Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Bronte 2.1

My little girl continues to amaze me. I'm fairly sure her language skills are about a year ahead--her ability to articulate what she's thinking, what she needs, & what she wants are on par with a preschooler. She's stopped saying "ukulady" & pronounces it right now. I don't really correct her speech--the only thing I've been working on is colours. I read an article about some research on how children learn colours a while ago. When I talk about colour, I try not to use the colour as an adjective right next to the noun, but the object of the sentence, like, "Your shoes are black." or "This cup is yellow." It seems to be working, as her accuracy is going up when she identifies what colour things are. If you ask her what colour something is, & she's not sure, her default answer is blue. She seems to be pretty solid on orange & is getting pink & black.

Here are a few recent examples of things she's said:

"Papa, I think we should go home now."
"Mama, can I have some noms, please?"
"I have a poopy diaper. Mama gonna deal with it."
"Can I have other side noms? This milk is all done."

Of course, she still has some cute babyisms, like:
"Pick-oo-up" (pick me up)

I feel really lucky that she is so able to communicate, because with her personality, we'd all be suffering if this little firecracker couldn't make herself understood. It's got to be really frustrating for babies & toddlers who can't yet articulate their needs. Bronte has some tantrums, but generally it's not about being frustrated by communication, but just due to tiredness or being told she can't do something she wants to do.

Loved everything about camping... except her PFD.
I feel like age two is where you really start to see who this little person is going to be. She's inherited her Oma's physique, I think, with a solid, but short frame, wide hands & feet. Her colouring is nearly identical to mine at that age--skin, eyes, hair. Her facial features are a mixed bag though, I can't decide whose mouth she has, her nose is a smaller version of her father's, & she's got a narrow little chin. Personality-wise, I'm starting to imagine what she'll be like in school in a few years. She's very friendly & loves to socialize, quite empathetic & perceptive. She isn't particularly sensitive, though, so she can generally hold her own & will get up, dust herself off & keep going after a stumble or a scuffle.

Her favourite toy this past month or two has consistently been her dolly. It had to come camping with us at Alice Lake a few weeks ago. She carries it around everywhere she goes, breastfeeds it, puts it to bed, wears it in her mini mei tai & pushes it around in the stroller she got for her birthday. She also loves dressing up in hats, shoes & whatever clothing she can pull on. I find it hilarious that she fits into the gender stereotypes so well--both my children do, really, as Linnaeus is really into vehicles of all sorts, spaceships, roughhousing, etc. Of course, Bronte also loves watching construction equipment, playing with dinosaurs, & physical thrills like jumping off playground equipment or going over big bumps at speed on the bike. She's also starting to figure out pedalling on the trikes at the family centre.

Bronte has more or less settled into the routine of going to bed in the same room & at the same time as her brother. She generally falls asleep fairly fast & doesn't wake up until 5 or 6 in the morning, when she quietly gets up, waddles into our room in her hip brace & sleep sack & climbs in for some 'noms' before going back to sleep. I'm so used to her doing it that I rarely wake up enough to check the time. Her naps have been a bit more irregular. I think all the awkwardly timed & short car naps she took while we were in the Okanagan a week ago threw her off. I don't think she's ready to give up that afternoon nap, but we really have to be careful about getting her down at the right time or she only sleeps 40 minutes & gets cranky.

With food, Bronte continues to be a bit picky. She does eat pretty well--there are lots of fruits & veggies she likes & she won't turn her nose up at whole grain bread. She loves nuts & has mastered chewing them whole, so we don't worry too much about her choking, though I do make sure she's buckled in her chair in my sight while she eats them, just in case. Her main issues are with thin, leafy things that she still has trouble chewing, like kale or spinach or leaf lettuce, then gags on. She's gotten good at chewing up pear or apple skins, however, so I hope she'll get into leafy stuff soon.

One food we're intentionally avoiding these days is sesame. I realized this month that she consistently gets a rash on her face from contact with sesame oil or hummus, which has tahini in it. Bronte has had this reaction several times over the past year & a half, but never any swelling in her mouth or any other symptoms I could see other than the rash, which clears up within an hour. So it's not life-threatening, but there's no way to know if it could get worse, so our doctor has advised us just to avoid it. Which can be tricky with whole grain breads, crackers, asian food. I'm hoping that it's something she might grow out of, as she used to have a similar reaction to acidic fruits like blueberries & tomatoes.

I'll leave you with a video of B's riding skills at the family centre:

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Monday, October 5, 2015

Random Things In My Kitchen Slaw

Random Things In My Kitchen Slaw for lunch.
I'm not much of a cook & I'm certainly never going to be a food blogger--I leave that up to the likes of Well Fed Flat Broke's Emily Wight or Rebecca Coleman of Cooking by Laptop--but salads I can do.

