Monday, February 28, 2011

Dinner Diaries & WAHM (this week)

Last week was particularly sucky at work and I was contemplating taking a couple days off in the near future to take a breather.  Well, my prayers were answered...kinda. A pipe burst in my office building and flooded our office this weekend.  This morning we all headed over and packed up our files and brought home what we needed to work from home for the rest of the week.  Awesome.  Just what I needed.  The hour long traffic in the snow this morning was worth it I guess.

Yeah for less time commuting and for more time to prepare meals and not to mention work in my pajamas!

Here is our line-up this week:

Monday lemon cilantro chicken over orzo pasta, mixed greens and avocado salad
Tuesday - meatloaf, roasted sweet potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower
Wednesday - spinach quiche, vegetable and bean soup (frozen from last week)
Thursday - roasted chicken, quinoa greek salad with tomatoes and cucumbers
Friday - Homemade meat lovers pizza, caesar salad

Friday, February 25, 2011

Fancy That! Friday

Here are a few things that either caught my eye or got me really thinking this week...

My beloved BOB Revolution stroller was recalled. The only remedy is to remove the drawstring at the back of the sun canopy. No big deal, but huge considering how many BOB's are on the streets and canal in Ottawa alone.

This awesome video by PhD in Parenting titled, "Covering Up is a Feminist Issue".

This post by Allison from Mine Are Here in response to my post, Letting them "blossom" on their own. And since then I have read so many posts on the topic of manners. Like this one about saying thank you, and this one about spirit or form. And then there is this one about alternatives to forced apologies which is interesting to read after my Sorry post. They all have some great information on teaching manners. I'm still pondering my take on it all...what do you think?

This adorable photo shoot of baby twins by Claire Ross Photography. I love following Claire's work and I'm so glad I met her through some mommy friends. Claire did a fall themed shoot of my little family back in October and I love how they turned out.

This "Voices of Motherhood Writing Contest" from the Yummy Mummy Club. How has motherhood changed you or how have you changed motherhood?

Okay, so this didn't come up this week. I actually saw this a couple months ago, but it's hilarious and I check it from time to time to give myself a good laugh. If you haven't seen it yet, you must check out this link to Awkward Pregnancy Photos.

What jumped out at you this week?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sorry

Little E’s day care provider, Mrs. X, greeted me at the door.  As little E hugged my leg, I could sense that something was up. 

Mrs. X: “Tell Mommy what happened today”

He pulled away from me and went to the door to look out the window. 

Little E: “Sorry Mikey”

Me: “Why did you say sorry to Mikey?”

He put his head down.

Little E: “Push”

Me: “Did you push Mikey today?”

Little E: “Ya. Sorry Mikey”.

We talked about what happened as I picked him up and cuddled him.  The poor thing looked like he was afraid I was going disown him.  Mrs. X said he was extremely apologetic the rest of the day. When she originally asked him to say sorry to Mikey his face fell like he was going to cry.  He doesn’t like to get called out on his bad behaviour.  Mikey and the other children couldn’t stop laughing because they said he’s just so cute when he says sorry. Mrs. X had to remind them that this was serious business.

It was the first time he stood up for himself at daycare and pushed someone away.  It was also the first time he had been disciplined like a big boy at day care.  He has always been so compliant around other children and I’ve noticed that since he was the youngest one at day care for so long, he was often babied by the other children.  When we had play dates with children his own age they pushed him around and he wasn’t used to that. 

With his few-worded sentences he could tell me what happened.  He could also show me that he felt remorse for his unpleasant behavior. This little milestone, although not the most favourable one, reminds me of just how fast my baby is growing into a little man.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday {Gymnastics Fun!}


Usually little E and I go together to "nastics" when Hubby coaches in the evening. On Family Day, little E got to enjoy a drop-in at Starr Gymnatics with both of us and was especially proud to show off all his skills to Daddy.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dinner Diaries & A Kind Treat

I'm a little late getting to this so I will just finish off the week. Tonight we had breakfast for dinner...mmm french toast...mostly because we didn't get groceries over the weekend and I was lacking motivation to make something up.

With the fridge stocked no, we will be having:

Wednesday - Peanut chicken skewers, brown rice and broccoli
Thursday - Vegetable and bean soup, sweet potato rolls
Friday - Sloppy turkey joes, sweet potato mash, peas and carrots

I did some more baking this long weekend. I made some banana bread with the over-ripe bananas that have been piling up in the freezer and just had to make some Blueberry Crumb Muffins after seeing the posted recipe. They both turned out great.

