Thursday, 16 July 2015

The 2015 PanAm Games are happening in Toronto right now. It's kind of odd though. The lead up to the Games was filled with a lot of bad press and how Toronto would be destroyed by bad traffic. Now that the Games have started, however, I can see people getting more excited. We got the chance to take the girls to see two women's soccer events at the stadium in Hamilton. It was their second big sporting event of this kind. Last year, we went to a Blue Jay game and that went terribly. They absolutely hated the baseball game and we only lasted a few innings. Between that and the traffic worries, our expectations were low low low. The good news is that the PanAm event was so much fun. Traffic and parking were fine, the venue was great and the girls had a blast. It was a long night for them and I was proud of how they're growing up to be big girls. The first game (Brazil vs. Equador) was a bit boring for them but once Canada took to the field they really got into it!


Thursday, 9 July 2015

I tried to go this year without a paper agenda… and I hate it. When I saw this cute agenda for the rest of 2015 and for 2016, I picked it up. Despite how much I love my iPhone, I would still prefer to write things down on paper. This agenda came with a spot for notes, monthly outlook, weekly calendars and fun stickers too.

I was most excited to write in my plans for October!

Four and a Half

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Mia and Alexa just had another half birthday! That's right, they're already 4 and a half AND they are done junior kindergarten. It's crazy! I still think 4 is pretty much the perfect age. They are completely loveable, super smart and so much fun. A lot of things in their life as similar to what I described in their 4 year post -- the princess-obsession is waning and being replaced with big girl interests like make-up and Taylor Swift music. And yet, they still say the sweetest and most innocent things like "mommy, I want to be with you forever and live with you forever and ever". That's okay by me! 

Here are some of my random observations about life with my 4 and a half year olds:

- They have this thing called the "best buddy challenge" and if I upset them (or they upset each other) then I get thrown off the "best buddy list". It's adorable. I'm not completely sure what the challenge or list are comprised of and yet I make sure to stay on the "in". 

- They are prolific question askers and have a desire to learn about everything. They went through a phase where they were obsessed with learning about the volcanic eruption in Pompeii. Just this week they wanted to know everything about fire hydrants. School has given them the confidence to demand information about things which interest them.

- They are doing well as they learn to read and write having learned a lot from school and also from the extra work we've done at home. I have plans to keep it up over the summer. 

- They love to create things whether it's an art project, story or something completely imaginative. When the mood strikes, they can sit and work on art projects for hours. They both love to draw rainbows in particular. 

- Shopkins are currently their favourite toy, and again are part of them starting to like things that are less babyish. They also really love Beanie Boos and can't get enough of them. While they don't play with princess toys or watch Disney Junior, they still like to dress-up in the dresses and costumes. They were very happy to meet Elsa and Anna at Disney World in February, and also again at a birthday party in May... so princesses still have a place in their collective heart. 

- Going on rollercoasters has been something new for this year. They loved the rides at Disney and now are loving Wonderland with our seasons passes. 

- Playing Uno is quickly becoming a family tradition. It's great to be able to play card and board games with them. 

- They have become obsessed with the TV show Chopped and have made up their own version of the show at home with their pretend food. I thought they had completely outgrown their play kitchen but now with the Chopped-obsession, the kitchen is back in high rotation. 

- Taylor Swift and One Direction are their favourite music artists. 

- When they watch TV, they usually watch Netflix. They like Full House, Paw Patrol and Busy Town Mysteries. They loved the movie Inside Out. They also just watched the Great and Powerful Oz and were really into it (though it was challenging to describe the concept of a prequel to them). I know they'd love to watch big girl shows like My Little Pony, Monster High and those kinds of things but I'm trying to hold off on those for as long as possible. 

- They love to wear dresses and when I ask them to pick something out they will say things like "well I know for sure I'm wearing a dress". Most days, they are happy with what I pick out for them and getting dressed is uneventful. Mia likes a variety of hairstyles whereas Alexa prefers her hair in a braid (she really dislikes high pony tails or top knots lol). I picked up little mini make-up kits which they are only allowed to use for dress-up time at home and this was maybe the most exciting thing they'd ever received. Nail polish is their absolute favourite. 

- I have heard them making up their own language. How cute is that? It's not like babbling when the were babies. They sat together and made up secret words for common words. 

- All of their activities went really well this year. They had their second ballet recital in May and had much better stage presence than last year. Gymnastics just wrapped up. They passed the last session of swimming lessons and they are actually swimming now in the sense that they can be independent without puddle jumpers (at least in the shallow end). They are rocking it at soccer. They like their bikes and recently learned how to go down the fireman's poll at the park. 

