Thursday, December 3, 2009

Heidi's language skills (@ 17 months)

Heidi can now correctly sign:

thank you
all done/gone/finished

These are all the signs Amelia did too, but she understood a lot more. I was much better at signing to her all the time. Now I'm just too busy to teach Heidi... poor second born. At least she's exposed to more spoken language than Amelia was. I actually felt weird talking to Amelia all the time when she was a baby since I knew she didn't understand me most of the time anyway.

Her speech has really taken off lately too. She says: bottle, ball, bounce, baby, no, uh oh, ding, cheese, and shoe (okay so cheese sounds like "chhh" and shoe sounds like "shhh", but it works!). Oh, and she wolf whistles.


Heidi loves to:

- grab some books, climb into bed, pull up the covers and "read"
- give "schnoodles" (cheek to cheek hugs)
- take baths
- talk to and touch animals
- drink from straws
- give me raspberries on my stomach

Amelia loves to:

- get her little sister water and snacks
- play in forts
- pretend to be a mommy
- make cards
- play Mahjong (with the cheat button) on my computer

Heidi hates:

- soap bubbles
- swiss cheese
- Loblaws, but is okay with most other stores (!?)

Amelia hates:

- having her hair brushed
- wearing pants
- someone singing while she's chewing

Monday, November 30, 2009


I'm stupid with nicknames. It started with my parents' cats. I began calling them dumb nicknames (Winnie went by Supermergantroy and Motley was Halaroo). Then it moved on to my cats. Moe is Schmoo, Schmozly, Schmoopie-Poo, Moo, and the list goes on and on. Artemis is Buttface, Smartemis, Bartemis Fowl, etc. Kendrick was always afraid of what I'd call our kids. He was right to be scared.

Babycakes (when she was a baby)

Barely bear
Ditty (usually preceded by a "hey")
Dittles (see above)
Professor Ditty Von Bear
Ditty-ditty Dumpling Head

They're going to hate me when they're older. But then again, my mom used to call me Chrissywitch...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Holy shrimp, my kids are cute!

Amelia makes me laugh every day. Here are a few snippets of life with my three year old:

Today at Farm Boy we noticed their Christmas decorations. Amelia's exclamation upon noticing the giant wreath: "Holy shrimp, that's a huge wreath!".

When something is not going her way she stamps her foot and says: "Tartar sauce!". I love SpongeBob.

We used to be concerned about her social skills. Kendrick is convinced that her school experience will be as bad as his was. I'm not so worried anymore. She's only been taking swimming lessons alone since September and she has grown so much. She would barely open her mouth at the beginning but now she's always talking to the instructor and conversing with the other children. She's the most out-going child in the class, and the youngest to boot. Now to get Heidi to detach herself from me a little and we're all set.

Speaking of Heidi... man, she's a troublemaker. She throws a fit when her demands are not immediately met and she throws it with gusto. Looks like she's just like her sister in respect to her terrible twos starting early. Hopefully, unlike her sister, they'll end early too.

The two of them do get along very well though. I have been really busy with work the past couple of weeks, usually putting in a couple of hours a day, and Amelia "takes care" of her little sister for me. She gets her water and snacks and plays really nicely. Yesterday they were playing in Amelia's room while I was working and I heard Amelia very gently asking Heidi to sit on her bum in the chair. "No Heidi. Bum or knees. Look at Amelia, Heidi, bum or knees. No standing. ... Good girl." They grow up so fast. I can't believe this is my last year with Amelia full-time. I will definitely miss her when she starts school, but also be very thankful for the time I'll get with Heidi.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mushroom Ragout

I made a delicious mushroom ragout for dinner tonight. I roasted tomatoes with a couple cloves of garlic and olive oil for about an hour. Then I simmered the lot on the stove with a big pile of coarsely chopped mushrooms and a dollop of red wine. Served on pasta with fresh grated Parmesan. Yummy! Kendrick would have preferred meat in it, but I'm sticking with what's good.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Where does the time go?

I'm a terrible blogger. I can't believe it's been so long since I've updated this thing. I'm going to try to be a better blogger, I promise.

This was a good weekend. I actually got to sleep in this morning (well, until 8:45, but that's a huge deal around here). We had an impromptu family gathering here on Saturday: slow-cooked ribs, fried rice, and butter tarts. Yummy. Then today we had went to get a family portrait taken. I can't believe it's taken this long for us to do it. Amelia picked out identical dresses for her and Heidi. They looked positively princess-like. Of course Heidi smashed her face on the edge of a table 5 minutes before getting in the car so she had a nice bruise on her cheek for the photos. Yay for photoshop! Now hopefully Kendrick didn't "Chandler smile" for every picture...