I have another loaf of banana bread in the oven now to bring to work as part of my extra kindness. Have a great (kind) week!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Choose to be Kind


Today marks the first day of Kindness Week in Ottawa and I am eager to join in the fun. There are all kinds of great ideas out there. Really, it shouldn't only happen one week of the year, but it is nice to be reminded.

The are all kinds of tips and ideas on the www.kindottawa.ca website. I've already sent the information to my office colleagues to encourage them to join the initiative.  Perhaps we can come up with something as a group? 

Here are a few activities that I am also thinking of doing this week:
  • Bake a treat to share with the office.
  • Donate gently used baby items to the "Baby Cupboard Drive" to support Mothercraft Ottawa.
  • Donate to the food bank.
  • Donate used household items to a charity.
  • Write a note to someone special.

How are you planning to be extra kind this week?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Letting them "blossom" on their own

I came across this post last night, "Why I don't force my kids to say 'please' ...or walk on schedule", and it really hit me hard. I was like, "WHOA!" (okay, I wasn't really, but I couldn't write this post without referring to Joey Lawrence and his signature line and I might as well get it over with now, right?). But, seriously. It made me re-think my parenting style and what I believe is best for my family. It made me look at my myself from another perspective and that's cool.

The post was written by Mayim Bialik, former "Blossom" star, one of my favourite shows growing up. Mayim follows a let-them-develop-at-their-own-pace kind of parenting method and it's what works for her and her family. She talks about three areas that parents force on their children; sharing, politeness, and excelling.

This post comes at a perfect time. Just the other night I was looking back on my day and was disappointed in myself for how many times I asked little E, "What do you say?" You know, the common phrase that parents say to their children to get a please or thank you out of them? I am asking him this way too much and I'm starting to annoy myself. Does he genuinely say please or thank you? Very rarely. He is usually prompted to. His day care provider is very strict about manners in her house and I respect that. But does he really understand the meaning or is it a response he knows is just to get his way? Before I read Mayim's post, I was starting to think of how I can re-phrase my question to make him understand his manners better. Do I say, "remember your manners" or "be polite" or is that just as bad? Do I say anything at all?

Her comments about sharing are interesting. I am guilty of hovering at playgroups sometimes, but I have also done the opposite and backed away to see how things pan out. Nobody wants their child to be viewed as the greedy or mean one when they steal toys away from another child or butt in front of the line to the slide, so usually a quick reminder or a returned toy to the upset friend is taken care of by the parent. Mayim has me re-thinking about how to react in these situations. Perhaps discussing the situation is better and making your child understand their friend's feelings. Although, I'm not convinced this would be an easy task.

What boggles my mind is her completely out of the norm view on children reaching milestones and our views on excelling. Most parents these days are so excited to see their child advance that they do what ever they can to help steer them in the right direction. Since little E is my first child I was eager to see him smile and crawl and walk. I know this is typical of first time parents. I hadn't even considered letting him learn these big steps on his own without a little coaxing.

One of the biggest milestones I looked forward to was talking. Since the day we brought little E home we have talked his little ears out. We read him stories over and over, making sure to include books with repetition to help his development even more. We explain everything we are doing, OUT LOUD, so he is aware and understands. We talk to him as we go grocery shopping, as we tie our shoes, as we cook dinner….Hubby and I don’t stop talking. I’ve read a lot of articles about how to encourage your children to talk and I try my best to follow these easy steps.

I can still remember the day that it really hit us that little E knew exactly what we were saying.  He was 13 months old and had just got comfortable enough on his feet that he could walk around the house without falling down. We had just finished dinner and I sat down on the couch with Hubby as little E played with toys on the floor. I turned to Hubby and asked him if he wanted to take little E and the dog to the park. Little E got up and excitedly walked over to me. So I told him, while snickering, that if he wanted to go to the park he had to go get his shoes so Mommy could put them on (I was clearly being lazy and was snickering because there was no way he would actually do this, right?). He happily walked over to the front door picked up his shoes, and gave them to me. Hubby and I looked at each other and laughed. We couldn’t believe it! It was like one of Oprah’s "AHA!" moments. Wow, he really gets us! It was the first time that little E really showed us that he understood and that he was listening. It was amazing and it still makes me smile thinking back to how shocked we were seeing him come around the corner of the kitchen with shoes in-hand. I think it was the same time I said to Hubby, “Ok, really, no more swearing in this house!”.

