Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter!

We're not doing anything special this year for Easter. Maybe next year when Tristan is 3, we'll do an Easter hunt and he can have more chocolate. Right now he is not familiar with chocolate. He has eaten it before but it's usually part of something else like chocolate chips in a cookie. He has probably tasted chocolate only three times in his life! In fact when I gave him a banana oatmeal chocolate chip cookie last week, he was asking me what the chips were. He was calling them blueberries and I told him they were chocolate chips.

We're heading over to Victoria for my Grandpa's 49th day passing on Tuesday so we decided to make a weekend out of it and go during Easter as well. I don't feel like it's an appropriate time for celebrating but I did bake Easter cookies to mark Easter. Like always, I will be giving most of them away. I usually bake around 55 cookies or two batches. We can't possibly eat that many cookies anyway. I'll probably freeze some as well :)

This week one of the kids at daycare gave Tristan and all the other kids in the toddler room some Easter treats. He was the only one and I was sort of wondering if kids were doing this. It's definitely not popular but it was so nice to receive something :)
Happy Easter and enjoy your day off work!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Our vegetarian week

I said I would make us vegetarians for a week within the first 49 days of my Grandpa's passing. Many Buddhist families will eat vegetarian for some time during the first 49 days or even longer. One of my brothers will be vegetarian for a year.

Today is day 8 of us being vegetarians. We will likely continue for a couple more days since I have lots of leftover food. So far it hasn't been so bad. I have never done this before. The longest I probably have ever gone was a day or two. I grew up eating meat. A lot of meat. In fact, I pretty much grew up on meat and rice. We ate a lot of vegetables in our family as well but vegetables were only optional in meals.

Overall, I think we did well as a family. I was sort of missing meat around day 3 but then it was fine again on day 4. I think it helped that I cooked a lot of new dishes and we had lots of variety. It wasn't too bad cooking without meat in the equation. We allowed Tristan to eat meat here and there but basically he ate what we ate 80% of the time. There were maybe two days where he had chicken or fish in one of his meals. Considering how picky he is as a 2 year old toddler, I think we can call it a success :) It wasn't easy at times but then again it's not easy sometimes even when we eat things with meat in it. For a few days, we had to bribe him to eat every single lettuce from his Caesar salad. It was a bribe per lettuce! Ugh! The third time we served the salad to him, he ate more voluntarily. Goodness. As for Jean-Louis, it seemed like a breeze. For him, he didn't grow up on so much meat and has always urged me to cook less meat. He could probably go vegetarian for months!

Here is what I cooked for us during our vegetarian week:
Obviously, with a menu like that, being vegetarians wouldn't be so bad. I took extra time to plan my week but if we were to become long term vegetarians, we probably would be eating simpler food. However, the above menu does prove that vegetarians can eat well. Some of the new dishes I made will likely become classics and I will likely serve them as part of a multi-course meal, along with a meat dish :) One thing Jean-Louis and I agree on is that there is no way we can be Vegans. In a way, I think the dairy and eggs saved us. Without meat, dairy, and eggs in the equations, we would have grumbled our way through the week. Probably.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tristan's ready for underwear!

No, he's not fully potty trained yet but I would say he is 75% there. The past few days he has been making remarkable progress. We tried underwear on him a few weeks ago but he was wetting his pants several times a day. Now, he maybe wets it once. We use diapers when we are out or when he naps and he still stays dry. He'll still be wearing diapers when he sleeps at night for some time but I can see us giving up the daytime diaper pretty soon.

We're obviously really excited! He is not only staying dry most of the day and peeing in the potty 5-6 times a day, he is now also starting to tell us when he has to go. He poos in the potty too but he has been doing that for at least 6 months already. I guess that was also another reason why we didn't push the potty training so hard since he was already pooing in the potty and changing pee diapers weren't so bad.

When we started Tristan on underwear and he was peeing through his pants, Jean-Louis would get really mad. I was less mad because I knew he had to pee and get soaking wet a few times before he would learn. The good thing is that he really hates it when he is soaking wet. Jean-Louis kept telling me he wasn't ready but after a couple weeks of soaking pants, we are finally seeing progress. When I say a couple of weeks, I really mean a couple of days for over a couple of weeks since he only wears underwear at home with me Thursday, Friday, and a few times on the weekend.

I use stickers to reward Tristan on every successful pee. Jean-Louis didn't like that idea initially but I kept telling him that it's okay and it works. Now not only is he sold on the idea of giving stickers to Tristan but he is giving Tristan more than what he deserves, at least more than what I would give him. For instance, Tristan only gets one sticker for a pee. When Tristan came home with a dry diaper after a trip outside and then peed in the potty, Jean-Louis was so impressed that he gave Tristan two stickers! To think he was against the whole idea of potty rewards in the first place! :)

Tristan only wears underwear at home starting Thursday. On Monday, he goes back to daycare and is in his diaper. We can put up with pee on the carpet here but we can't assume daycare can. Today, when I dropped Tristan off at daycare, I spoke to one of the staff members about his potty progress. They told me that they can try underwear on him at daycare too if I wanted to. Yes, please! If we can transition him into underwear during his daycare days too, he will make even more progress. Being in underwear there will also force the staff to be more attentive to his potty needs. Right now, their focus is still on the older kids who are closer to turning 3 years. In just over a month, Tristan will be 2 1/2 (30 months). It's funny to think we have been putting him on the potty on and off since he was around 15 months old. I should have thought of using underwear sooner:( Although, underwear for very small bums are hard to find.

