50

Saturday, 28 February 2015

It occurred to me that today is Mia and Alexa's 50 month birthday! 


I remember counting in days then weeks then months... And now we are on our way to 5 years. 

What an adventure it has been! 

��5⃣0⃣��


It's Personal

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Through social media, I have discovered so many amazing independent online retailers. I'm especially loving the twin-specific and personalized options. The other day I shared my favourite #twinmom sweatshirt. Today, I'm sharing some great new items which I recently purchased for my girls: love yoga pants, twin tees and personalized leggings. We are planning on doing a mini photo session next month and I'd like to use some or all of these.




In my 4+ years of parenting, the availability of personalized baby and kid items has exploded. Personalized swaddles, head wraps and outfits just didn't exist then like they do now (I remember feeling like a superstar for ordering stick-on baby month labels from Picky Sticky back then and now there's an entire industry for such things). I splurged on the personalized name leggings for my girls because I feel like they are already on the cusp of being too old for something too cutesy like this and I didn't want to miss our chance entirely. 

The yoga pants and leggings are from Kennedy's Collection. The tees are from Hip Little Tribe. The knit sweaters are from Target.... because this mommy loves independent and mass market retailers alike ;)

#twinmom

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Last Fall, I ordered a #twinmom sweatshirt from Multiplicitees. I've never loved a sweatshirt more! 


Organics Delivery

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

We recently started to use an organic produce subscription/delivery service.... The produce is great and I love the convenience. We are getting one box of organic fruits and vegetables every other week. It's been going so well that I'm already considering upping to a once a week delivery. 

Very first Organics Live delivery

I get an email before delivery which lets me know the available produce for the week and then I can personalize my box online. All of the produce is certified organic and locally sourced where possible. I find the price of the box to be reasonable especially when you factor in the cost of organic produce at retail stores plus the added convenience of the delivery service.



Fresh + colourful

Also, I like the variety and quality of the produce. There are so many options to choose from -- staples like bananas and celery as well as being able to try new things like rainbow carrots. The quality of all of the produce has been great and with some things -- like the oranges -- I think the quality is better than what we often end up with when we buy at the grocery store. 




Roasted rainbow carrots and broccoli


Spinach, red coral seedlings and cremini mushrooms in this chopped salad



Blueberries, blackberries and apples with
French toast (made with our fave cinnamon toast from Cobs)


If you live in the GTA, the service I use is Organics Live. I have not been compensated in any way for this post. I'm just a regular customer and they don't know anything about this blog; I simply wanted to share. 

Do you use a produce delivery service where you live? Do you get any other subscription services? I've always been curious about Stitch Fix but they don't ship to Canada. 

Homework

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Recently, Mia and Alexa were assigned their first homework. As the teacher handed out and explained the homework to the class, the kindergarteners burst out into applause and cheer. They were so happy to have homework. It was absolutely adorable! 

The task for the homework was pretty simple. The kids were given these bags to decorate for an upcoming Valentine party. My girls could NOT stop talking about their homework and pleading with me to complete it.... "Please mommy can I do my homework?" -- words I hope to hear all through their schooling (I loved school and homework, so let's hope those genes rubbed off on them). 



When it was finally time to do their homework, they took that shizz very seriously. I gave them all kinds of art supplies and basically let them have at it. I didn't help (unless asked) but I stayed close by for clean-up. I don't know if I've mentioned it on my blog before that I have a hatred for paint. I will basically come up with 101 other activities/crafts for the girls to do at home other than paint... which has only served to deeper entrench their love of painting. Given their enthusiasm for their first homework, I busted out small little paint sets for this project. 





Here are the finished products....



For the actual Valentine's Day cards for their classmates and friends, I'm keeping this simple this year. I bought prepackaged cards from Target (while I can still shop there, sniffle). These butterflies are for friends and family, and I also bought Frozen Valentine card/sticker packs for their friends at school (candy and treats aren't allowed). There's some debate as to whether or not kids should even exchange Valentine's cards at school (click here for more). I see both sides of the argument -- "yes" they are harmless and sweet versus "no" they are meaningless and wasteful. I don't mind it although I know it will be painful to sit down and have each of my daughters sign her name 30 times. I look at it as good practice of their writing skills if nothing else.




