little A started dancing...she loves music and will pretty much dance to anything actually. Everywhere we go Little A says "Hi" to EVERYONE. At the library today, she walked up to every single person there, including the librarians and yelled, "Hi". She still only has 2 words, "Hi" and "Uh oh". I told Adam that "Hi" must be her version of Shalom, which, of course, means hello, goodbye and peace in Hebrew. She is also relishing in her new found freedom she has found by being able to walk. She often just walks back and forth between Adam, Big A and I and she is quickly getting faster and steadier on her feet.

Little A has also been an eating machine the past week, I think to make up for all the weight she lost when she was sick. It is such a relief! She has even eaten chicken and scrambled eggs this week, 2 things that never previously passed her lips.

F1: While making a scrambled egg and guacamole sandwich yesterday, I discovered how yummy it is to add the guacamole right into the eggs at the end of the cooking time. So, so good!

Tofurky has a new line of tempeh products in different flavours. I tried them out this week and they are delish. Tempeh is one of the healthiest forms of soy because it is fermented and Tofurky uses organic soy, which is an added bonus. I just stuffed the sesame garlic strips into a whole wheat pita with organic greens but you could add them to a stir-fry or wrap or have them plain. Give them a try if you find them.

http://www.tofurky.com/tempehproducts/marinated_strips.html

F2: I've worked my way up to doing 4 sets of 5 chin ups twice a week. While this is a major improvement above where I started when we got the chin up bar, it still sucks. I'm very frustrated! This personal trainer needs a personal trainer!

Vegetarian Chili

Chili isn't your typical spring meal but it is cool and rainy here today and I love chili anytime of year. I added okra for extra veggie content but if you don't like it, use a 1 lb bag of frozen corn and/or lima beans. This makes a huge amount so I usually freeze the extra for a quick meal on an occasion when I don't have time to cook. Serve over brown rice or with a side of corn bread.

Vegetarian Chili

1 tsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 large carrots, diced
2 red and 2 green bell peppers, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce or 1 jalapeno pepper (optional), finely diced, if you want heat
4 tbls chili powder (you need this much for the flavour, it usually has no heat)
1 tbls ground cumin
1 tbls cocoa powder
1 can tomato paste
1 can black beans
1 can red kidney beans
1 can crushed tomatoes
2 300g bags frozen, sliced okra
1.5 cups water or vegetable stock

In a large pot, saute onion, garlic and veggies in oil over medium heat until softened. Add the chili powder, cumin and cocoa powder and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add tomato paste, and beans and stir to combine. Pour in crushed tomatoes and stir. Turn heat down to low. Add okra, if using and water or stock and simmer about 30 minutes. Add additional water or stock if you prefer a thinner consistency.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Pain in the Butt

P1: I just started a new course: Psychopathology, so of course I'm totally stressed. At the beginning of each course I am plagued by thoughts like, "This material is too sophisticated for me, I'm going to flunk" or "I am never going to have time to do all the work." The fact that I've done extremely well in all the courses so far doesn't seem to give me any confidence. Yes, I know, I need lots of psychological help myself...

I met with Dr. M at Mount Sinai today and we discussed our research study. Doesn't look like I can get access to patients until it is approved by the ethics board and I am officially a "research assistant", so we have to finalize all the paper work. She is hoping I can get started in July. I am kind of relieved it won't start now as I am kind of feeling overwhelmed. Fortunately, I finish up my first course from the certificate in miscarriage/infertility counselling this week and there is not another one offered again until September.

P2: After several weeks of relatively good behaviour, Big A is back to her old antics again. Adam got home Wednesday from a conference and each night since then she has had a major tantrum. Adam thinks she is adjusting to having him back. I suppose that's possible...lately she is VERY focused on me, which is a big change. As I've mentioned previously, she used to be very much a daddy's girl but that seems to be changing. Not that I mind, I'm thrilled she actually wants to spend time with me. She is a pleasure to be around when she is not acting atrociously.

Little A has given us a rough ride the past few weeks, although I can't blame her - she had a fever for a few days, some teething and then the stomach flu. But my little ray of sunshine has been moody, clingy and grumpy and just really not herself. She also ate almost nothing for almost a week after her tummy got upset. Everyone was commenting how skinny she was looking, which had me really worried. Fortunately, yesterday she snapped back to her old ways and has been happy and cheerful and she finally started eating again. She even ate veal roast tonight at Adam's bubby's house!

F1: Today I got a package I ordered in the mail that I'm very excited about. It's called PB2 http://www.bellplantation.com/ and it's essentially a peanut powder that you mix with a liquid to make a peanut spread or sauce. Sounds weird I know. But the key is that it apparently tastes just like peanut butter but has a fraction of the calories. Now it will never replace real peanut butter for me because I love it and because I eat a really low fat diet anyways so when I eat peanut butter I want the monounsaturated fat it provides. But let's face it, who wouldn't want to eat peanut butter more often? I love it and often cook with nut butters, but I thought it would be fun to find ways to use this product. I was thinking I could make a spicy peanut sauce to go on a chicken sandwich for a yummy lunch or make a tasty frosting for cupcakes or to sandwich between oatmeal raisin or chocolate chip cookies. Or how about a sauce for ice cream?

I didn't think PB2 was available in Canada so I ordered it from the U.S., however, I just discovered it is carried at a store in Markham, Ontario so it looks like I just screwed myself by paying the delivery charges:

Low Carb Grocery
170 Esna Park Drive, Unit #8,
Markham, ON L3R 1E3
(888)484-7479

Oh well, live and learn...

Anyways, after I try it I'll keep you posted on how it tastes.

F2: The "tightness" I've had in my hamstrings has morphed into sciatica. I'm so annoyed. I have had sciatica flare-ups several times before, the last one being the last few months of my pregnancy with Little A which went away as soon as she was born. But it's back. And the Yin Yoga class I've been committed to doing every week seems to only help temporarily. A woman I know at the JCC where I teach spinning suggested I see her friend who is an osteopath...I think I'm gonna try it because it is really bothering me. In case you are unfamiliar with it, sciatica is nerve pain that can affect your lower back, glutes, hip or thigh. For me, it is a dull ache in my butt, which likely means it is due to piriformis syndrome, defined on Wikipedia as:

"In 15% of the population, the sciatic nerve runs through the piriformis muscle rather than beneath it. When the muscle shortens or spasms due to trauma or overuse, it can compress or strangle the sciatic nerve beneath the muscle. Conditions of this type are generally referred to as entrapment neuropathies; in the particular case of sciatica and the piriformis muscle, this condition is known as piriformis syndrome. It has colloquially been referred to as "wallet sciatica" since a wallet carried in a rear hip pocket will compress the muscles of the buttocks and sciatic nerve when the bearer sits down. Piriformis syndrome may be a cause of sciatica when the nerve root is normal."

In honour of the pain in my ass, the exercise of the week is the pigeon yoga pose, which is my absolute favorite yoga pose and is the best hip and glute stretch I know. Here is a link to a video demonstration:



Namaste!