- School went really well. They were always happy going to school and leaving. They made so many little friends and learned so much. At the beginning of the year, they had to play some catch-up being the youngest in the class and never having gone to daycare but in the end it made no difference. They are so excited to be senior kindergarteners. The teacher sent them home with portfolios at the end of the year and they are great keepsakes for such a special year. On their first day home from summer vacation, they spent the morning playing library. They took out all of their books, pretended to scan them and then reorganized them. 

- With it being summer, there's not much of a routine. Bedtime is around 8pm when we're home but I'm very laid back about it. They wake-up anywhere from 630-8am depending on how tired they are. They are great at mealtime and eat most anything nowadays. They are both around the 40 pound mark. Matt can barely still manage to carry them both up the stairs. Mia is around 42 inches tall and Alexa is around 45 inches tall. 

- At this age, they are so easy.... Logistically speaking. I remember the first few years as being so logistically challenging (not that I ever minded, it was always a joy). It was hard work to have two babies/toddlers. It was so hard to go anywhere and I was always worried about packing a diaper bag, baby gates and things of that nature. Nowadays, they are easy. I mean, don't get me wrong... they can be annoying when they stall or get distracted as we are trying to leave the house, and they are still messy eaters and they can bicker with each other but it's all just pretty sweet right now. We can now really share experiences with them and truly create family memories that the four of us will remember.

Always so expressive, Mia loves to choreograph and perform dance numbers, sing songs, tell stories and narrate life in general. She's into reading and writing, and wants to learn. She loves to make lists and tally sheets. She is so into watching and playing Chopped. It's generated really interesting questions like "what does bold mean" and "why does that need to be seasoned more". She is very diplomatic and does not like to pick favourites i.e. if you ask her if she likes chocolate ice cream or vanilla ice cream, she will answer "both of them". She truly never stops expressing herself. She is always talking and telling teachers the story of her life (a trait which I can undoubtedly say she got from me). She is a real sweetheart and cares so much for people, babies and animals. She got along well with everyone at school. I recently noticed the most adorable collection of trinkets under her bed. She thinks I don't know it's there but I do. It's so random (there's a bookmark, a plastic bracelet, a Luke Skywalker figurine and other trinkets). I pretend not to notice it just so that she can have her own little secret. She loves the name "Lemon" and she gives that name to all of her dolls and toys. Her scrunchy nose and sweetie-pie smile are the best.

Independent and fearless as ever, that's our little dynamo Alexa. She's the girl that wants to jump into the deep end of the pool with no life jacket and no help from anyone. She has a competitive spirit and after scoring a goal at her first soccer game, she fell in love with the game. She's really got a natural talent for the game which I think comes from being so fearless. Behind that strong exterior is the sweetest little girl with very precious emotions. Her one fear seems to be my brother's (very tiny Morkie) dog. She loves hugs and reassurance from Mommy. She loves creating art and can sit at the table with some markers, scissors and tape for hours (boy does she love tape). She also loves to play with kinetic sand, lego and puzzles. She gets a laugh out of using the action cards (like miss your turn and pick up 4) when we are playing Uno. One day she came home from school and said "mommy, I asked Sebastian to be my boyfriend". I asked "what did he say?" and she answered "he just laughed at me". She laughed it off and thought it was hilarious. She really loves her friends from school. She's really doing well at reading and writing but she would prefer to work on more creative things. She has the most infectious, heartwarming laughter.

They love each other so much and I honestly couldn't imagine either of them without the other. They are so different in every way, and yet they are connected by a bond that is so strong. 

Last Day

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Well, my girls are officially off on their last day of their first year of school. There's a kindergarten concert/celebration in a few hours and I know I will shed a few tears! 

While it's sad they're growing up so quickly, the good news is that it's officially S U M M E R.  For a while I thought I would be working this summer but it's not happening, so I feel extra appreciative to have the time with my girls for the next 10 weeks. They are so much more independent now, and so I really want to push outside of my comfort zone and do things with them that I would have been apprehensive about when they were younger. Like going to the pool with them on my own. We put together a bucket list of things for the summer to help give us ideas when boredom sets in. Not that I expect us to be bored! 


Thursday, 18 June 2015

Here are some snapshots of life these days as we countdown to the official start of our summer in just one week...

The cutest balloon

Skipping school to go strawberry picking and make strawberry cream pie

Using shapes to make Father's Day cards/decorations for Daddy (the cyclist), Nonno (the hockey player) and Papa (the golfer)

Shopkins are the favourite toy du jour

Can you guess what movie we are looking forward to?