I have a few friends and family that are teachers and I hear horror stories all the time about children not knowing how to read or about all the behavioural and learning issues there are today. I’ve always taken reading to little E seriously...because I believe it is one of the most important things to do for a child to help them excel in life. I have always believed that my role was to give little E all the tools he needs to excel on his own. Like a gardener, giving a plant the proper amount of soil, sunlight and water to thrive.  From there it is up to my little flower to use these tools to build strength and "blossom" on his own.

Little E can express himself exceptionally well for an almost 22 months old. At 15 months old he had well over the recommended number of words and he is saying small sentences now. He can tell me when something hurts or if he's hungry or tired. He can tell me exactly what toy he wants to play with or book he wants to read or snack he feels like eating. Talking has made my life so much easier! Who knows, maybe my excessive talking did help him learn to talk earlier...or maybe he is just an early talker? Lately I have wondered; Am I pushing it? Am I forcing him to talk?

Over the Christmas holidays when we were visiting family (that we usually only visit once a year), little E was playing with some cousins. A family member wanted to show off his "skills" and was constantly asking him questions (ie. say this, say that). He grew more and more agitated when I finally had to step in and say, "I think he just wants to play right now". I wanted to scream "Just let him be a kid! Leave him alone!", but I know this family member was just so proud of him that they want to show him off. I get that. As I vented to Hubby that night we finally realized - enough is enough. Yes, he is speaking really well and his soft little voice is completely adorable but he is not a little robot or puppet or monkey. I think as parents, we forget that sometimes it's more important for them to play and learn from their surroundings rather then quizzing them on their words or ABC's or 123's.  I am guilty of doing this from time to time, but I never wanted to be that parent.

I am interested to see more from Mayim. Some of her beliefs have FORCED me to re-evaluate my parenting, but others I know are not for me. And that's fine. I am a firm believer of do-what-works-for-you. She really has opened my eyes to different parenting styles and there are things that I am already doing differently to try to better myself as a parent. Like, last night for example. I did not prompt little E to say goodnight or to say that he loves me because really that's ridiculous. But I am guilty of doing this previously because it's just so freakin' cute when he says it. Instead, I will wait for a night (like he has done in the past) where he out-of-the-blue says, "Goodnight, wuv you Mommy", because THAT is so much more rewarding.

"Living Up To My Potential AND MORE"

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The canal makes me smile

This past weekend I invited my family up to take in the canal and a bit of Winterlude. We had a fun day on Saturday at Dow's Lake and a few of us also made a trip to Snowflake Kingdom on Sunday morning. So much fun!

We have had beautiful canal weather the last few weeks and so we've been trying to go for a skate at least once a week. I love the fresh air and the exercise (feel the burn on those quads!) and little E can't get enough of his skates.  If it was up to him, we be out on the canal every morning.  We are always greeted at the crack of dawn with questions of "canal? skating?".

There are so many reasons why the canal makes me smile...here are just a few of the highlights:
  • Skating behind obvious first dates with silly giggles and awkward pauses and styled hair avoiding hat head.
  • Cocky skaters that whiz by you and then hit a divot and completely wipe out.
  • Little skaters falling down and getting right back up again and again.
  • Bundled up babies fast asleep in a bumpy sleigh ride.
  • Elderly couples holding hands and skating in sync.
  • Beavertails and hot chocolate.
  • Holding on to the side of the stroller so Hubby can pull me too when I start feeling the burn and need a little break.
  • Seeing little E's face light up when we put his skates on and as he kicks his feet around thinking he is skating.

My goal is to actually skate the full 7.8 km and back this year.  We have always skated from Dow's Lake and turned around shortly after Bank Street. 

What is your favourite part of the canal?  Have you skated the full length yet?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Dinner Diaries & Valentine's Day

On deck this week:

Monday - something quick like Subway
Tuesday - Chicken fajitas, homemade guacamole, spanish rice and beans
Wednesday - Beef stroganoff with whole wheat egg noodles, green beans, garden salad
Thursday - Homemade vegetarian pizza, caesar salad
Friday - Salmon loaf, curried rice and quinoa salad with broccoli

We don't celebrate Valentines Day like many couples do with the fancy dinners and gifts, although I do think it's important to do something extra special every once and a while to remind those you love how you feel. We haven't made any plans for tonight because I have an early soccer game so we will probably be rushing after work and grabbing something to eat on the way to the game. How romantic :) Maybe one night this week we will be able to schedule a movie/date night at home once little E is in bed.


Happy Valentines Day!