For me, Valentine's Day is no big deal and I have no expectations of elaborate plans or fancy gifts. Cards are nice though. I came across this adorable slideshow of funny and unique Valentine's Day cards. This one was definitely my favourite!

Source

What do you think about Valentine's cards in the classroom?

Four Year Well Child

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Everything went well at the appointment. The girls got their immunization booster shots and were so brave. Alexa did not shed a single tear when getting her needles. Mia went second, so the poor thing had to suffer through the anticipation. 

While being weighed, I showed the girls the little baby scale on which they were weighed as babies. They just couldn't believe they could fit on it -- no kidding! 



Mia
Birth - 5lbs, 5oz + 18 inches
1 month - 6lbs, 11oz
2 months - 8lbs, 0oz
3 months - 10lbs, 1oz
4 months - 12lbs, 3 oz
6.5 months - 15lbs, 8oz
9 months - 17lbs, 10oz
12.5 months - 21lbs, 14oz
15.5 months - 24lbs, 12 oz
19 months - 26lbs, 14oz
2 years - 28lbs, 7oz + 35 inches
3 years - 34lbs + 37.5 inches
4 years - 37lbs + 41 inches

Alexa
Birth - 6lbs, 1oz + 19 inches
1 month - 6lbs, 14oz
2 months - 8lbs, 0oz
3 months - 9lbs, 15oz
4 months - 12lbs, 0oz
6.5 months - 15lbs, 15oz
9 months - 18lbs, 1oz
12.5 months - 22lbs, 2oz
15.5 months - 25lbs, 2oz
19 months - 26lbs, 8oz
2 years - 28lbs, 7oz + 37 inches
3 years - 35lbs + 40 inches
4 years - 38lbs + 43 inches

The girls also just had recent optometrist and dentist appointments, and those were good as well. 

Small Victories

Sunday, 18 January 2015

I was just saying in my four year post about how my girls are still picky eaters although infinitely better than a year ago. Today at lunch, I took some advice I recently read which says kids are more likely inclined to eat meals in which they've had a role in making. For lunch, I put out a bunch of things for making sandwich wraps. Mia and Alexa were good and hungry having just come from gymnastics. It was fun for them to make their own wraps, which consisted of whole wheat wraps, cheese, cucumbers, pickles and oven roasted chicken breast. The slices of chicken would normally have created HAVOC at lunchtime and they would have maybe had one bit after a lot of complaining and negotiating. As a part of the self-made wraps, they ate all of their chicken without a single complaint.

I can't explain the Foofa hats on my sandwich wrap makers

At dinner, Alexa ate almost an entire sweet potato, which was huge for her. She likes to eat her favourites first which in this case was pastina. Then she was willing to sample the sweet potato, realize she liked it and eat more (Mia had a few bites of sweet potato). After some initial complaining, Mia tried chicken wings (which I made in the Actifry again) for the first time. Up until this point no amount of coaxing has ever convinced my girls to try chicken wings in any form. Once Mia had a bite, she was hooked and she ended up eating my entire plate of chicken wings. She kept telling us how good they were. No kidding! We have tried to tell her that for ages (Alexa still didn't want to try them).

These are small victories but progress nevertheless. Anything I've read about picky eaters says to keep offering a variety of foods in different ways, and eventually they will try them and develop more sophisticated appetites. Maybe just maybe we are getting there.

Oh and the best part was they were so excited to clean up after dinner. Mia helped me wash dishes and Alexa helped my hubby vacuum the kitchen floor. We also spent part of today skating together as a family, which was so much fun. I really think four is a great age, they are capable of so much and have tons of enthusiasm!

What Is Wrong With My Fellow Canadians?

Thursday, 15 January 2015

The breaking news this morning is that Target is pulling out of Canada (click here) after being here for less than two years. Even though I firmly believe Target Canada was never as good as the original, it was still far better than any of our other options up here.




I don't get it! Target had cute merchandise, bright and clean stores, the BEST shopping carts for kids, Starbucks, great costumer service and good prices. Then there's Canadian Tire.... it's stores are a complete shambles, no customer service, crappy prices, and it lasts like a 100 years.

What a bummer! I'm really going to miss my Target shopping trips. And sad for all of those jobs lost. I guess now I just have all the more reason to cross-border shop and to visit my in-laws in Florida. Heck, maybe it's just time to move down there ;)


**** Edited to Add ****

When I wrote this post on the morning of Target Canada's announcement, I was being cheeky and I had no idea it would generate as much feedback as it has, and so I want to elaborate on my thoughts.

