Wednesday, October 30, 2013

'It Happens

Help Yourself

To all the moms out there, who have lived through many a tantrum...and had a few themselves.
It's okay to not be okay sometimes.
Your kids should know that too.

"Better out than in." As my husband would say, but normally he is not referring to tantrums. 
Usually he is referring to gas!
He is very poetic;)

Glitter Bottle. As seen before, our glitter bottle works well, for lightly stormy days. 

Attachment Parenting. Severe tantrums require a heftily loaded attachment parenting toolkit. Our long-term goal is to teach our children 'empathy' and to do that, you have to be empathetic.
~Ignore other people while your kid is freaking out...and don't ignore your kid or walk away
~Believe that your child's emotions are valid (start using Terrific Two, not Terrible Two)
~A timely hug (ask if child is willing) is likely a well-needed solution
~Behaviours indicate an underlying issue (hungry, sleepy, angry) Always good to check your own behaviour/attitude that day and see if you might be rubbing off on the family!
~Avoid "doing to" (training) and try "working with" (understanding your child & her age)
A friend recommended, 'Unconditional Parenting' by Alfie Kohn which explains all the above in detail.  
NOTE* Your parenting style is not 'weak' because you stick around for a tantrum. 
It takes a lot of empathy to stay and support your child through their storm. 
In turn, when you are having a bad day, your child will surprise you with their empathic response.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Persimmons, Qipao's & Mantou

 Street Food
Shanghai has no shortage of 'street food'.
Though the bread's and dried fruits from Urgyr vendor's top our favourite's, we have also tested Zong Zi (glutinous rice and red beans wrapped in banana leaf), fresh pressed OJ, sugar cane juice, barrel-BBQ corn and yam's....and Mantou or Bao Zi (steamed buns). O and I love red-bean filled buns, but O will eat them plain too. Light as a feather and ridiculously cheap!

 Urgyr Dried Fruit in Bulk

From our Urgyr friends, every colour raisin under the sun, plump dried persimmon, figs, apricots and loads of nuts.

Taikang Lu Flower Vendor

We turned our errand run into a 'street food' party and picked up some snacks on our sunny walk.

Qipao Shop
Jie Jie & Mei Mei

Then we picked up a few mini Qipao's for our newborn friends and headed home for the day.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Horticulture: 'Guay Hua'


Fall is by far my favourite season, which is no surprise coming from a Canadian.

Though Shanghai leaves do not change colour, the big city has a few indicators that Fall is near or here; yam & chestnut vendors, plump orange persimmons at the fruit stands and 'guay hua' (osthmanthus) permeating the air.

Fall is especially a favourite now, because it seems to be the season we have waited for both our girls to arrive! The smell is not only nostalgic of a hot Shanghai summer gone by, but of a warm winter with our new baby ahead.

The gardens at our building, have several big osthmanthus tree's, perfect for a mini lesson in horticulture. It doesn't hurt than when you steal a twig of the teeny flowerets, it makes your house smell fabulous too.

Our Big Baby on the Bridge

O's idea of 'layering'

I Vant to Suck Your Blood

 Scary Vampire Bat Baby

Beware Gotham City. 
The Bat is Back!
A smaller, cuter, female version, but do not be deceived by this cute little mug....

Who am I kidding...she is the sweetest bat I have ever met!
Not a blood-sucking bone in her body.
Come on, look at that dimple. She couldn't hurt a fly.

  Speaking of 'fly'...

I Can Fly!

Her big sister thinks this is hilarious!

Happy First Hallowe'en, Charlotte!

Make a Jack-O-Lantern!

O did not want to scoop out seeds or have input on what Jack should look like, but she is definitely running to bed at night, so we can light him up on the windowsill! I should use Jack-O-Lanterns to get her to bed every night of the year!

 We only get squash in Shanghai, not actual pumpkins. The squash seeds are too dense, so we buy green pumpkin seeds, lightly oil, salt and toast them! Fabulous!! 

 Baby Hallowe'en Book

 Big Girl Hallowe'en Book

Five Little Pumpkins sitting on the gate,
the first one said, "Oh my, it's getting late!"

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Unseasonal Strawberries

Vegan Bites: Cauliflower & Rice

Spiced Up 'Flower

Not generally big on cauliflower, I gave this dish a go, two Hallowe'en's ago when our friends shared it at our picnic. Even dear old Dabby who is not big on veg at all, gave it a try.
Both of us loved it!
I begged said friend for her recipe and I've made it many times since.
Dabby won't eat my version, but O and I can finish it between us!

