Monday, September 30, 2013

Fall Foto Friday Do-Over

I kind of felt guilty that my "sweet treat" photo wasn't something that I had actually baked, so I decided to try out a new recipe on Saturday.  It turned out really well, so I thought I would share it.


yeilds 12 muffins

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla

-Line/ grease muffin cups; set aside.
-In large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, ginger, cloves and nutmeg.
-In separate bowl, whisk together eggs, pumpkin puree oil and vanilla
-Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients. 
-Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. 
-Spoon into prepared muffin cups. 
-Bake in centre of 375°F (190°C) oven until golden and tops are firm to the touch, 20 to 25 minutes. 
-Let cool in pan on rack for 5 minutes. 
-Transfer to rack; let cool. 

But here's what REALLY makes these muffins irresistible...


1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/8 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

-In a small saucepan, melt butter and syrup together over medium heat. 
-Whisk confectioners' sugar into hot mixture until smooth. 
-Immediately pour over cooled muffins.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Fall Foto Friday

S and Jackie teamed up to create the Fall Foto Fridays challenge.  I love these and look forward to playing along.

Here's my photo (or foto ;) ) for this week on the theme of baked goods/sweet treats:

Jen's birthday was on Tuesday.  Her birthday treat of choice is donuts, so even though she generally tries to avoid wheat, she indulged that day.

The Bean had a funny reaction to everyone singing her Happy Birthday.  Jen was amused.  This photo captures the moment perfectly.  :)

{this moment} splish splash

A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

 If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Inspired by SouleMama.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Book Review: Books for Fall

With the start of the cooler weather, we decided to change out some of the books that had been in our book basket (i.e. books that are in high rotation versus those on the shelf --though The Bean and Sprout have access to all of them) and put new books on a bit of a "fall" theme.

Little Scholastic's Welcome Fall
A quick little touch-and-feel book.  Sprout is really into these right now.  Each page features a simple picture about something that you can do or that happens in the fall.  The last page reads "It's fall!  And you're safe and sung in Daddy's arms."  which can easily be changed to "Mommy's arms."

Zoe's Windy Day 
by Barbara Reid
The Bean LOVED this books when he was younger, and still seems to really enjoy looking at the pages.  The illustrations are made of Plasticine and have a lot of lovely detail.  The text is very simple, only a few words on each page, and the whole book reads like a short poem rather than a story.  There is a lot of room for discussion around the illustrations though.

Let it Fall
by Maryann Cocca-Leffler
A cute rhyming book about various fall activities.  (Also, it features a baby-wearing dad!)

by David Ezra Stein
A short story about a bear's first winter.  He shows concern about the leaves falling, then, growing sleepy, accepts it, and happily wakes up in the spring and welcomes the leaves back.

The Leaves on the Trees
by Thom Wiley
illustrated by Andrew Day
In addition to loving children's books I am quite well-versed in children's songs (no pun intended).  This book can be sung to the tune of London Bridge is Falling Down and goes through different trees and what their leaves look like when they start to change.  As someone who is not so good at identifying leaves, I found this book to be a great resource!  I could also see using it as a reference for fall leave collecting with kiddos just slightly older than The Bean (4-7 or so).

Leaves Fall Down, Learning about Autumn Leaves
by Lisa Bullard 
illustrated by Nadine Takvorian
Definitely a "teacher book" this book talks about how leaves need sunlight to make their food, but how with the decreased sunlight in the fall how they can't do that anymore, so they start to change colour and fall.  It talks about leaves decomposing and how this can help fertilize soil.  It would probably be the most interesting to a kid who asks "why" a lot. ;)

What seasonal books are you reading these days?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: This and That

Standing.  And a hat.


I asked Jen to take a picture of me nursing.  (I do it so often, it seems odd not to have one.)  Sprout got distracted by the camera.

Number work after reading Ten Red Apples by Pat Hutchins.

Another hat!

Mama's scarf!

Playing on a cool fall day.

Our little gentleman, holding open the door for us.

Sprout is Nine Months Old!

 Today Sprout is nine months old!