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Lude

This weekend we are hittin' up Winterlude. I have invited my family from out of town to join us for the fun and there will be 17-20 of us! We will be skating at Dow's Lake and will hopefully have time to stop by Confederation Park to see the ice sculptures. Saturday night my neices who are 12 and 9, will be staying at my place and I'm looking forward to having a "girls night" with them. I haven't decided what to do with them yet. Maybe some valentines baking or crafting? Sunday morning we hope to go to Snowflake Kingdom with all the kiddies.

There has been a lot of great articles this past week about Winterlude and I am excited to check it out. We've only ever gone to Dow's Lake in the past so it will be nice to take in the other sites. The fresh air will be nice after a long week too, and of course some beavertails will help sooth the soul!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

It's not easy being a mother

"It's not easy being a mother. If it were easy, fathers would do it." ~ The Golden Girls

This has been a tough week. Actually, two weeks. Hubby is working long hours and I am tired; tired of doing it all on my own. How do single mothers do it? Or my Mom; how did she do it? My Dad works really long hours on the farm and most days he only enters the house to eat and sleep. How did she do it with a full house of kids?  I only have one! I have a new found respect for my Mom and the fact that she didn't go completely ape shit. It's amazing that they will be celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary this year. I feel completely batty after going through this routine for two straight weeks.

Get up. Shower. Get dressed. Get child dressed. Fight him to brush his teeth and wash his face. Pack up my lunch and his diaper bag. Fight him to get winter outerwear on. Try not to fall on steps covered in newly fallen snow while carrying child and three bags. Fight child to buckle in car seat. Clean snow (seriously, is it done snowing yet?) off car. Drive to day care provider's. Find child's boots in back seat and put back on and remind him that it does not make Mommy happy when he kicks his boots off in the car! Deal with a clingy drop-off. Drive to work in traffic. Work 8 hours. Drive home in traffic. Pick up child from day care. Struggle to buckle in car seat. Repeat putting boots back on when we arrive home. Make dinner while child wants my utmost attention. Give cuddles and kisses to child feeling ignored. Refrain child from touching hot pots and pans on stove. Take dog out. Feed dog. Remove child from kitchen and from making a mess of dog's dishes.  Feed child dinner. Entertain/play with child. Bathe child. Put child to bed. Wash dishes/load dish washer. Wash/dry laundry. Fold laundry. Crash. REPEAT DAY AFTER DAY.

Every night I just feel like crashing. I do the bare minimums, but my house is still a mess. The weather doesn't help and the fact that I'm SO over winter. Maybe it's the lack of sleep I got again last night. Or maybe I just need a breather and to get out of the house.  Or maybe I'm just a Debby Downer today. Whatever it is, I am not feeling my happy and chipper self these days. I think it's time to delegate some more responsibilities around the house :)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Z is for Zamboni

This is the first book I bought when we found out we were expecting. We didn't know what we were having, but what I did know was that Hubby's passion for hockey was going to rub off and I knew it would be a fun book for Daddy and Baby to enjoy together.

We've been reading it to little E since we brought him home. It is obviously one of his favourite books because a) Daddy plays hockey and b) Grandpa (my FIL) drives a Zamboni.

At 21 months he can tell me what each page stands for or at least what he can see on each page. He grabs it as I'm changing him into his pajama's and studies it while reciting his favourite words. All the while, I'm trying to maneuver the book from hand to hand because he refuses to put it down - it is a must-read before bed.

His reactions to each page are priceless - as if it is his first time looking at the book. Last night, was no different.

"I see it! I see it!", he yells. So I ask him what exactly he sees. "A hockey player!"

This time Daddy was reading. Daddy has been busy with work the last 2 weeks so has missed out on bedtime routines and I couldn't wait to show him little E's latest developments.

As he points to skates and jerseys and helmets, I couldn't wait until we got to 'M'. "Mawio!" he says proudly.

M is for Mario, he really plays with flair.

Hubby's face lights up as he laughs. Mario is Hubby's favourite player along with Crosby or "Coby" as little E says it.

But, my favourite right now is 'S'.

S is for slashing, when a stick is used to hit.

"OHH NOO!", he says. It's the same loud, hilarious reaction every time.

Hubby laughs. "That's right buddy. Stay out of the penalty box".