Heidi spent some time at the in-laws house without us there today too. I look forward to that becoming a regular occurrence. An kid-free afternoon every weekend. Bliss!

I also finished my Christmas cards, watched "Serenity" (now can David Milch give "Deadwood" the same send-off?!), and made a roasted tomato and mushroom ragout for tomorrow. All-in-all, a successful weekend.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Mosquitoes are stupid!

Amelia: Mosquitoes are stupid!
Me: Why do you say that?
A: Because the always bite me and it hurts.
Me: They bite you because they need blood to live. So really it's smart of them to bite you.
A: I need blood to live too.
Me: Yes, but you have lots of blood in your body. Mosquitoes just take a tiny little bit.
A: You and Daddy have more blood than me, they should only bite you.

Zucchini au Gratin

So I made the best zucchini au gratin ever a couple of nights ago. It was so good that I ate half the 9x13 pan in one sitting. I justified that by the fact that zucchini is a vegetable, no matter how much cheese sauce was on it, and therefore, good for me, and it was pretty much all I ate for dinner that night anyway. I doubt I'll ever be able to replicate the recipe again. But, I'll definitely try.

1 large zucchini/mixed summer squash, cut into chunks
1/2 cup sour cream
1-2 Tbsp vermouth
1 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup parmesan, grated
bread crumbs

Mix everything, except the bread crumbs, in a casserole dish. Bake, covered in tin foil, for 35 minutes at 300. Stir, re-cover, and put back in the oven for another 15-20 minutes, or until the squash is tender. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the top (and some more parmesan, if you like!) and put under the broiler until browned.

Now, I made this again a few nights later but I didn't have sour cream or cheddar cheese. What ever did I do, you ask? I used plain yogurt and gouda. Still delicious, although the gouda kind of clumped together so it required more stirring.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Community-Supported Agriculture

This year my husband and I, in an effort to be more health-conscious and "green", decided to join a CSA. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a CSA is a community-supported (or shared) agriculture group. Community members pay a local farmer for a "harvest share" in the winter, and once summer arrives, are rewarded with a weekly bounty of fresh, seasonal vegetables for the duration of the harvest.

As I've mentioned in a previous post, my daughter has been plagued with food allergies and
digestive issues since she started eating solids. This forced me to start paying close attention to our food choices in an effort to make her healthy. I became very disconcerted during our trips to the supermarket when I began taking note of all the produce that had been imported from China or Peru. I vowed to only buy produce from Canada, and Ontario whenever possible. The more
research I did into my daughter's problems, the more I became suspicious of the possible link between pesticides and allergies. I took my Canada-only purchasing decision a step further and sought out a place to buy locally grown, organic produce.

Not only is my CSA organic, it is one of only a handful of certified biodynamic farms in all of Canada. This means that the farm is treated as a living organism. The biodynamic farmer strives to enhance the relationships between living creatures on the farm while paying close attention to the subtle rhythms of nature. Swamps, gardens, pastures, woods, mammals, birds, soil, life, death, and renewal all have their place on the farm. No synthetic chemicals are used on the farm, and all outside inputs are kept to a minimum.

The pay-off for us is not only fresh favourites, like carrots, beans, lettuce, squash, and tomatoes, but also a huge variety of other things I would normally pass over in the supermarket like beet and radish greens, chard, and mixed Asian greens. We've been introduced to a large array of new food too: yellow, white, and purple carrots, tatsoi, Japanese turnips (now my daughter's favourite vegetable!), sweet baby beets, and red scallions.

It has been a bit of an adjustment joining the CSA: we don't know exactly what we'll be getting each week, or how much, but the quality and taste are unmatched by anything you'll find in the grocery store.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Family Gatherings

(As seen on

We just had the pleasure of visiting with relatives that we only get to see about once a year. With everyone's busy schedules and growing families, the visits have changed in frequency and duration. The traditional 9PM dinners need to be pushed up a couple of hours to facilitate the young ones bedtimes and the martinis don't flow quite a freely as they used to, but we still know how to eat. And boy, do we eat!

I think one of my favourite aspects of the big family gathering is the opportunity to share my recipes and favourites with my family and in turn, get an opportunity to try other people's favourites. There's always someone looking over the cook's shoulder, watching them prepare, taking careful notes (and sometimes just ready to mix a new batch of cocktails!). A flurry of emails often ensues in the following days from the eager sous-chefs clarifying ingredient lists and cooking times.

