Saturday, December 31, 2011

Potty Training | Day 2

The boy's going to be three in March, he doesn't like wearing diapers and he definitely knows 'the baby' wears them.  But, he doesn't like the potty; we don't think he's afraid of it, he watches us, tries to flush and used to wave 'bye bye'.  But, he also doesn't like new things and potty training is definitely a change.  I don't want to physically force him and I don't want to make it hard for him, but I've suspected for a while he was ready.

Then on Thursday he asked for 'no diapers', which I allowed, but as soon as I stepped into the kitchen he started peeing, all over his brother's new Amazing Animals Sing & Go Choo-Choo.

I don't necessarily think it was completely intentional, but I don't necessarily think it was coincidental either.

I asked on Twitter and Facebook and came across some good reading about a 3 day potty training plan.  It makes sense to me, don't confuse the kid by sometimes wearing diapers and sometimes wearing underwear.  Just slap on the big boy pants, tell him he's a big boy, give him lots of praise and make your entire day (well 3 days) completely about his pee.

Yesterday we went for it.

I had one of my best friends and her son over for the morning, which meant I had an extra pair of hands to help out with the boys, and the hubs had a half day at work for the new year, so I wasn't on my own.

Yesterday, we learned the boy has some serious bladder control.

He danced, he bounced, he squatted and of course he assumed the position; knees together, hands between the legs.  He didn't want to pee in those big boy pants, but he sure didn't want to go in the potty either.  He made it about 2.5 hours all toll and he spent over an hour putting off the accident.

Today, we got him to sit on the potty.

A definite improvement on crying 'no' and standing up immediately.  I took a suggestion to 'find his currency'  to heart and we've given a few Hot Wheels for his big achievements and designated a Lightning McQueen notebook only for use on the potty.  Then, around 4 this afternoon, we pulled the potty into the living room and got him to sit down (in the midst of an accident) with a new Dora book he got for Christmas and he finally relaxed.

Success! He peed in the potty.

It only happened once, but its still pretty fantastic all things considered.  Thank goodness the hubs was home, we're both exhausted and the boy is too, but I think we'll all be happier when the boy's out of diapers.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Merry Christmas | Not-So-Wordless Wednesday

It's hard to believe that the whirlwind that is Christmas has come and gone.  The boy still has a pile of presents under the tree and has taken to saying 'Merry Presents' rather than Merry Christmas.  It's the first year he's had any sort of understanding of Christmas, or even the concept of presents.

Seeing Christmas through the boy's eyes make's everything new again, from the small Steveston Santa Parade, to the overwhelming barrage of Christmas presents, its nearly impossible not to enjoy Christmas with an eager toddler in tow.
The bridge Wheelies Ramp BrothersTrain Table
As I hoped, my Merry Christmas came in the form of a brand new, custom Sony Vaio laptop; unfortunately it came equipped with Photoshop Elements and I've been using Lightroom, so I have some researching and learning to do before my photos will be looking all beautiful with rounded again.  I'm also hoping to learn to do a quick and easy watermark.

I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas, Hanukkah or holiday season spent with those you love.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Quinoa Minestrone Soup | gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free recipe

As much as I try to feed my children healthy, nutritious food, I admit that sometime its hard.  Like when its the holiday season, you have one son with mono and another whose teething like crazy and you're up far more than you want to admit in the night.  Sadly one of the things that tends to slide in those tough motherhood moments is the food and as of late the boy has had more lunches consisting of hot dogs or grilled Daiya cheese and ham sandwiches than I'd care to admit.

That said when I got my act together and made him some homemade fish sticks, yam fries and kale chips for lunch the other day he eagerly gobbled it all up.  This simply reminded me that his tastes are tailored to healthy, delicious foods because that's what I feed him and so I realized its time to get back on track; poor food choices should never really be an option.

So I pulled out my Quinoa 365 book and made one of my favourites, Quinoa Minestrone.  It's fairly thick and I consider it a stoup (thanks Rachael Ray for coining the term), in fact I like to use a scant measurement for the quinoa just to keep it a little thinner.  This stoup is delicious fresh and although the flavours are still great the next day, the quinoa just keeps absorbing the liquid and it gets quite thick the next day, so this time around I opted to make a half batch, which was more than enough for the three of us with one bowlful leftover.  This soup takes about 45 minutes from start to finish, veggies chopping included, so its more than possible to decide to make it at 11am and have it on the table in time for lunch.