This is coming in a few days late.  Our little girl has been sick (fever, upset stomach) and not sleeping well the past few days.  We're all tired and hoping Sprout is back to her usual sunshine self soon.

This has been a big month for Sprout!  Lots of new things to report on, so I'll get right to it...

-At her 9 month well baby appointment yesterday she weighed in at a whopping 21.9 lbs and 28.9 in.  The pediatrician said that's about the 90th percentile on both counts.  Big girl!  (But nicely balanced in terms of length and weight.)

-No big change in clothing sizes.  Mostly 12m stuff, depending on the brand.  I recently pulled out some fall clothes and even crocheted her a cute new toque.  Yay for woolly baby goodness!

-Barring the past few days while she's been sick, we're into a pretty routine routine.  Up between 6 and 7am, napping from about 8 or 9am until about 10 or 11am, awake for another three hours, and then another shorter nap, and awake until bedtime around 7 or 8pm.  Still awake to nurse frequently overnight, though we have had a few longer stretches earlier in the night, which is wonderful when I actually make it to be early.

-She is consistently eating solids (pureed) every day at dinner.  Meats seem to be her favourite, followed by vegetables and then fruits.  Rice cereal is a no-go, which I'm fine with.  I am trying to add lunch in there as a second meal, but it's been hit or miss so far.

-It seems she's decided that crawling is no longer good enough for her and that she must be standing all.the.time.  She figured out how to pull herself up and within a matter of days started (unsteadily) cruising around.  She also figured out how to crawl "properly," but still does the army crawl about 50% of the time.

-Jen thought I was crazy, but a few weeks ago I swear she said her first word: "Up."  I will usually say "up" before picking her up, and she started repeating it back to me.  I got her to do it for Jen, who at first thought it was a coincidence, but now agrees that she's repeating it back to us.  I think she is also trying to say Mama (for real this time) and it's quite clear that she understand the sign for "milk" as when I'm getting her ready for a nap or bed and she's fussing, when I say and sign "milk" (as in, you'll be getting milk soon") she stops fussing and it often appears she tries to sign it back.  She has also started waving hi and bye and will air kiss, if you air kiss her.  (So cute!)

-She mimics a lot of behaviour --head shaking (especially when we say "no" or "silly", clapping (she waves her arms), bouncing (she will emphatically bounce in her Jolly Jumper if we jump up and down), smiling, etc.

-I've gotten a lot better about reading to her before naps and bedtime, and these days touch-and-feel books are her favourite.  We have one called Farm and she really likes the faux-fur sheepdog page and when we "woof" at her.

-She doesn't seem to have a preference for any given toy right now, aside from things she can pull up on and things she can chew on.

-She loves music and dancing in Mama or Mommy's arms.  Family dance parties have become a fairly regular occurrence.

-Ever the second child, she is usually content to be in the same room as the action, but lets her big brother demand most of the attention.  And goodness does she love that boy.  As he does her. (Though she also gets startled by him quite easily.)

-Still no teeth, though her hand is in her mouth all the time, as evidenced by her monthly photo.

So, a lot of changes this month, and surely a lot to come in the months ahead.  Our love for her grows more quickly than she does.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Apple Picking

September arrived and it went from being summer to fall overnight.  The crispy weather has us breaking out all our sweaters and scarves, drinking extra cups of tea, and thinking about fall activities.

I find the frenzy around apple picking here somewhat odd.  I grew up in a more rural area than Toronto and some of my high school friends did manual farm labor as a part of life. So, back home, folks tend to look at that type of activity more like work than like entertainment.  Oh, city folk. I don't always understand you.

But anyway, we didn't have any plans for Saturday, so we decided to go apple picking. 

There is one very well-know orchard around here, that we sort of wanted to avoid because it feels like the Walmart of apple farms; however we're familiar with it and they have a big selection of things to do with kids, so off we went.  (Departing only an hour later than we had hoped to.)

The first thing we did was hop on the tractor ride to go and pick our bag of apples.  As expected, The Bean loved the tractor ride and was reluctant to get off when we got to our stop by the MacIntosh rows.  We assured him we would get back on the tractor once we were done picking.