I'm someone who does a lot of shopping in the U.S. (as my regular readers know) and I frequently shop at Target in New York, Michigan and Florida. I was thrilled when they arrived in Canada in 2013 and yet I did not expect Target Canada to live up to its U.S. counterpart. Why? Because Canadian retailers rarely, if ever, live up to the U.S. ones in terms of prices and selection. There are too many aspects of the Canadian market that make it difficult to compete. Things like duty/tariffs, high shipping costs, high labelling costs, different laws and regulations, different coupon rules and protectionist behaviours not to mention that the retail industry seems to be in a bad place at the moment with many Canadian retails announcing closures (Jacob, Mexx, Sony). To me, it was unrealistic for Canadians to expect Target Canada to be any different than other retailers and offer the same prices and selection.

I know nothing of why Target could not correct the supply chain issues that led to empty shelves but it is certainly no different than others like Walmart when it comes to the less varied supply which it is has on its shelves. I'm literally blown away any time I step foot into a grocery store in the U.S. A grocery store like Wegmans has so many different products than a grocery store like Loblaws. There is so much variety and things are noticeably less expensive than they are here. One example is Chobani, which is not sold in Canada and I always buy it in the States. A few years ago, Chobani wanted to expand into Canada. They were planning on abiding by the monopolistic dairy industry rules here which would require them to exclusively use milk from Canadian dairy farmers and produce the yogurt in Canada but the dairy industry nevertheless got involved to block Chobani from entering the market. There are similar issues when it comes to alcohol and beer with the LCBO and Beer Store. All of this is to say that Target is certainly not at fault for the lack of selection on its grocery shelves. In terms of products like furnishings, clothes, seasonal items, toys and cosmetics, I thought Target Canada did a good job of offering comparable items.

There are a lot of factors that make things cost more in Canada, the fluctuating price of the Canadian dollar being just one. Some of my favourite retailers like Pottery Barn, Loft and GAP have better prices and offer more substantial sales in the U.S. than Canada, and I always make a point of taking advantage of that fact when I'm in the U.S. Most things cost more at stores in Canada not just at Target Canada. On the flip side, when I was looking for an iPad over Black Friday it was Target Canada that had a better deal than any other store in Canada.

I will miss the Target shopping experience here, that's for sure. It seems like two years wasn't really enough time to justify the infrastructure and lost jobs, sadly. The next big U.S. relater slated to open in Canada is Nordstrom (another favourite of mine) and they must be paying close attention to the Target Canada story. There may have been many things that Target did wrong when expanding here but I think the expectations of Canadian shoppers in terms of expecting the same prices and selection were unfair.


Carb Lovers

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

We are carb lovers at our house. Carb LOVERS. We are lucky to not have any gluten intolerances or I don't know what Mia and Alexa would eat. They are picky enough, but at least I know carbs are a fallback. Lately, I have been trying to find some alternatives to their favourite carbs. Over Christmas, we were at an event at which someone had a gluten intolerance and there was gluten free pasta. There was regular pasta and gluten free pasta, actually. Alexa opted for the gluten free because she preferred that shape (gluten free penne versus regular linguini). I expected her to take one bite and freak out. She didn't, and devoured the entire bowl. I was surprised because usually she (and Mia) is hyper aware of even the slightest change to favourite foods. They are like the food police, always on alert for suspicious looking ingredients. But in this case, she was completely unaware that she was eating gluten free. With that in mind, I have begun experiencing with different kinds of flours in our homemade treats. As it is, I've always tried to sneak in fruit and vegetables into muffins and baked "donuts". Now, I'm also trying to switch out regular flour for things like coconut flour. Coconut flour is not only gluten and wheat free, it is also very high in protein and fibre. The other notable thing is that it takes a lot less gluten flour than regular flour.

My first attempt was coconut flour pancakes (I have no photos or recipe, unfortunately). They were a hit - my girls ate them right up. Next, I tired coconut flour baked donuts with bananas and chocolate chips. While it's generous to call these donuts (Krispy Kreme they are not) they were delicious and again, my girls ate them without any hesitation or speculation. I used this recipe except I substituted chocolate chips for dark chocolate meaning my version isn't completely free of processed sugars or dairy though they are still a much healthier option. I enjoyed the texture and they had a ton of flavour. The recipe claims that they are freezable so I may try that. For now, we have this as a healthier version of one of our favourite sugary carb treat.