N's Cauliflower & Rice
~1/2t cumin seed
~4T grated garlic & ginger
2-3 fresh chili’s
~2-4 cloves
~1 cauliflower
~1/2 onion
~1 tomato
~1 & 1/2 c Basmati rice
~1t tamarind powder
~2t chilli
~1/2t garam masala
~2-4t salt
~lemon & cilantro
Brown seeds in hot oil. Add garlic, ginger, chilli & cloves. Add onion & cauliflower. Add tomatoes & rice. Add spices & 3 large glasses of water. Boil. Simmer. Garnish.

Tamarind Concentrate

My mom and sis were kind enough to find and bring this to China. 
Without it, the dish is just not the same.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Basket 'O Things

In need of a quick game to boost bonding time and brain activity (in young and old alike)?

This version requires no money and no prep. 
Simply collect a few items from around the house and a scarf to cover them up. 
For O, we started with three items, gave her a minute to look and feel them over before covering them up for her to recall.

Tips for increasing the value of the game.
~have the items coincide with a theme you're studying or about to introduce
~use items for practicing vocabulary from a new language
~toss in items that relate and add one item that does not, which the player must point out
~ask your child to collect items for you to play

Monday, October 21, 2013

(Kinda) Vegan Bites: Honeycombs

 Not so Bee-Free Honeycomb

In the world of Vegans, I am considered a 'Strict Vegetarian' since I don't eat animal products in general, but I do eat honey.
There is such thing as Bee-Free Honey (made from apples) however, I have my mother's weakness for sickeningly sweet things, so honey is not off the bill for me. 
Will power is also out the window when it comes to Maple Syrup and marmalade!

There's a company here in Shanghai that sells Honeycombs
Absolute non-vegan treat! I used to buy them at the local Farmer's Market in Ontario on Saturday mornings and the poor comb never made it to Sunday!
Add one loaf of German bread (from Shanghai's Sunday Market) O and I enjoyed some toast, a-la-Pooh-Bear, yesterday.

 German 'Sovital'

 Toast a-la-Pooh Bear

There are many great lessons mixed into honey & the life span of bee's.
You can even expand the lesson to delve into vegan & veggie lifestyles (read: Honey, Leather, Gelatin).

Fingerplays. A fabulous way to extend any lesson for preschoolers is to add a related fingerplay.
Here is a beehive (make fist)
Where are the bee's.
Hiding inside where nobody see's (cover fist with other hand)
Soon they'll come creeping,
Out of the hive 
One (release one finger from hand...) Two...Three...Four... FIVE..BUZZZZZ!

Visit an Apiary. If hubby was not deathly afraid of bee's, he would love a trip to an apiary!

Buy Locally. Check labels. Visit the Farmer's Market's and interview the sellers. We definitely buy more imported foods since living abroad, but we do buy local organic veggies (which does not make all that much sense grown in the big city soil!)

Cooking & Concocting. Sub-in honey for the sugar or sweetener in your favourite baked goods. Learn how to make homemade face masks with honey. Teach your kids how to stir up a sore throat concoction with honey and ginger.

Very Vegan Toast

When I am feeling less rebellious and the honeycomb is all eaten, pictured above is 100% vegan toast!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Hammock Babes

Chillin' with My Sister

Who doesn't love a hammock?
When Daddy is home, he becomes the Human Hammock Post; one end tied to our shelving unit and the other to our Loving Popsicle!
What a Daddy won't do to keep his kids quiet...uh-hum, I mean, entertain his children!

Balcony Breakfast: Al Fresco Dining

Balcony Babe

Taking full advantage of amazing Autumn weather, we retreated to the balcony for breakfast this morning.
Everybody enjoyed some much-needed sun on our faces...and the last bits of warm weather before Winter.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Discovery: Hands

What the What!?

One of the many amazing features of having kids is watching them discover their world.
In the words of Grantly Dick-Read, "The ordinary is extraordinary."

Three's Company...


Four's a party;)
Yes, we have a Family Bed.
We bought a crib with all intents and purpose.
Then first baby arrived. 
The crib collected dust. 
Nearly three years have passed and there is no looking back.


There was no talk of moving O from her position in between us, in time for C's arrival.
C sleeps on the other side of mommy, giving her full access to milk.
The crib is now wedged between the bed & wall, which serves to keep us from falling out!