This past weekend was no exception. During the 3 meals we shared as a group, everyone contributed to the planning, preparation, and service in our own ways. One of the great things about everyone preparing a favourite is that you get such a variety food. For appetizers we enjoyed my signature Sangria, along with an amazing maple, pecan, chili and ice wine torte on pinot noir and black pepper biscotti (from Dana Shortt Gourmet), an assortment of cheeses, homemade spring rolls, and garlic scape pesto on fresh baguette. I posted the recipe for scape pesto on my last blog post. Since scapes are only in season for a couple of weeks, I thought ahead and froze some for this occasion. Dinner later that night was even better: butter-soft rib steaks, Caesar salad, sauteed mushrooms, my Dad's signature zucchini rice dish, and of course, a few bottles of nice wine.

Why do family events always involve food and drink? There's something about food that brings us all together. Conversations flow as freely as the wine, laughs are had, and memories are made. I know that some of my best memories are made around the kitchen island or the dining room table. Perhaps it's because food is the one thing we all have in common. We've all got to eat, so why not do it together?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

It really does go by quickly...

It's been a long time since I've had anytime, or inclination, to post something. I guess I'd better get my act in gear... Time is passing so quickly. I always scoffed when people told me to "enjoy it, they grow up so fast." The first year with Amelia was probably one of the longest in my life. But now that Amelia is 3 and Heidi is two days away from her first birthday, I couldn't agree more. I know I keep marvelling at how interesting Amelia is, but I just can't get over it! She amazes me everyday with her things she says, the stories she tells, and the amount of knowledge she acquires on daily basis (and the bad things she picks up from me!). She has suddenly exploded artistically. She's so interested in painting and drawing and writing right now. She had no interest in writing or identifying letters until very recently and now she's obsessed with drawing A's and H's and O's. She has suddenly started lying too. I thought that didn't begin until they were much older.

Just today Heidi went crazy with her sign language. I asked her if she could say "mommy" and she smiled and signed correctly. Then I asked her to say "daddy", which she signed mostly correct (touched the side of her head instead of her forehead). Then I asked her to say "milk" and she proceeded to laugh and sign "daddy" again. For the next 5 minutes I asked her to say different things and every time she laughed hysterically and signed "daddy". I was tempted to grab the video camera but I figured she'd stop the game if I left. She is quite possibly the cutest kid to ever live. And I'm not just saying that.

Amelia has been doing really well on her homeopathics. She has been eating fruit again (she even had a real cupcake at Heidi's birthday party) and there have been no major behavioural changes. The only major behavioural change has been the frequency of her tantrums, which have been drastically reduced. These once daily, and often multiple times a day, occurrences have lessened to once a week at the most! I must find some wood to knock on. I'm not necessarily saying the medicine is completely responsible for this, but it does seem awfully coincidental.

Now if we could only get the sleep issues solved...

My life has involved more reading than usual, "How I Met Your Mother" marathons (I would so sleep with Barney Stinson), and the occasional card-making. I'll hopefully get around to posting some more of my cards soon.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My favourite time of the year is fast approaching. Soon the local vegetable stands at the side of the road will be popping up, loaded with fresh, local produce. It all starts in June with a few of my favourites: cucumbers, peas, and strawberries. But the thing I'm looking most forward to this year is garlic scapes!

Garlic scapes are the leaf-less stem of the garlic plant. They have a milder taste than the garlic bulb they grow from, like a cross between garlic and green onions. I have seen them popping up in most grocery stores the past couple of years, but you'll definitely find them in abundance at your local farmer's market. The scapes are harvested a couple of weeks before the bulb, so they are only available for a short time.

You can use garlic scapes anywhere you'd normally use green onions or garlic (but with a much milder flavour). Try chopping them up on salad, mixed into an omelet, or my favourite, made into pesto! Scape pesto is delicious on crostini, mixed with mayonnaise on a sandwich, or a great addition to scrambled eggs. I like to make up a big batch of pesto, some for immediate use on pasta, and the rest to be frozen and stored for later use. Of course, it doesn't last long at my house.

I'm especially excited this year because I joined a community supported agriculture group and one of the first items I'm expecting in my bounty this June are garlic scapes. There's nothing like fresh, picked-today, produce, but I'll have more about that next time.