My coconut flour donut

Have you tried coconut flour? Or almond flour? Any favourite recipes? Thank goodness for Pinterest, right?

Four

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Well, here I go with the four year old post. I have said it about every age but I really mean it when I say I love having four year olds. They are smart, fun and adorable. They are incredibly self sufficient and yet still need plenty of loving, kisses and cuddles from me. It's a loveable age!

Fabulous Four

While they both still do love princesses, I can see that's starting to wane and I'd guess by this time next year they will be getting over the princess-phase. I was never too happy by the princess-phase and yet I will be sad to see it go. I guess it will mark the end of a certain childlike innocence. I'm getting ahead of myself. They definitely still love to wear the princess dresses, play with the princess figurines and watch the princess movies. They are very excited to go to Walt Disney World this year and to meet Anna and Elsa (we didn't get the chance to meet them on our trip last year because they weren't yet appearing at the Princess Fairytale Hall in Magic Kingdom). They are TV lovers like their momma and will watch pretty much anything. What I have noticed is more of an interest in "big girl" shows. I showed them Full House on Netflix and they went crazy for it! They have moved away from Disney Junior and baby toys. It's so sad but they hardly play with their play kitchen anymore -- that was a favourite for years. They got a lot of games for their birthday and Christmas. Great new games like Busytown Mysteries and tons of classics like Hungry Hippos. It's a new stage completely. I did a big clean out  and we added a large storage area and work bench from IKEA. Their playroom looks completely different. I don't think I've ever done a recent post on their bedroom. It was over a year ago where we turned the old crib room into a dressing room with dressers, a vanity and their costumes/play clothes and we turned the old dressing room into a bedroom with big girl beds. Over time, the costumes, tutus and princess dresses had migrated to the playroom. Now all of those things are back in the dressing room and the playroom is strictly toys and games. They still let me choose their clothes -- yeah, baby! They have a preference for dresses, sparkly thing and hair accessories, which are all okay by me! They love to have me paint their nails and colour their hair with washable hair chalk. Like me, they love Taylor Swift's new album and can belt out every word to Blank Space!

I have like no pics of their bedroom - this is from May

And this is from October (time for a bedroom post!)


New playroom storage

I'm often asked about how they go about deciding things amongst themselves. For example, for Halloween Mia was Maleficent and Alexa was Sleeping Beauty. They figured this out on their own. It's something they have been able to do since they were very young. If they receive or have to select two similar things, they just have a way about knowing which one Alexa will pick and which one Mia will pick. It's really rare that they want the same thing. We have always taken an approach of having things that are similar but different when it comes to toys and clothes, so I think they are just very used to picking something they can claim for themselves. And even when they do have two of the exact same thing, they still somehow know which item belongs to whom. It's their thing, they just know. Are all twins like that?

During the first half of 2014, they had a lot of milestones. I was thinking there weren't very many major ones during the last half of 2014 but there was of course the biggest one of all -- starting school. They also started skating. They continue to progress leaps and bounds when it comes to reading and writing. And we finally got an iPad (I swear we are the last family we know to have an iPad). We took them camping for the first time, which was actually a wonderful experience. As for school, they transitioned into it very well. I think there are pros and cons to full day kindergarten. Sometimes it feels like glorified daycare and then other days I'm amazed at the things they have already learned. I had reservations about them being the youngest in their class. I mean, they have just only turned four and some of the older kids will be turning six this month. It's a huge difference when it comes to social development, that's for sure. On the whole, I would say they are learning a lot by being exposed to the older kids. I like their teachers very much but sometimes I'm still caught off guard when I realize how the teachers do not "baby" them. The expectation for them to be self sufficient is there. They have come along when in terms of things like dressing themselves and being responsible for their own belongings. They have so many friends. We already hear about minor tiffs and disagreements with their little friends (heaven help us when they're 13). They have also befriended some of the older girls from grades 5 and 6 who come in to help them at snack time. It's super cute to see my girls run up to the older kids and say "hi" with such admiration for them (and so sweet of the older girls to be sweet to my littles). They just moved into a brand new classroom, which is wonderful.