We're not sure if we get more sleep or less.
Morning breath, leaky boobs and baby hurl happens regularly.
We wake up with arms covering our eyes and feet lacing our legs!

 Newest bed-sharer

...and a newborn staring you in the face with those bright-eyes to start your day!
Instant reminder of how lucky you are in life.

NOTE: Most cultures practice co-sleeping. It's not a new trend for crunchy mama's only.

Nighttime Parenting. Parenting is a 24/7 privilege. Nighttime parenting is so much simpler when babes are close by.

Co-Sleeping Safety. There are definite do's and do not's to keep your Family Bed as safe as possible.

Sometimes Co-Sleepers. There are no fast and straight rules to co-sleeping. Dr. Sear's has eight children. The man knows what he is talking about!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Shanghai-Grown Spinach

Hubby has gifted me with Shanghai balcony-grown spinach for our Mother's Milk Soup we make every day with a newborn in the house.
Of all the veggies in the garden, the Malabar spinach has given the highest yield.

Thanks, Love.
Ignore the last email wherein I mentioned your molting hair!
What I meant was, you are as endearing as a newborn!

Same Same

"Same Same", as O would say!

Look at those matching blue eyes.
Matching hair-do's.
Cheeky grins.
Flawless skin.
...and molting spots!

Like father-like daughter!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Smiley & Squirmy: One Month Old


Whatever happens in utero, it comes with, when baby is born.
Charlotte was a Smiler right from the womb!

Twenty-week Smiley

She was also a Squirmer.
Not a puncher or a kicker, but a constant swirl of somersaults and twists.
That also remains the same.

Stretch & Grow

So what's changing?
Baby is getting big!
We celebrate with great gusto..Charlotte's One Month!

Happy You're Here, Baby Girl!

Thursday, October 10, 2013


 Typhoony Toddler

Storms have been raging in Shanghai.
Likewise within our toddler.
Having a little sis at home has brought a mix of emotions...understandably so.

Since there isn't much changing a toddles behaviours, I have to buck up and think of more creative ways to help her deal. The Storm-in-a-Bottle (as seen on Pinterest!), has been an interesting 'soother'.
The fact that the glitter is purple, has not hurt.

Concept is simple. Prep time is even simpler.
Pour a heaping amount of glitter into a bottle of water.
Shake and observe.
Storms rage. Storms calm.
Pictures below, taken by said toddler!

Purple Storm-in-a-Bottle


Like most moms, I get the guilties that I am not doing enough for everybody.
O reassured me last night that I am doing what matters most...being 'mom'.
O: "Are you angry?"
M: "Yes."
O: "You can't be angry. You have to be mom!"
At least in her eyes, I have some semblance of the mother she knows.
Hopefully in her eyes, some things will never change.

Emotion Rocks. Helps kids with putting a name to their feelings.

Being Babied. One Attachment Parenting book I read over and over, suggests treating your kids like babies again. It works like magic to make that connection that is missing when emotions are running high. Kids hit an age when we no longer speak sweetly and the lecturing begins (and doesn't stop all day.) Taking a moment to cuddle, wrap, rock and speak 'baby talk'...brings everybody back together.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Three (weeks)

 Fave Spot to Sleep

Celebrating three weeks with three pictures.

 Rare wide-eyes moment

Big Sis Dressing Baby Up

Friday, October 4, 2013

Big, Bad Birthday Breakfast

 Somebody's Birthday

Here's our main man, pretending to act all of 34 years old.
He actually hates coffee. This is a cup of sugar with a teaspoon of coffee in it!

Traditionally, we celebrate our birthdays over two days, to cover the Chinese & Canadian time differences.
This morning we celebrated Daddy's Canadian birthday with a big, old breakfast.
Since none of us have eaten much but crackers and raisins in these last few weeks, this breakfast tasted like a million bucks!


Honouring O's weekly juice, we ordered a giant raspberry, mango smoothie.
Yes. She can finish it by herself!

 Xintiandi in the Morning

Xintiandi is a trendy village in Shanghai, frequented by tour buses.
We made it prior to the arrival of said buses...for a quiet morning.

 Nestled Snug

Charlotte enjoying her beloved & rightful spot near my heart.

 Veggie Grub

How is it that even hummus and carrot sticks taste better when someone else makes them?


My Yang of a husband orders completely the opposite of me: meat & grease.
Poor guys first formal meal in ages.

Happy Birthday Dabby!
Love, Your Girls