Reading + Doodling

Saturday, 13 June 2015

I go through phases of reading a lot of books to phases of reading nothing. The past few months have been a nothing phase. I have tried to start All The Light We Cannot See for over two months and I just haven't been able to get into. I'm optimistic for the summer though, and I plan to get into reading again. Chapters is having a big sale this weekend. I picked up a few other books which I would like to read over the summer, as well as doodling books for Mia and Alexa. I saw Kelle Hampton recommend the Doodle Book series on her blog (click here) and she's always great for creative inspiration. These books serve a dual purpose: I can give them to the girls as a little reward for finishing JK and they can also keep the girls busy over the summer. It's a win win. As for me, I'm going to start with What Alice Forgot since I've enjoyed reading the other Liane Moriarty books and then move on to the others. What are you reading this summer?

What's Up?

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

With only two weeks left of school, I find myself both excited and afraid of summer. Last summer, I felt like we got burnt out by doing too much and I don't want to make the same mistake. While there is so much I want to do, see and experience with my babies over the course of our 10 week long summer break, I'm also mindful of scheduling in time for no schedules. I've planned some swimming lessons, art mini-camps, one week of gymnastics camp and a couple of fun trips plus we still have soccer on the weekends. There are also many weeks on our summer calendar where I have nothing planned, and that feels good too.

Something new for this year are Wonderland seasons passes. I grew up going to Wonderland regularly but had been really hesitant to bring the girls there. They love the rides and coasters at Disney, which means I knew they'd love them at Wonderland. The problem was that I worried about the logistics of taking two kids to a busy theme park all by myself. My worries were for nothing. We got the passes last month and have already been twice -- once with my husband and once without (and the time without him was a very busy PD day). It has been so much fun and I'm glad to have the passes and the option to go to fill in a day here or there on non-busy weeks or on weekends as a family. And since we got the passes, it feels like a free activity (well, except for the food, snacks and treats). The girls are at a height where they can still do a lot of the "baby" rides while also being able to ride some of the coasters like Ghoster Coaster and Thunder Run. We haven't tried out the water park yet and we can't wait for that. I'm hoping to pull them out of school one day before the last day of school and before the summer crowds get bigger.

Swan Lake at Wonderland

Some other random thoughts as the school year ends and summer officially begins:

- The Balanced Day lunch bags which I was so excited about at the beginning of the year started off great but the insulation ripped and the bags started to smell. Into the garbage they went. I switched back to the Pottery Barn retro lunch bags and they worked very well.

- Two summers ago I was raving about plastic water jugs as being great for play and for hydration. This still works great. This summer, I also picked up an iced tea pitcher from David's Tea as well as non-caffenieted tea. I use the pitcher to seep the loose tea (currently using Strawberry Colada) then add ice and throw it in the fridge. The girls think it's juice, ha! Except it's got virtually no sugar. It's a great refreshment.

Caffeine Free Iced Strawberry Colada 

- I love how Starbucks is rolling out the fan-inspired secret menu Frappuccinos. Not a secret anymore! I had the Cinnamon Roll and loved it. In the summer, I usually drink a tall Iced Skinny Vanilla Latte. The new Fraps are great when I feel like a special treat.

Cinnamon Roll Frap 

- This year, my group of mom friends decided to move our annual Fall photos into summer to go for a fresh new look.  This is the first time since we started the annual photos in which I have no idea or vision for the photos. I don't know if it's because we have done so many photo sessions, the girls are older or I'm just uninspired. I hope something comes to me soon!

- The girls are continuing to break out of a limited diet and are eating pretty much everything. It's so great! I still like to get vegetables in them however and whenever. This recipe for bean nuggets was actually delish!  Beans are something my kiddos aren't much interested in, and so I liked the idea of making beans look like something else. Instead of making them to look like tater tots, I made mine to look more like chicken nuggets. I have said it before -- they will try anything resembling a chicken nugget. The other change I made was to swap in Romano beans for chickpeas. The only reason for this change was because there were no chickpeas in my pantry (in the comments to the post, they said you could use any white bean for this recipe). I threw all of the ingredients (rinsed beans, egg, panko, cheese, garlic, onion) into the Vitamix and mixed it together. Then I rolled it out, cut it into slices and formed them into "nuggets". Truthfully, I tried to get these as McNugget looking as possible in terms of size and shape (even the colour of the beans is McNugget-esque). I brushed them with some olive oil and baked them for about 20 minutes. My girls were happy to have these for lunch and I was happy to have them enjoy the fibre and protein from the beans. They wore tutus to eat them because... Well, why not? I get so many recipes from Super Healthy Kids and follow them on Instagram and Pinterest.