Our routine is dictated by the school schedule. School has a very early start time and we have to be out of the house by 7:55am. That means they are usually awake between 6:30-7:00am and they are asleep between 7:00-7:30pm. There have been a few rough weeks where Mia wakes up the entire house at 5:00am. They currently take ballet lessons after school one day a week and skating and gymnastics on the weekends. We are thinking of putting them in swimming and piano lessons soon. They are still picky eaters. When I see other four year olds eating things like sushi, beans or avocado, I get envious. I do think my girls eat a wider variety now than a year ago (things like broccoli and bell peppers) but we still have a long way to go. They don't veer to much outside the boring kid menu of chicken nuggets, pizza, quesadillas, grilled cheese, mac n cheese, pasta and burgers. But I swear I try every single day to get them to eat more adventurous things. And in the meantime, I try to sneak in good things wherever I can and push the few veggies that they do like. It's frustrating. I fantasize about the time when I can make one family dinner every night and all four of us eat it without any hassle. The other frustrating thing is they tend to like opposite things. I don't know if that's their true nature or it's a twin coping mechanism. She likes strawberries, so I will like raspberries. In either case, it is a pain. One likes soup, one does not. One likes ketchup, one does not. One likes bananas, one does not. One likes pineapple, one does not. Ugh!!!! We have a four year well child appointment next week. They both weigh around 37-38 pounds and they're tall, Alexa especially. Mia has bouncing sandy-brown curls and hazel eyes. Alexa has long, flowing blonde hair and blue eyes.

While they are the best of friends, all of their four year old ideas and opinions can definitely lead to arguing amongst them. They get along about 80% of the time and the other 20% of the time can be hellish. Some funny and frustrating new four year old developments:

- telling me "I hate you" or "I don't love you anymore" and storming up to their room when they don't get their way, Mia especially does this when she's overtired

- trying to negotiate to get their way, ie. "if you don't let me colour then I will never play Busytown mysteries with you again"

- telling little lies likes "yes, I made my bed" or "yes, I ate my vegetables" when really they didn't or blaming an accident on someone else like a friend or family member who isn't even there

- they ask "why" a lot and throw me off with crazy questions like "what is murder?" OMG

They have started to tattle-tale on each other more. We have had many, many talks about why they shouldn't tattle and we explain the difference between tattling and reporting. And yet, they love to tattle. I guess they have started to keep "score" and "tabs" on each other. I'm sure I don't remember how difficult it was to have two infants when I say that this part of parenting is truly the hard part. Having to reason with them and to shape them into good people. And to do it with two of them at the same time and to stay balanced. It's so much responsibility! And I guess it's what parenting is really about -- making sure they turn out okay. It's so hard but so worth it. That's the thing about being a parent, you give so much but you get so much more than you give.





Four years later and Mia is still as dramatic and expressive as ever. She might as well be a Broadway star! She has about ten million facial expressions and she loves to sing and dance. She's a triple threat. Seriously, the girl is never quiet. She is always telling a story or singing a song. Or telling you exactly how she feels. Her flair for drama has turned into some funny moments of storming off in a huff as I described above. Most of the time, however, she is a sweet little cuddle bug. She's always been a mommy's girl and loves to hold my hand or crawl into bed with me. She is very interested in reading and knows about 10-15 sight words. She loves playing reading type games/apps on the iPad. Ballet is her favourite activity and she really, really impressed us with her skating skills from her very first lesson. She talks about wanting to play hockey and learn to play the violin. She loves to role play and make up all kinds of stories to act out with her sister, whom she loves so much.

Mia


Alexa is as strong willed as she is sensitive, it's a very interesting mix. On the one hand, you see this independent, spirited and confident girl and yet inside she's soft and sweet. Her feelings can be very easily hurt because she has a very sensitive soul. For the most part, she's a go-getter with no fear and the strong desire to do everything herself. She's very physical and never stops moving. Even when she watches TV or does a quiet activity, she is in perpetual motion. She is artistic and loves to draw, colour and paint. Drawing pictures is a new skill and she is incredibly detailed. She also loves to use scissors and tape to create things like kites. Gymnastics is her favourite activity. She was not thrilled by skating but after a few weeks she got into it. She misses swimming so much and can't wait to get back into lessons. She's very bright, stubborn and loves to try to negotiate with me to get what she wants. She's always talking about some idea that she has for one thing or another. She adores her sister.

Alexa