Monday, February 7, 2011

Dinner Diaries & Weekend Baking

Along with a big honkin' salad each night, this is what will be served at our house this week:

Monday - Garlic and rosemary chicken, brown rice, cauliflower
Tuesday - Tex mex shepherd's pie with corn and beans
Wednesday - Pork chops, peas and carrots, sweet potatoes
Thursday - Tuna salad and tuna pasta salad for little E with this really cute pasta I picked up this weekend
Friday - Chicken, broccoli and cauliflower casserole

I am determined to get back on track this week with eating habits and sleep routines and fitness. This weekend was awesome for sleep and last night little E slept for 11 hours straight without a peep (knock on wood)!

I don't care too much for football, so I skipped out on watching the Superbowl yesterday and got a lot of baking and food preparations done for the week. I love spending my Sundays preparing for the week - Monday morning isn't such a struggle. Saturday, I made a Zucchini and Carrot Loaf and yesterday I made some Cranberry Quinoa Peanut Butter Power Bars, adding in some sunflower seeds and slivered almonds for more crunch.  I also made some Quinoa and Broccoli Salad to pack for my lunches. Mmm quinoa.

I will be making some Quinoa Mini-Muffins later in the week to prepare for visiting family this weekend.  I frequently use this Quinoa Muffins recipe from Martha Stewart and switch up the ingredients. This time I will use dried cranberries instead of raisins.  I have been making mini-muffins a lot lately because they are a great snack for little E. I usually stick to an oatmeal muffin or banana bread recipe base and add in more fruit and quinoa. Quinoa is so easy to incorporate into anything...just throw some in anything you are making and you have an added source of protein and more. I use quinoa often in soups; when making homemade chicken noodle soup I often substitute quinoa for the noodles. An even better way to use quinoa in recipes is to replace the flour with quinoa flour. Little E's day care provider makes tons of muffins and cookies using quinoa flour, but I'm not quite there yet.

Last Saturday, I made a batch of Sweet Potato Rolls. Have you ever had a fresh sweet potato roll? I could eat these all day! Little E's day care providers makes these at least once weekly if not more and they are a huge it at her day care. The kids all call them "bunsies" and come running for them. I have tried a couple different recipes and finally had to cave and ask her because mine never turned out the way hers did. Turns out she was using a recipe from an old Canadian Living magazine and I was able to dig it up on the web. Try this recipe to make the best Sweet Potato Rolls you have ever had!!! It isn't the quickest recipe because of all the rising and kneading and rolling and cutting required, but you will not be disappointed. I will be making another batch of these this weekend for the family.

Enjoy!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Blah

I haven't posted in a full week. I feel sleep deprived. Little E has a cold and he has fighting sleep. I am barely functioning at home and haven't even put together a meal plan this week. Left overs and last minute meals seemed to be working out okay, but are just adding to the blah-ness around here. My days at work are busy and my brain is tired. When bed time comes around for little E I am finding myself crashing at the same time. I have a million things on my mind...just haven't had the time or energy to type them out.

Slowly,
but
surely,
I'll
get
back
into
a
routine.

I am one for routine and I know how important it is for children. I've always stuck to a great bed time routine for little E and he has always been a great sleeper. I am proud of that. Two months ago we seemed to fall off the routine train in the midst of sickness and food trials and haven't got back on. This week it is really wearing on me and I am exhausted.

I've been lazy too. We've been letting little E join us in bed and neither Hubby nor I are getting a good sleep. It started off with little E waking up a couple hours early so we would bring him in bed with us and he would sleep a couple more hours. We loved this extra cuddle time with him before heading off to work. But then he got too comfortable and starting waking up in the middle of the night. And I was just too lazy and tired to refuse his company between us. It wouldn't be so bad if he didn't constantly wine or toss and turn or whack us in the head or try to sleep horizontally all night. This past week he would not go to sleep in his bed. I know it's my fault. I allowed the situation to amount to this. I lost control.

Starting over is hard with a toddler. When little E was an infant I would simply go back to The No-Cry Sleep Solution book for tips. Now, I'm finding myself reading the toddler edition that I picked up at the library this week for guidance. It's much tougher now. His cries are of sheer devastation. How dare I set him down in his crib and leave the room? I refuse to let him cry it out. His crocodile tears are just too sad. I just can't do it.

Hubby put him to bed Wednesday night which really helped us get back on track. He isn't as clingy when Daddy gives him the last kiss. He only woke up once in the night and quickly went back to sleep. Last night it only took me 10 minutes of re-assuring and re-entering his room before he fell asleep rather than the 1 hour is was taking earlier in the week. He only woke twice in the night and went back to sleep fairly quickly again.  I'm starting to feel much better after a couple nights of okay sleep.

I can't wait for nap times this weekend.  Schedules, a return to workout routines and blogging will be had in the house again at last!