BRAD     |     EMILLIE

Sunday, May 26, 2013

All through the night

We continue to fight epic battles with Uliana's sleep (or lack there of).  A few things happened this week that "might" help with her sleep.  It's too early to tell, but things have been "better".  (Better deserves to be in quotations, because Uliana slept 4 hours straight last night!!*! before starting her every hour wake up.  However, it wasn't much better for us because we don't go to bed at 7 pm... so starting the every-hour wake up at 11pm didn't really result in much more sleep for me!)

We're under a bit of pressure to resolve this sleep issue because our spare room is soon to be occupied by several waves of visitors.  Gone are the nights where we can take turns sleeping in a different room...  Our waves of visitors are quickly followed by a fair amount of traveling, and we REALLY don't need Nikolai being woken up by the every hour crying!

Naturally I turned to the Internet.  But there is way too much contradictory advice, so we tried co-sleeping, putting her in her own room, swaddling, white noise and every teething remedy known to man; now I've decided to follow the advice of this blog. So, on Wednesday we decided to take away her soothers (hoping to stop her from demanding it to be put back in place every time it fell out.)  That night she cut her second tooth.  I did feel a bit guilty, but we didn't let her have the soother back since we'd already started the process of weaning her off it.

Here's hoping I'm a perky Mama who's been getting enough sleep by next Tuesday!  We'll be heading off to Vancouver to pick some Irish friends up at the airport... It's not the trip to the airport, nor the 4 hour journey to Vancouver that I'm worried about... it's my screaming baby waking everyone up at 3am!

Our photos of the week include one of Nikolai at the Victoria version of the Global Rally Against Monsanto.  There's plenty of reasons to protest against Monsanto, but the cause that strikes me to the core is the fact that they now "own" the rights to many heritage seeds.  Though I doubt they can stop hobby gardeners, like us, from seed saving, they do go after farmers.
This next photo is Uliana and Nikolai practicing their happy baby yoga move.
In the photo above, Uliana has her sore mouth look.

Now for a happy recipe (because who wouldn't feel better with a piece of "healthy" chocolate cake?).  I made this for a BBQ last weekend with some friends who are mostly grain free.  The photos were taken on her cellphone... and are pretty good for a phone.

Orange Chocolate Cake
Place 2 small thin skinned oranges (whole) in a pot of water, bring to a boil and cook until soft.  When it is done allow the oranges to cool before cutting them in half and removing the seeds.  Then puree everything (skin and all) in a large food processor.

Add the following ingredients into the processor and blend until it is mixed: 6 eggs, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1 2/3 cups ground almond, 3/4 cup of honey and 1/2 cup of cocoa powder. 

Butter and line in parchment a 20 cm cake pan.  Pour the cake mixture into the pan and bake at 400F (180 C) for 45-60 min.  A toothpick should come out mostly clean.  You may need to cover the cake with tinfoil half way through to prevent burning.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

At a whirl

At the moment every day life continues to be so busy... and with summer arriving things are only set to get busier!  Our lives are nearly fully booked through to Nikolai's first day of kindergarten in September. 

However, my #1 issue is still sleep.  Brad has been spelling me off for the first 3-4 hours of the night, but I really would just like Uliana to settle back to 1-2 wakings a night.  She did pop her first tooth last Thursday (I wasn't too far off in my predictions!)!  But that hasn't helped her sleep settle... yet... I still live in hope!

Now for some photos from the Victoria Day Parade.  This is a massive 3 hour parade on a route that must easily takes an hour to complete.  It is a parade full of homegrown floats and high school bands.  It falls on the national holiday of Victoria Day (which is only linked to the city of Victoria by the namesake of Queen Victoria).

Now for a recipe... I've boldly decided to get rid of my file of clipped recipes.  All the recipes that I plan on making are stuck to my fridge.  If they're good I'll blog them... if not... well... we won't be making a beer-cheese soup again anytime soon!  My first recipe is...

Carrot Cake
Grease a loaf pan, then coat in sesame seeds, rotating to cover all the sides.  The sesame seeds will form a crust on the cake that is sooo delicious.
Combine the dry ingredients: 1 cup of flour, 1/2 cup rolled oats, 1/2 cup raisins, 1/2 cup date sugar (or finely chopped dates), 2 tsp cinnamon, 3/4 tsp baking powder, 3/4 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, and 1/2 tsp salt.

Combine the wet ingredients: 2 eggs, 1/3 cup oil, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 1/2 cups grated carrots, 2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce, and 1/2 cup honey.

Mix the dry and wet ingredients together and pour into a prepared pan.  Bake at 350F (175C) for 45 min or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pan.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Flowers and Sunshine

This blog has taken many attempts to write.  My main problem is that I am WAY too overtired to conduct a simple conversation, let alone blog.  That's the thing about having two kids, they out number you. Nikolai keeps me busy all day, and then he hands the torch to Uliana at 7pm.  She likes to spend her evenings having a good long cry, then follows it up with a wake up every hour or two throughout the night. (The switch from a newborn that slept most of the night to a baby that wakes up all the time was coupled with her sudden interest in the world at 3 months).