I like chopping veggies plus since there's no cooking required I won't forget & leave a pot on the stove. I feel like there's more room for creativity with a salad too, since I don't have to worry about anything rising or thickening or caramelizing. I can just toss things from my fridge & cabinets into a bowl & voila! Lunch. 

Since reading "Eat to Live", I've really gotten into eating just a huge salad for lunch. It totally fills me up & I don't get hungry for hours afterward. I can consume a mass quantity of food without eating more than a few hundred calories. Plus eating a massive pile of kale or other greens is a great way to get important nutrients & fibre.

Here's my latest giant salad creation that I thought I'd share with you, since it turned out pretty well. I've named it Random Things In My Kitchen Slaw:

3-4 leaves kale, finely chopped
1 large carrot, grated
1/4 red cabbage, sliced into thin strips
1 apple
1/2 an avocado
A handful of cashews
A few dashes of apple cider vinegar
freshly ground pepper to taste
Hot sauce to taste (I used 3-4 good squirts of Sriracha)

Toss the first three ingredients in a large salad bowl. Throw the rest into your blender or food processor & whizz it up until it's smooth. Pour the dressing onto the salad & toss to coat.

This recipe made around 4 side salad sized portions. You could add some seeds or nuts on top to make it a little richer--sunflower, pumpkin, hemp, or even chia would be good.

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Saturday, October 3, 2015

Review: Stress Less Coloring book

Colouring at Oma & Opa's house
I've always liked drawing & colouring, so I was pretty excited to see the trend of 'adult colouring books' coming up. I downloaded & printed a few mandalas a few months ago & enjoyed colouring them in. Pulling out the sheaf of printouts after the kids were asleep & then putting them away got everything a little dogeared. It's really nice to have a proper colouring book with everything bound together in one place.

Before I got around to buying myself a colouring book, I was sent two for review: "Stress Less Coloring: Flower Patterns" & "Stress Less Coloring: Mandalas". Both books have more than a hundred pages of beautiful black & white line drawings just waiting to be coloured.

I brought the flower patterns book along with the kids' colouring books on our recent trip to the Okanagan to visit Oma & Opa. Both kids & I had a long colouring session which, other than Bronte trying to colour all the chairs within reach & eat some of her crayons, was quite relaxing. I've always found it somewhat meditative to colour--I used to doodle all the time when I was in lectures, at meetings, watching TV, hanging out with friends, & even on transit. Focusing on the hues I pick, carefully filling in the tiny spaces between lines in the books is calming in the same way.

I'll definitely be filling in the rest of the pages with my pencil crayons, hopefully colouring alongside the kids again--that was fun. If you'd like to find the Stress Less Coloring books, they're available on Amazon here for about $12-15 (affiliate link). The series includes the floral patterns & mandalas that I have, as well as psychedelic, paisley, animals, geometric, & mosaic patterns too.

Disclaimer: I was given the two colouring books to facilitate this review, but was not otherwise compensated. If you purchase one of the books using the above affiliate link on Amazon.ca I will get a small commission--thanks for supporting Spokesmama!

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Friday, October 2, 2015

What I actually eat these days

Fruit, nuts & high fibre cereal for breakfast
At the moment I'm focussed on losing weight, but I'm not "going on a diet" in the sense that I'm only eating this way temporarily. I'm trying to permanently improve my diet, not just change things until I get to a specific weight. I don't plan to go back to eating the way I used to. To give you an idea of what I've changed, here's what I used to eat in a typical day:

Breakfast: Cheerios or oatmeal or a couple pieces of toast with butter or peanut butter, plus tea with milk or a big mug of hot chocolate. Eggy pancakes or french toast on weekends, smothered in maple syrup.
Snack: I'd graze on something mid morning or afternoon, usually, unless I was out, often something carb-y or maybe fruit.
Lunch: Sandwiches, or leftovers, or melted cheese on crackers, any of which would involve lots of cheese.
Dinner: Big portions of pasta, rice, or potatoes featured heavily in our diet with maybe a serving or two of veggies & usually meat every day. I was eating a lot of bacon for a while there too.
Snack: Depending on what was in the house, I might have chocolate, cookies or popcorn or eat a lot of a big bag of chips.

Veggie snack
Another thing I'm curtailing is binge eating at social functions. If I went to a family gathering or a house party, I'd probably spend a lot of time hovering near the chip bowl, eating at least half a dozen cookies or squares or whatever sweets were on offer & drinking at least a couple glasses of pop. I've been trying to cut out pop for ages, but I just love fizzy drinks & mineral water is rarely available, so I usually end up drinking a few hundred calories in the form of ginger ale, or cola.