This is a great meal for the entire family, the baby happily enjoyed this stoup with us for lunch; he's moving to chunkier foods and I was surprised to find that he was happy to eat it without any pureeing.  You could try making it without cheese and pureeing for younger babies, but the cheese (Daiya in our case) really gives the soup a creamy texture and taste.  The original recipe calls for parmesean, so if your family eats dairy please feel free to re-substitute it back in for the Daiya).
quinoa minestrone
Quinoa Minestrone Soup
Adapted from Quinoa 365 by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming
(Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free & Soy-Free)

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup diced carrot
  • 1 cup diced potatoes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes, including liquid
  • 3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 cup diced zucchini
  • 1/2 cup Daiya vegan cheese
  • 1 cup thinly sliced spinach
  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and saute the onion, carrots, potatoes and salt until the onion is tender, about 7 minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes and liquid, stock, quinoa and garlic, bring to a boil. 
  3. Simmer partially covered, stirring occasionally, until quinoa and vegetables are tender, about 18 minutes.
  4. Add the zucchini and half of the the Daiya cheese.  Allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the spinach and cook for an additional minute.
  6. Ladle into bowls, top with remaining Daiya cheese and enjoy!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Last Minute Gift Ideas | Hallmark Press Pause Panel

I'm starting to get excited, Christmas is only a few short sleeps away.  I can't wait to see the boys face when he sees the tree and the presents waiting for him.  I can't wait to see his delight at his new toys and watch as he enjoys them.  Of course its the baby's first Christmas so that's exciting too, though he won't really know what's going on, I'm positive I'll catch him eating paper.
Rockin' Talking Santa Hat
All that being said, I have a lot of wrapping to do.  My shopping is pretty much complete and this year Hallmark helped me out in that department.  Check out some of the great stuff I received as a member of the Hallmark Press Pause Panel.

The Rockin' Talking Santa Hat is super fun, not only does it sing Santa Clause is Coming to Town it dances back and forth all on its own.    The hat has a full frame on the inside so its a little heavy and won't fit a toddlers head, though they might just dance along.

Merry-Okee And where there's dancing, there's often singing and the Merry-okee microphone transforms you into an elf with the push of the button.  I love the elf voice, but neither the boy or the hubs seems to get quite as much joy from it as I do.  Merry-okee comes with six pre-recorded holiday songs to sing along with, including 'silly versions'.

Wayne Gretsky Ornament This is our first year with a full-size tree, so we can finally really start amassing our own family collection of ornaments.  The Wayne Gretsky Ornament is perfect for Hockey Loving Canadian dads; the hubs is getting one this year.

Have an early reader in the house? Jingle the Husky Pup Interactive Storybook and Story Buddy are super fun, read your child the story and as you read along jingle will jump right in and bark, whimper and sing.  The best part?  I was at Wal-Mart yesterday and saw Jingle in store. Jingle the interactive pup

Hallmark has been helping us remember to 'Press Pause' because Life is a Special Occasion all year long, and now they want to help us celebrate Christmas.  What are you doing to 'Press Pause' this holiday season?

I received Hallmark product for the purposes of this post, however all opinions are my own.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Toddler Allergy Testing

Allergies are my reality, nearly everyone in my family is afflicted, including the hubs' side of the family. We have symptoms ranging from anaphylaxis to oral allergies and pretty much everything in between, so it kind of felt like a given that our children would have allergies, to something.  So far the baby seems to be showing no indication of sensitivity, but as you all know the boy is a completely different story.

We've been waiting since January, when the mere touch of a peanut butter sandwich sent the boy to the hospital, to see the allergist at Children's Hospital (the reason the boy had bloodwork a couple weeks ago).  Although I received a pamphlet in the mail, I wasn't sure entirely sure what the visit would entail and whether we would be doing any testing at the appointment.  Regardless, I came prepared with snacks, juice and 'Bear' just in case.
allergist report
I needed them all.

I was fortunate enough to have Kat along to watch the baby and walk him around in the Ergo carrier, I'm not sure what I would have done without her.  Although I was excited about getting some insight into the boys allergies, I was less than thrilled with an appointment at 1:30pm; at our house naptime starts promptly at one.

After a consult with the resident doctor and a chat with the supervising allergist, it was time to whip off the boys shirt and doing some prick tests.  He was tested for 23 allergens and had at least minor reactions to most of them, however he only showed up allergic to a handful.

In fact the only food allergen identified was peanuts, which was expected.  The tests indicated that he is likely outgrowing his dairy allergy and that his reactions to soy and wheat are not significant.  Which means that we have to begin slowly re-introducing dairy, soy and wheat into the boys' diet.