Scape Pesto:

1 cup chopped garlic scapes
1/2 fresh grated parmesan cheese
olive oil (1/2 to 3/4 cups)
handful of pine nuts or walnuts (optional)

Process the garlic scapes in a food processor until well pureed. Add the cheese and nuts (if using). Process until smooth. Keeping the food processor running, add olive oil until combined.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


I've been leaving Heidi and Amelia with my neighbour fairly often lately. I take her daughter once a week while she works, so she's been taking my girls a few hours a week while I do various other things (work, shower, clean, make cards... all the things that are nearly impossible to do with 2 little ones running around). Leaving Heidi is still hard, but she has so much fun over there. She and Sierra are 3 months apart and such good friends. It's so cute to see them together. Sierra gets excited and says: "Heidi, Heidi, Heidi" whenever we she sees her.

Amelia and River, on the other hand, are like brother and sister. They love to play together but get easily frustrated with each other. They both want/need to be in control of what ever game they are playing. I wonder if it's an oldest child thing, or if they are just that similar, personality-wise. Everything I've heard about River as a baby, parallels my experiences with Amelia.

I feel so fortunate to have their family as neighbours. It's strange how people come into your life right about the time you need them.

New cards

The first is a Thank You card for my neighbours, who provided great entertainment for the street party I helped organize. The "thanks" I cut out using my friend's Cuttlebug. I'm thinking of buying myself one for Mother's Day.

Today I made a whole batch of Mother's Day cards. The first is a new card for my Mother-in-law. Kendrick didn't like that my Mom's card was nicer than his... Next time he can make his own. I'm going to give the old one to my sister-in-law.

I made the next one for my sister. I had no "Aunt" stamps, but I figured this sentiment would work. I used my left-over pieces from above card, a stamp from my day at Sheena's, and my new ribbon and brads.

This one I made for my next-door neighbour who I do shared care with. Her kids are the same ages and mine and Amelia likes to call her "Mama".

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Kids say the darnedest things...

I seem to always be writing about funny things Amelia says. Oh well. It's not like I live an exceptionally exciting life.

Today's word of the day: smokerette
Usage: "There's a smokerette on the grass."

I guess I'll be picking up cigarette butts later today.

Heidi sneezed a couple of days ago and then very clearly said "Excuse me." Even Amelia heard it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Funny things Amelia says...

"You bought yourself new sunglasses. You're a lucky girl."

Oh, and peek-a-boo is a totally underrated game. I could play it with Heidi for hours.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Introduction to our Food Issues

I love to cook and I love to try out new recipes. When my now three-year old daughter started showing signs of food allergies and sensitivities, you would think I’d have had an easy time adjusting to dietary changes. Not so. I was overwhelmed by all the sudden restrictions that were placed on not only my daughter's diet, but our whole household as well.

We became militant label-readers. We had to avoid all sugars, yeast, dairy, and eggs, and limit wheat. After a few stressful trips to the grocery store ("There's sugar in THAT?"), I finally decided that fresh vegetables and homemade snacks were the only way to go. I started baking with different types of flour, using natural sugar alternatives, and playing with egg substitutes.

The hardest meal I found dealing with was breakfast. Have you read the labels on breakfast cereals lately? I can't even pronounce most of what's on there. And, even in the "healthy" cereal options, sugar is most often the second ingredient. The days of toast and jam or a bowl of boxed cereal were over. I began serving steel-cut oats, teff, and buckwheat pancakes, rice pudding made with coconut milk, and millet porridge.

For snacks, I puree roasted peppers or add dried herbs to olive oil and lemon juice to create healthy dips to make veggies more enticing. My daughter also likes roasted, spiced chickpeas or rice cakes with sunflower butter.

When living with food intolerances, there are options out there, you just have to be open to a little experimentation and imagination! For us, things got easier, a routine was developed. And, within 2 months of changing the way we ate, my daughter's condition improved dramatically, and we all felt a lot healthier.

New cards

I actually did have some time this afternoon to make some cards. The first is for my next-door neighbour and Amelia's best friend, River, who turns 4 on Thursday. All the stamps are from the stash I made at a play date with a good friend a couple of months ago.

Then, I got a headstart on Mother's Day. I got to use my beautiful new paper on cards for my Mom and Kendrick's Mom. The first one is for my Mom and the second is for my mother-in-law.

I'm already looking forward to my next hour of free time.

Happy Easter!

Well today has been a much better day (so far). Amelia enjoyed her Easter egg hunt. I filled some plastic eggs with stamps, ink, stickers, chapstick, and foam letters. So much better than candy. She spent a good hour quietly playing with her loot rather than eating chocolate and bouncing off the walls. I'm going to continue the tradition of plastic eggs and no chocolate, even when it gets to the point when Amelia can eat sugar again.

Heidi is officially walking now. She took her first steps last week, but they were wobbling, lunging steps. Now she quite confidently walks about 5 steps, stops, continues walking, and then sits down. I guess this means I'll have to talk baby-proofing to the next level.