Here's a typical day's food now:
I ate four of these
Breakfast: Bran Buds plus fruit & topping of chia seeds, hemp hearts, flax seed or almonds & soy milk.
Lunch: big salad with homemade dressing (Eat To Live recipes or just balsamic)
Dinner: lots of veggies--typically steamed, sometimes braised--plus smallish serving of high carb food like pasta, bread, rice, quinoa, etc, sometimes a little meat
Snack: fruit, or veggies with hummus, or rice crackers, or roasted chickpeas.

I also have of hot drinks throughout the day--tea, Akava (a barley-based faux instant coffee), hot chocolate (My 'recipe' is not very sweet: 1 Tbsp cocoa powder, 1/2 tsp honey, dash of vanilla, 1/4 cup unsweetened soy milk, hot water)

My diet is nowhere near 'perfect'. I do lots of "cheating" with birthdays, our anniversary, sneaking chocolate & cookies after I put the kids to bed, or occasionally bingeing on a massive bowl of popcorn (but that's mostly air, right?). However, I try hard to limit myself--I'll have just one cupcake instead of eating as many as I feel like. Two months in, I feel like I can follow these eating habits & still enjoy my life (chocolate, beer, occasional french fries) so I'm hopeful I can make it stick.

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Weight Loss Update: Slacking A Bit & "Eat To Live"

After a follow-up appointment with my doctor, I took her suggestion & read "Eat to Live", by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. It's a fairly extreme diet plan with a foreword by Dr. Oz, which pretty much gives you a good idea of the tone of the book. I found it a little infomercial-ish & condescending, but I think there are some good ideas in it.

Fuhrman basically advocates going vegan & avoiding most grains, particularly anything processed like bread, pasta or crackers, as well as oils & added sugar. This means you can basically eat vegetables & fruit, beans, nuts & seeds. Also, no alcohol. His plan requires you do do that for six weeks to drop a lot of weight fast. All of his testimonial style stories in the book of patients who succeeded on this diet are obese people who have major health problems like diabetes, heart disease, etc, & that seems to be who the diet is aimed at primarily.

Loading up on veggies 
Once you've done the six week Eat to Live diet, Fuhrman's plan allows a little bit more leeway, switching to a maintenance diet that allows you to get about 10% of your calories from dairy, meat, grains, oil, alcohol, etc. I'm not willing to go vegan--I like cheese far too much--nor do I plan to give up beer! I'm also not really in the demographic that Fuhrman's diet is targeting--I was only about three or four pounds overweight by BMI chart standards--I didn't have 50 or 100 or even more pounds to lose. So I'm loosely following the Eat to Live plan--more the maintenance stage, including a little meat & dairy

I'm finding it somewhat exhilarating that the scale keeps showing a smaller number every week or so. I do struggle with staying away from the junk food, especially during the times of day that I habitually snacked, like after I get Bronte to bed, while I'm watching a show. But I'm not finding it too hard to just eat more veggies--I tend to just load up at lunch with a giant salad--& reduce the amount of dairy & meat I consume. I feel hungry just before meals, but I'm not hungry all day--I'm not starving myself. My goal is to lose 20 lbs, which would put me right at the weight I was before my first pregnancy & the lower end of the range I was in during my 20s.

However, I have always had a sweet tooth & loved salty junk food too. When I was at that weight, my diet really wasn't that great--it included more added sugar than is probably healthy, tons of refined starches, not that many veggies, & a lot of dairy. So I wonder if I change my eating habits permanently to include tons of veggies (like the 2 lbs a day that Fuhrman advocates for in Eat to Live), much less refined carbs, less fatty dairy & meat, if my weight will stabilize at a lower point than it's been in past.

My weight loss started off fast & has slowed down a bit in the last month-ish. I'm down a total of 15 lbs, 10 of which I lost in the first 3 weeks, just 5 more in the next 5 weeks. I'm a bit lighter than I was before getting pregnant with Bronte & getting close to where I was at before I was pregnant with Linnaeus.

I don't see that much of a difference & my "bagel" is still there on my belly. However, I've noticed my pants are looser these days--some of them slip down far enough to drag on the ground. I finally got around to measuring myself: though I've only lost about an inch at the waist, I've lost three at the hips.

As you can tell, I'm happy about the changes to my appearance from the weight loss, but I'm a little disappointed that I don't feel much of a change with my bad hip. The arthritis that spurred this diet is causing less pain in general, but I'm not sure how much of that is the reduced weight on my joints, or the physio exercises I was doing, or starting to use a cane. In any case, it isn't worse...

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