The allergist also identified cats, dust mites and grass pollen as allergens for the boy, which means we need to get extremely diligent about cleaning his bedroom.

All in all, our trip to the allergist was a positive one and I'm excited for the boy to start trying new foods again.  I simply hope that the allergist is right and that he can tolerate these allergens particularly now that his eczema is (for the most part) under control.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Roadhouse Bake Shoppe

As a gluten-free connoisseur I don't frequent bakeries much these days, but when I heard about a local family owned business, that chooses to sell gluten-free items (baked off-site in a dedicated space), in need of some patrons this holiday season, I decided to help spread the word.

The Roadhouse Bake Shoppe is located in the Surrey / White Rock area of the lower mainland and is located right next door to the family's restaurant McJacs Roadhouse Grille.  With the holiday season rapidly upon us, the opportunity to make homemade baked goods is slipping away, however with a quick stop at the Roadhouse Bake Shoppe, you won't have to show up at any of your holiday engagements empty handed.

The Roadhouse carries a number of items from the O'Delish Gluten Free Bakery including gluten-free Christmas cake, breads, cookies, muffins, chips, donuts, stuffing mix and lentil crackers.  For those of you that are also dairy-free, don't despair, O'Delish will make your items dairy-free upon request, just give the Roadhouse Bake Shoppe a call and pre-order.  I'm literally salivating at the thought of walking into a bakery and having so many gluten-free options.

Did you notice the logo also says 'Cheese Market'?  I may be off dairy for the time being, but I am a cheese addict through and through.  Once the baby stops breastfeeding, I'll be in serious need of a cheese market.

For those of you that love pictures and a bit of sentimentality, check out what Shasher has to say about the Roadhouse Bake Shoppe.

Although I've never been to the Roadhouse Bake Shoppe, next time I'm in the area I will absolutely be stopping in to sample the delicious gluten-free delights and pick up a little something gluten-full for the hubs.

The Roadhouse Bake Shoppe can be found online and on Facebook and Twitter and the O'Delish Gluten-Free Bakery can be found online and on Facebook and Twitter.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Searching for Equal Sweetener at Starbucks | #Cbias #EqualCanada

Starbucks Drive Through Absolutely no question about it, I love coffee.  I love the way the scent permeates your nose and the flavour washes over your mouth.  I just love it.  And my coffee of choice, for a long time, has been a Starbucks Americano.  These days my americano's are decaf and without cream but still equally delicious.

So when I had the chance to go for a coffee in search of Equal I knew exactly where I was going.  I was hoping to go for a leisurely coffee with my mom, where we'd have time to sit and chat, sans children and just relax.  Unfortunately, time to myself hasn't been in the cards for the past week. If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, then you probably already know the boy has mono (I had no idea toddlers could get it) and I've barely left the house.
Starbucks Holiday Cups
So when I had the opportunity to run some errands with my sister for an hour, I jumped at the chance, as long as there was time for a Starbucks run. For me, even in the midst of the chaos, Starbucks always feels like a momentary break.  I particularly love when the red holiday cups come out and all the festivity that follows.

12 days of ChristmasWhile waiting on my coffee, I had the chance to talk with my Barista about sugar substitutes and was pleased to find that they carried three different options, including Equal.  During the course of our conversation she explained to me that drive-through customers have the opportunity to choose the sweetener of their choice and that most people have a brand specific preference.  We also discussed Equal Surcalose, now available in Canada.

Americano & Equal
I think its great that there are so many sugar substitute options at Starbucks Canada and I took the time to fill out an online Starbucks comment card to let them know that I appreciate the sweetener choices they provide their customers.  I also wanted to compliment the helpfulness of the baristas.

And because I'd love to be able to buy the boy a kids 'steamed milk' and I because I miss dairy myself, I also requested the presence of a non-dairy, non-soy milk alternative such as rice or coconut milk.

You can find #EqualCanada on their website, on Twitter and on Facebook.

This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias #CBias, however all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Why I Make Homemade Baby Food | Starting Solids V4

After flopping on the couch, exhausted from a day with the kids and an afternoon chock full of babyfood making, the hubs turned to me and said, ‘why don’t you just buy your babyfood like everyone else?’  I looked at him dumbfounded for a moment before I started spouting off all the benefits of making your own babyfood.