Like most moms with young children, all I want for mother's day is more sleep (maybe next year?).  Instead I spent my morning with my baby's head resting against my shoulder, and my son telling me about his pet Tyrannosaurus.   As much as I miss all the things that make up my sense of self (sleep, personal time, the ability to eat without interruption, a connection to the world outside my home) I know that this won't last forever and I will miss it when my children have grown up.
Besides, motherhood does have its benefits!  Already, Nikolai is becoming an avid sous chef and gardener.  Here he is chopping up some tofu. 

Now for a recipe that can be whipped up quickly, and served as a healthy meal with a simple salad.  I am served a variation of a "kasha" nearly every time I have lunch with our friends from Russia.  The recipe below is basic but tasty.  It is easily amended to include other vegetables (mushrooms, kale, spinach, carrots).  Buckwheat is a gluten free grain that is high in protein, fiber and relatively low in starch.  It can be hard to digest for anyone who is not used to a high fiber diet, but it is delicious!

Buckwheat Pilaf
Toasted buckwheat is the tastiest (also known as kasha), but if you get untoasted buckwheat then simply roast your grains for a longer period of time.  Roast 1 cup of buckwheat in a dry sauce pan, stirring constantly until the grains begin to smell toasty (about 2 minutes).  Pour in 2 cups of boiling water, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper. Cover and simmer until the water is absorbed (about 12 minutes).  Remove from heat, and let it stand still with the cover still on for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, roast 3/4 cup walnuts in a dry frying pan, stirring frequently until toasted (about 5 minutes).  Transfer to a plate.

Then saute 1 chopped onion and 2 tsp of fresh thyme in 2 tbsp of olive oil until soft.

Stir the buckwheat and walnuts into the onions, add 3 tbsp fresh parsley and salt to taste (about 1/4 tsp).

Saturday, May 04, 2013

The sweetest little baby I ever did see

As with most of my blog titles... the above is a lyric from a song.  It happens to be a kid song, all about how it would be better to get a cat and not a baby.  But the song ends with the kid loving his little sister and asking his parents to have another.

It is a fitting theme for our week, because Uliana went from crying all the time to laughing her head off at EVERYTHING Nikolai does.  He totally hams it up for her in a way that reminds me of The Three Stooges, and they both fall apart in fits of giggles.

It begs the question of what happened? Where did my crying baby go?  She did not get a tooth and is still a teething monster.  Regardless, the change in her behaviour between this week and the past month is dramatic.

So, what happened is that I went to the chiropractor (holding a screaming baby for hours on end wrecks your back). As per usual, Uliana screamed through my entire appointment.  So the chiropractor asked to look at her, and while she was maneuvering up Uliana's back she hit a spot mid-back that made Uliana YELP in pain.  After about 15 minutes of gentle maneuvering Uliana was much calmer.

I was taught how to massage the sore spot (and I can feel the knot of muscles, as it is very noticeable).  So now we'll just do a monthly check up and I'm responsible for massaging her.  Meanwhile Uliana is much happier, and consequently everyone else in our house is much happier too!

(Apparently quick births can be tough on little bodies, and Uliana was out in 4 pushes even though I was only 6 cm dilated, so it was epic on the scale of fast births.  The reason why it wasn't a problem earlier is because it didn't bother her until she started sitting and moving around.)

In the spirit of Cinco de Mayo we have spent the week crafting a pinata.  So today's recipe is a DYI instructions for a pinata.  We made a simple one, but I'm sure you could get creative with multiple balloons and cardboard shapes, etc.

1. Make a simple, no-cook paper mache paste out of 1/2 cup of white flour and 1 cup of water.  Mix until smooth.
2. Rip strips of newsprint, dip the newsprint in the paper mache paste, wipe off excess and paste it to the balloon.  The build up at least 2 layers of newsprint on the balloon.

3. Allow the form to completely dry, then either paint it or glue on coloured tissue paper.  We added tissue paper using watered down glue (about 1 tsp glue and 2 tbsp water) which we used to paint the tissue paper onto the balloon.

4. When the top layer is dry cut the balloon and remove it from the form.  Then cut a small hole in the top of the pinata and fill it with whatever you want (Nikolai stuck in a random assortment of toys and I added some treats).
5. There are a number of options to finish it off... You can choose to close the hole with some tape.  You can hang it up by making holes and tying string through the holes.  We're going to leave our hole open and hang it up by wedging a stick in the hole with a string tied to it.
 We started off in the living room (those magical rainbow lights are coming from the stain glass windows).
 But it was too dangerous so we moved to the back deck.  Nikolai ended up finally breaking it after a few good bashes.
Now for some Uliana pictures from the week.  We decided to give her some "food" to play with because meal times had become impossible.  She simply would not allow anyone to eat in front of her and was irate the whole time.  This avocado was officially her first food. She mostly used it as finger paint.
It didn't take her long to decide that it wasn't a good substitute for the real real dinner.