"Chicken" Nuggets

Family Game Night

Thursday, 28 May 2015

It has been a privilege and a joy to be able to volunteer in Mia and Alexa's junior kindergarten class this year. I've been there for a few hours a week for most of the year plus I also went on both of the class field trips. It's interesting to just sit back in their class and observe them as actual PEOPLE out in the world and not just as my babies kept in our protective bubble at home. For the most part, they both behaved in the classroom the way in which I would expect them to...but sometimes I was surprised to see personality traits and interactions that I had not seen at home. Also, I got to see them really blossom over the course of the year. At the start, they were quiet, reserved and deferential to the older senior kindergarteners. Now at the end of the year, they are confident, engaged and immersed in the action. On the twin front, they mostly operated independently of one another (which is a good thing).

Recently, their teacher asked me to play the card game Uno with small groups of the children. I've never played Uno before and dismissed at this point in my parenting journey as being too advanced for my 4 year olds (it's described as age 7+). To my surprise, I had so much fun playing this game with the children. Most of them had never played before and they all picked up the rules quickly (despite all of them being well under age 7). Watching the faces of the boys and girls as they strategized about their moves was so entertaining to me. The boys found it especially fun to play action cards to trip up their classmates. And all of them found it exciting to yell "uno" when they got down to one card. Right after I left the class, I ordered the game for our family at home. I can just imagine our family playing this summer out in the backyard, when we go camping and when we travel.

It's surreal to already be at the part of parenting where we can play family games. In the past several months, we have played some of my childhood favourites like Hungry Hippos and Trouble as well as new games like BusyTown Mysteries. While all of those games were fun, they were also somewhat frustrating as the girls were just teetering on the edge of being old enough and we'd have to remind them of the rules, not touching the game pieces, etc. Uno, on the other hand, is just easy and fun. We'll keep working on the other games and I'm sure they will get more fun to play with each passing season. We may even start an official family game night soon!

This weekend is the girls' ballet recital and in one month's time, the girls will be officially 4 1/2 years old and done their first year of school. It's surreal!

Celebrating Differences

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

How cute are these Kate Spade outfits which my mom picked up for my girls?!!?  Those bows set my heart a flutter. I didn't even know Kate Spade was making girls' clothes, so these are a special treat!

This post isn't about clothes though. I'm posting to share another twin experience. Lately, we have really started to see our girls reach different milestones at different times. Just this week, Alexa started to excel at soccer (she scored three goals in her first game) whereas Mia is excelling at reading (she's participating in a school reading project). It's so challenging to try to congratulate and encourage one twin while not hurting the other twin's feelings. But we gotta do it. We can't just ignore their accomplishments just because they are achieving things at different times or making different achievements altogether. It's a very delicate balance. We repeatedly tell them that what makes them different is what makes them special (and we ask coaches/teachers to treat them as individuals). There's no better or worse, just different. This is a recurring theme on my blog and in our life with twins.

My mom gave me a great suggestion based on something she heard recently. Since the twin experience is unique in that twins experience everything in life together, they should be encouraged to do things separately. To foster a strong, healthy bond, the suggestion is to take each twin separately and have have her plan something special for her twin sister. I like this idea of having each twin think about her sister as a separate person and taken time to plan something special. I hope to try something along these lines and report back about it.

Best >>> <<< Friends

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

When I was first expecting my twins, I had no idea of the fascination with twins which we would eventually attract. I suppose I was naive to think people wouldn't be curious about my giant twin belly or my massive double stroller or seeing two sweet babies together. Mostly the attention was positive (sometimes it was negative though) but, even still, I didn't want to make too much out of it for fear of making my girls feel like a sideshow. We didn't dress them alike or even refer to them as "the twins" (we still don't). After all, as fraternal twins they are really just sisters. They are each unique and special, and we celebrate their individuality.

But I can't deny there is something special about them even as fraternal twins. They have a special bond unlike any other. While our household isn't immune to sisterly frustrations and squabbles over wanting the same toy, it's filled mostly with laughter and hugs. These t-shirts from monkeydoodle so perfectly capture the essence of the bond which Mia and Alexa share. They are sparkly, stylish and express to the world the beauty of having a built-in best friend.

The bestest of friends

Tees: c/o monkeydoodle | Headbands: twolittlebeesbtq |
Mia's pants: Zara | Alexa's pants: Target | Moccasins: Minnetonka

Doing what best friends do.... chatting at Starbucks
(don't worry they only had water)

You can check out monkeydoodle on InstagramFacebook and etsy. In addition to darling custom t-shirts and onesies, they have adorable invitations and party items plus cute one-of-a-kind creations. And as a bonus for my Canadian friends who get frustrated by duty and shipping, they are located in the GTA!!