Cost – when you consider that a little 4.5 oz jar of baby food costs close to a dollar and most fruits and vegetables cost somewhere between one and two dollars per pound, it becomes obvious that making your own babyfood is far more economical.  For example, I just bought close to five pounds of Bartlett pears for under five dollars, those pears will make approximately four whole trays of babyfood and at 12 oz per tray that’s about 48 oz of babyfood.  For the same price I could buy about four to five jars of baby food (unless they are on a super sale), which (in this example) makes homemade babyfood about half the cost.

Taste – have you ever tasted jarred babyfood?  It tastes funny.  It’s so processed that the natural flavours barely shine through the super strained purees.  I want my carrot baby food to taste like carrots and my pears to taste like pears; otherwise I can’t help but wonder if my babe will recognize the flavour once he moves on to table foods.  As far as I'm concerned, the thicker stage 2 and 3 jarred baby foods are in a class all their own, they taste gross, they smell disgusting and my spoiled, homemade baby food eating kid wanted nothing to do with them when I took the boy travelling to China at eight months old.

Nutrition – it’s no surprise that fresh, whole foods are the most nutritious options for the entire family, so it follows that fresh homemade food is a good choice for baby.  I have been known to occasionally grab a few beginner purees from the store, for those days that I haven’t quite got up the gusto to make baby food, but only after carefully reading the labels.  Many jarred baby foods (particularly the stage 2 and 3 variety) have high water, salt or sugar contents.  Remember the order the ingredients are listed are an indication of the composition of the food; water should never be the first ingredient.

From a nutrition standpoint, not only does homemade baby food give me complete control over what my baby consumes, it also allows me to introduce foods, like the superfood quinoa, that are not readily available in jarred foods. 

Texture – last, but certainly not least, making my own babyfood gives me the power to gradually introduce texture to my boys.  There’s no need to go directly from super-pureed to chunky foods.  When the baby started eating solids, I pureed everything until smooth, now I puree until there is just a hint of texture.  I also  make a point of having at least one slightly chunkier food available throughout the week to slowly ease the transition towards table foods.

In essence, by making my own babyfood, I’m saving money, retaining control of what my baby eats and  giving him a chance to taste the flavours of a well-rounded, wholesome and nutritious diet that I hope he will carry forward through his entire life.  

Do you make your own babyfood or do you buy it from the store?  What prompted that decision?

Monday, December 5, 2011

High Crow Gluten Free Christmas Giveaway

Although I love to bake, the ultimate treat is an allergen-friendly gluten-free goodie that I didn't have to make myself and for that, I always turn to High Crow Gluten Free Foods.   This giveaway is direct from High Crow to you, read on for more information from Julie regarding this amazing prize.

Tis the season to indulge in some GF holiday baking! And why not accompany it with a cup of tea in a one-of-a-kind High Crow MUG while wearing your new High Crow T-SHIRT?!

Enter for a chance to win a gift basket full of High Crow baking, plus a High Crow mug and High Crow T-shirt (size M). All entries will be collected and a winner announced the evening of Wednesday December 15th. Giveaway is 
open to Lower Mainland residents only.  

Enter using the Rafflecopter after the jump...

Surviving Toddler Bloodwork

Ever since the boy ended up in the hospital after touching apeanut butter sandwich crust back in January, we’ve been on the waitlist to see the pediatric allergist.  We finally have an appointment this month and the allergist has requested some bloodwork.  To say I was nervous about taking my 2.5 year old, who doesn’t like to be touched, to have bloodwork would be putting things mildly.  I actually found myself feeling a bit anxious about the whole ordeal; I had visions of him screaming and flailing while I failed to restrain him.

Fortunately, I am neither the first nor the last mother to be in this situation, so I turned to social media looking for words of wisdom, advice or guidance.  Of course you all stepped up and shared tons of great solutions; here are the ones we used.  Special thanks to my Facebook Fans who were full of fabulous advice.

“Make sure he's well hydrated or they'll have trouble finding a vein...”

 The boy usually drinks tons of water, but of course the morning of his bloodwork he just didn’t seem thirsty.  I needed to pull out the big guns, he guzzled a cup of (half water) juice in about 5 minutes flat.  I also gave him a juicebox while we were waiting at the lab.

“Bring food. His favourite food. From my experience, a crying child usually finds comfort/distraction in yummy stuff :)”

This one comes courtesy of a friend who happens to be a nurse, so she has lots of experience with crying children.  Although I can’t speak for others, the boy loves his food.  The word snack literally grabs his attention and is usually followed by an adorable face and the words ‘want snack.’  I brought more snacks than could humanly be needed during the visit and saved his absolute favourite, a Halloween sized bag of popcorn twists for after the bloodwork was done.  A snacking boy is a happy boy at my house.