Heidi is so much fun. She loves playing peek-a-boo... even with Artemis. It's hilarious!

Amelia is verbalizing and using grammar so well suddenly. Today when we were playing "shopping", she said, "I bought that butter yesterday and it said it didn't need to be refrigerated." Huh? Where did you learn that? I find language development so interesting! Obviously, considering my background. She was so slow to start, but she has really advanced over the winter.

So that's it for now. I must get the house organized for tomorrow's Easter dinner and then hopefully I'll have a couple of hours to make some cards or something while Amelia is at Granny's.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Terrible threes?

Wow. Nothing like being apologized to for being bitten, only to be bitten again before the whole apology is out. Today is not a good day.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

New blog!

I'm so new to this whole blog-thing and I've already been asked to be a regular contributor to a food-related blog. How excited am I?! Now to start thinking of topics.... I'm not so much of a "foodie" since the kids arrived. I still am at heart, but I just don't have the time like I used to. Plus, inviting friends over becomes such a hassle now. I have to worry about the state of home, a menu that is food-allergy friendly, and working things around nap-times and bedtimes and tantrum-times. I love entertaining and I love my friends, but it's just not worth the stress!

I'm planning to focus my contributions on eating naturally, dealing with food allergies, creating kid-friendly meals, and joining a local CSA. We shall see how it goes. I'm also hoping to maybe snag some freebies out of it since it is the blog for a highly-rated, nationally-syndicated TV show. Maybe we'll get some free cow out of it... :-)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Happy Birthday, Monkey!

Three years ago today:

  • my life suddenly and completely changed.
  • instead of discovering how amazing child-birth can be, I discovered my body doesn't work as it's supposed to.
  • I was lying on an operating table, thinking how surreal it all was.
  • at 21:45, I birthed the most beautiful, smart, and spirited baby girl.

Wow, it's been 3 long, wonderful years. I say long, but they've also gone by so quickly too, if that makes any sense at all. We've definitely had our issues (ummm... no sleep, allergies, no sleep, food sensitivities, no sleep), and it's been a difficult road to navigate, but I have grown so much having this little girl in my life. I have had to give up or change so many aspects of my life, but in exchange I got this beautiful child that thinks I am the world. What could be better than that?

So a big happy Birthday to my Monkey! Time sure has flown by. Sniff.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Whiny, whiny, whiny

My god, Amelia has gotten so whiny! She talks in a whiny voice constantly. Even simple statements become whines: "I have my shoes on." Seriously, enough! I pretend I don't understand what she's saying whenever she whines and she usually immediately changes her tone. Hopefully this is a short phase.

Amelia's third birthday is on Monday. I am very anti-big plastic things, but we had to buy her this cash register/check-out setup. It's huge, and it's ugly, but she will love it. She forces us to play "payer" All. The. Time. so this is perfect. She's hilarious to play with because she takes her cashier job so seriously: always says "have a good day!" At least I know that my good manners are rubbing off on her. Of course this new setup will force us to play "payer" even more. What were we thinking?

Heidi is so smart. She's got the waving thing down pat. We say "hi Heidi" and she starts waving. She also high-fives on cue. Amelia never did that sort of thing. The only thing she's still not responding to is sign language. I think she'll be verbal sooner than Amelia though, so sign language may not be as necessary. Time will tell.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

TV, sign language, and other things.

So I had my satellite cancelled. It's been one week now and the world hasn't ended and I've only been bored once. So far life is good. It's nice not having to schedule my daily happenings around a pre-determined TV schedule (yes - I often did this!).

I am focusing on teaching Heidi sign language now. We're working on "milk", but she just laughs or high-fives me every time I sign it. Maybe sign language isn't her thing. I think she'll be talking before we know it anyway. Amelia waited a long time before talking so the ability to sign with her was really important.

We had Alli's before-baby tea yesterday. Heidi got her first french kiss. Sadly, the boy is somewhat related to her. Amelia went to Little Rays Reptiles with Kendrick. She's the only kid in our group who wanted to hold the tarantula. I'm glad I wasn't there.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Funny conversation

Me: Some days you're pretty funny.
Amelia: No, ALL days I'm funny.

Yup, I'm doing it...

So I'm starting a blog. I thought I could use some place to keep track of my girls and all the fun (and trouble) they are up to. Things are changing so quickly and since there won't be any more little ones in my life for many many years, I want to make sure I capture it all somewhere. Don't be surprised if I stray off topic a bit too... We all need a place to vent sometimes.