In the rows, Allison showed him the proper way to pick an apple, by turning the "eye" on the bottom skyward and twisting.  He got the hang of it instantly and started running up the row tree-by-tree plucking apple after apple and plunking them into the bag that I was holding.  Allison was trying to get some nice pictures of The Bean in the idyllic setting, but the kid had other ideas -namely stripping the trees bare of fruit as quickly as he could.  I think she managed a few nice shots still and Sprout was content to sit for a long time gumming on an apple.

We didn't want to bring home a lot of apples (I can't eat them because I try to follow a strict diet called FODMAPS that's designed for people with IBS and apples are forbidden) and this farm is a buy-what-you-pick farm, so after 5 or 10 minutes we reached our quota and went back down to the tractor stop for the ride toward the other activities.

Our next stop was the petting zoo.  Their selection was about what I'd expect from a petting zoo: deer, horses, llama, sheep, chickens, goats, a calf, and even a few overweight retired farm dogs who were penned up for photo ops and ear scratching.  We spent most of our time with the horses, goats, and chickens.  You can buy food for the animals that they serve up in a cake ice cream cone, so we got one for The Bean.  He liked to give the food nuggets to the horses and goats and break up the cone to throw to the chickens. The zoo was the hardest area to navigate with the family, if you ask me.  There were a lot people clamouring to feed or touch the animals and the adults in this area seemed to be unaware that they were dominating the attention of the animals at the expense of little kids not being able to pet, see, or interact with them (yes, middle-aged lady hogging the calf, that's you!).  Our time in the animal section finished up with a family trip to the washroom where I said "Don't touch that!" about every 15 seconds for the 10 minutes we were all in the stall.

After the zoo, we stopped by the tractor yard for some climbing and another photo op then we walked nearby to the slides and I have to say I was impressed.  There was a large area filled and encircled with bales of hay with four or five pretty large slides.  The structures were permanent and super-popular.  At this point, I sat down with Sprout and Allison took The Bean off to explore and slide.  We ran into a couple the we met during the "preparing for baby" class that we took through our midwife office.  (As a side note, Allison also saw someone from high school as we were walking into the farm --an occurrence that happens more than you would think in a metropolitan area of six million people.)  After we'd been at the slides for awhile, Allison and I decided that it was time to pack it up.  It was already past nap time and we wanted to try to minimize the overtired toddler meltdown that was likely unavoidable at that point.  There were things we didn't get to, like a hay maze, pony rides, and nature trail but it was time to get back home.

On the way out, we stumbled onto a lost nine year old girl so Allison helped her get to the Lost and Found and stayed with her until someone found the friends that she had become separated from.

As we were standing in line to check out, The Bean lost his balloon (naturally), so he and I also made a sprint back inside to get another one in the hopes of avoiding the aforementioned meltdown. 

The ride home was long (30 minutes to get to the farm 60+ to get home) but we instituted quiet time and I think at least three out of the four of us got a little shut-eye at some point.

At home, Allison jumped right on prepping the apples for making homemade applesauce. The Bean switched back and forth between helping her peel and taking a bite out of every apple that had been peeled.  Sprout sat on the floor happily gumming one of the unpeeled apples.

All in all I think we all enjoyed ourselves.  Which is a good thing, because it looks like we're lined up to do more apple picking this weekend.  If Allison makes a pie I might have to rethink that diet.

Aunts Again!

We just found out that we are going to be aunts (and cousins) again!  My brother and his wife are expecting a baby in March 2014!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Donor Siblings

When we first started TTC we had to go to a mandatory psychologist appointment.  We weren't thrilled with the idea, but cost aside, it ended up being a positive experience.  One of the things we discussed with the psychologist was the Donor Sibling Registry (DSR).  Jen and I agreed that it was something we'd be interested in joining, so shortly after The Bean was born we registered.  We were disappointed when no one else who had used our donor was on it, but there wasn't anything we could do about it.  

Over the past few years I've looked for Facebook groups for our donor and occasionally even Googled his donor number wondering if anything would come up.  Nothing has.