“Take a bottle of bubbles with you. When they are going to take the blood pull them out and have him blow them away from the side they are doing the blood work. He will be pre-occupied, Good luck!”

Although we didn’t end up needing them, I loved knowing that I had an ace up my sleeve, the boy goes nuts for bubbles, what a great distraction.  I love to buy the wedding bubbles at dollar stores, they create tons of tiny bubbles, they are compact and they don’t leave you with soapy fingers.

“Hit the dollar store after for toys and stickers!!!”

There haven’t been many instances that I feel warrant rewards, but getting blood drawn seems pretty valid.  Fortunately there was a dollar store in the same plaza as the lab and before we were even at the store I’m pretty sure he’d forgotten about having the bloodwork.  I think he felt pretty spoiled to have a chance to be in the store without his brother, getting to pick a toy was pretty much a bonus.

All in all, getting bloodwork for the boy was manageable and not anywhere near as horrible, for him or me, as I anticipated.  He didn’t like being restrained, but we plopped him in my lap, I used my leg to hold down his legs, wrapped my arm around him to hold one arm down and then one nurse held his arm still while the other did the bloodwork.  By the time they were on the last vial he was barely struggling.  After a hug, snack and the promise of a new toy the tears subsided and we were on our way.

How old was your child when he/she had bloodwork?  Do you have any other tips for making things go easier?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Eating Gluten Free: Are you getting all your nutrients? | Guest Post

If you're wondering what nutrient deficiencies arise by following a gluten-free diet, I'll let you in on a big secret.

There isn't a nutrient found in a gluten-filled grain or food product that you can't obtain elsewhere. In other words, you ain't missing out on nothin'.

Like Amber, I avoid gluten and dairy and am often questioned by well-meaning friends and strangers about how I get enough of certain vitamins and minerals. When it comes to allergen-free diets, there's an erroneous perception that you must deprive yourself of vital nourishment (and tasty food, too). 

Let's talk about gluten for a moment. Gluten is a protein found in grains like whole wheat, barley, spelt, kamut and rye. Of all the gluten-containing grains, wheat is the most ubiquitous in our food culture, found in everything from soups and sauces to shampoo and medications.

I won't deny that whole wheat has its benefits. It can promote digestive health, heart health and blood sugar balance. Wheat is also a good source of important nutrients like fibre, amino acids, B vitamins (which are essential for energy and nerve function), vitamin E, magnesium, iron and zinc.

Unfortunately, most of the whole wheat on the market has been so processed, hybridized and refined that many of these nutrients have been stripped away.  Dr. William Davis, author of the new book 'Wheat Belly', says another downside of wheat is it makes you fat.

However, gluten-free grains have fibre, amino acids, B vitamins and the rest of the gang, too.

Let's do a little comparison shopping. A cup of quinoa has more than double the iron, four times the vitamin E, four and a half times the essential fatty acids and significantly higher amounts of zinc, mangnesium, calcium and potassium than a cup of whole wheat.

Brown rice has nearly 20 times the amount of selenium - a potent cancer-fighting antioxidant - than whole wheat. Buckwheat (despite the name, it's gluten-free) has more vitamin K, magnesium and potassium than whole wheat, along with 35 percent less sodium.

But you know what else has plenty of vitamins, minerals, proteins, essential fats and fibre? Fruits and vegetables. Beans and legumes. Nuts and seeds. Lean meat and fish.

A diet rich in these foods (especially the fruits and veggies) is what will keep you in good stead. Wheat has only been cultivated for about 12,000 years – yet us humans have been around far longer than that. It's estimated that 300,000 Canadians and two million Americans have celiac disease, and yet there haven't been reports of these people dropping like flies. So I think it's safe to say that gluten isn't essential to our survival.

I believe that the biggest challenge of shifting to a gluten-free diet is making the commitment to cook at home. Gluten-free diets, or any alternative diets for that matter, propel us to forgo pre-prepared, processed convenience foods in favour of old-fashioned home cooking.

Eating a gluten-free diet of freshly-cooked, whole foods is simple and delicious once you learn the basics, and it definitely provides you with all of the nutrients you need to thrive. So please don't let anyone guilt you into thinking you or your child cannot be healthy because you choose to eliminate gluten. 

Sondi Bruner is a Vancouver-based food blogger, freelance writer and holistic nutrition student who believes that fresh, whole foods contain tremendous power. Explore gluten-free, dairy-free and vegetarian recipes on her blog, The Copycat Cook