Then last night, as I was coming out from the bedroom after putting Sprout to sleep, Jen excitedly told me that we'd been contacted through the DSR.  It was just a brief message, asking if we'd be interested in chatting and exchanging photos and the like.  We wrote back this morning, and have since added them to our Facebook friends lists and had a few brief exchanges.

They're also a two-mom family (which I feel surprisingly relieved by) and have a daughter who is ten months older than The Bean.  She and The Bean have the same eyes, though her dark hair more like Sprout's.  She's very cute and I look learning more about her and her family.  

If any readers have experiences with donor families that they want to share I'm all ears!    

Friday, September 13, 2013

{this moment} pizza in the park

A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

 If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
Inspired by SouleMama.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Sleep Training

I know this can be a sensitive topic and I've hesitated to post about it, but thoughts about sleep having been consuming many of my waking hours (of which there have been many) lately, so this is really just a ramble of what's been running through my head.

So... sleep.

I really hoped that Sprout would sleep train on her own.  I know that's naive, but it didn't stop me from hoping.  She really is quite an "easy" baby so it would have been nice if that carried over to sleep.  ...Not that she's a "bad" sleeper.  We've gotten into a fairly reasonable routine of bedtime at about 7:30pm, followed by a few minutes of rocking whenever she wakes up between then and 10:30pm-ish when we go into bed, and then nursing every three hours or so throughout the night until maybe 5:00am where she more or less stays on the boob until she gets up at 6:00 or 6:30am.  She usually doesn't cry, just fusses until she is nursed and then goes back down to sleep with minimal rocking, if any.  Fairly reasonable, right?  Except that she's still waking up to nurse every three hours.  Which means I'm only sleeping about two and half hours at a time.  And that can catch up with a girl, you know?  Anyway, all this to say that we're getting to the point where we are starting to think about sleep training.

But here's the thing, even the thought of several more months of interrupted sleep isn't enough for me to feel guiltless in letting Ms. Sprout cry, and from what I know, even the most gentle sleep training methods usually involve tears.

Back when The Bean was wee, we did a modified sort of Cry It Out.  He never cried very long, but still, it was hard.  (Jen wrote about it in this blog post.)  Read that with the knowledge that Jen was the "strong" one.  I fought back tears of my own while she reassured me that it really was going to be best for all of us.  After a few days he was going down without any fuss.  I even remember a period following his sleep training where he would happily give us goodnight kisses and then roll over and close his eyes before we shut the bedroom door.  (He's currently in a stage where he procrastinates like no one's business at bedtime, and occasionally will tell us, "I'm going to cry." when we are getting ready to leave the room.  Yet I don't struggle with this in the same way as I did/do with having a baby cry.)

So you think we'd be able to do the same thing with Sprout knowing that the results are likely to be positive.  Or we could do the other CIO method which I would describe as more of a "back away slowly" method than a "go in and check on them often" method.  But still, when I hear her fuss and know that I could go in and comfort her and I'm not, I get itchy.

She is still just a little baby.  She hasn't even been in this world as long as she was inside me (though that won't be true for much longer).  She finds joy in things like holding her hands under a running stream of water, bouncing, grabbing the cat's fur, and blowing raspberries.  She finds comfort in closeness.  Who are we to deny her that?  When I pick her up to rock her and she lets out a big sigh and puts her little dimply-knuckled hand on my chest before letting her heavy eyelids close I melt.  I am not ready to let that go yet.

Plus, any time we've started thinking about sleep training something seems to come up that makes it feel like a Really Bad Idea.  She has a cold.  She's learning to crawl.  We're going on a trip.  She's figured out how to get out of her swaddle (surely one change to the sleep routine at a time is enough!).   She's teething.  She's learning to cruise.

Still, at 2:30am it's dark and hard to see those dimply little knuckles and feel quite as nostalgic about rocking her to sleep, so maybe one day soon we'll decide it's time to give sleep training a go.

Any tips on how to do it without either baby or Mama crying are welcome!

Friday, September 6, 2013

{this moment} joy

A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

 If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
Inspired by SouleMama.