Monday, April 11, 2011

How a cookie reward turned into a tantrum

Yup, it was one of those days! Tristan was simply not happy around us today. Little things would trigger tantrums and they were being set off every so many minutes. It was utterly the pits! Ironically, he went to daycare during the day too. He woke up before 6AM and gave me a hard time all morning before we got to daycare :( He threw one of his longest tantrums ever. I think it lasted something like 20 minutes. When we picked him up from daycare he was the usual him. We didn't hear anything out of the ordinary that happened at daycare. He was difficult here and there throughout the evening and now, he is tantruming his way to sleep. Yes, go to sleep because I want a do-over tomorrow!

He was sick last week and is pretty much recovered so it's not sickness. He actually had a great appetite today as well. In fact, he ate pretty much everything we fed him during dinner. There was brown rice, egg, mushroom, salmon, duck, bell pepper, and green edamame soy beans. He ate well during the whole day too so it wasn't like he was starving either. It has been awhile since he has eaten this much. Afterwards, he finished his yogurt, papaya and orange. I told him I was happy that he ate well and that he deserved a treat. Jean-Louis and I negotiated and agreed to give him one elephant sugar cookie. Dinner was more or less going well so what could possibly go wrong, right?

It was an elephant sugar cookie. He played with it and then the trunk fell off! When he tried to piece it back together, more of the cookie broke off. It was like a puzzle he wanted to glue back together but he couldn't and he was super frustrated. While this little horror scene was unfolding, I tried to calmly explain to him that it's okay, you can still eat the cookie and it will still taste the same. I told him that when he puts it in his mouth it will break and crush to pieces anyway. No, he didn't go for that. He was mad about the broken cookie so he demanded another one. Yeah, right! So the tantrum begins. Jean-Louis and I looked at each other and I told him "boy, I sure did not see that one coming." Not even a treat could cheer this little guy up today.

Playdates for us, Game Jam for Daddy

On Sunday, Jean-Louis had his game jam hackathon so I made plans for Tristan and I. We had a playdate in the morning with a friend I met on Twitter. She's actually my very first real-life friend encounter from online. We saw each other a couple of other times but we actually got to sit and chit chat this time. She has a daughter who is a few months older than Tristan. They didn't play with each other until 30 minutes after. It was a short play date but like always it was nice to have company over. My friend also brought over homemade Tiramisu and I had tons of sugar cookies. Unfortunately, she was still fasting for Lent and couldn't have any cookies :( Her daughter had some though and so did Tristan. I decorated the elephant cookies just for the little people!

In the afternoon after Tristan's nap, we went over to my sister's place and Tristan played with his two cousins, a 6 year old and a 3 year old. A couple of hours later we were home and Jean-Louis was on his way back too. Luckily with all the company, the day kind of flew by. The past four days with Tristan seemed like a long time. It reminded me of the first year, before daycare when I stayed home a lot with Tristan. I'm pretty sure I was sort of insane back then.

Jean-Louis had a nice day with his Tweeple at the game jam. They had coffee, cookies, lunch and got to leave early. Sounds like the perfect work day to me! He showed me the game he created in the 8 hours he was there and it was cool. It was very basic but it was functioning :) Because of last minute cancellations, there were only three Developers there, including him. Obviously, I shouldn't have made the second batch of cookies. Not only that, but one of the guys was allergic to wheat and couldn't eat any. Basically, I made over 50 cookies for just one new person to eat. Well, two, if you count my friend's daughter. *Big sigh*

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Daddy wants "me time" to do a hackathon

Tristan is in daycare three days a week so I get plenty of me time since I don't work on UI stuff or do housework for a full three days. Jean-Louis doesn't get that as much since he has a full time day job. We both have time after 9:30PM when Tristan goes to sleep to do whatever we want as well. He usually codes and I usually read news or work on videos.

Okay so without making it seem like we're both confined to always being together and not being able to do anything alone, Jean-Louis likes to take me time away from the family to do something fun other than his day job. He feels like he has given up a lot of favorite pastimes already and he needs to be able to do fun things like tweet-ups without us tagging along. Last year, he went on long bike rides by himself. Sure, I get that. I don't really like that he misses a day away from Tristan on the weekend but alright. He spends a lot of time with Tristan at night already but I know Tristan is always asking for his daddy when he is not around. And of course, I wouldn't mind the help either :)

Tomorrow, Jean-Louis is going to get his me time alone by going to a hackathon for iPhone game development. He is meeting up with a few of his Tweeple and they will code from 9-5. He has been organizing it for a couple of weeks now. They found some office space to hold the meetup and he asked me to make him cookies for the event. Now, how can I turn down a chance to make more sugar cookies? In fact, we haven't had any since Valentines!

After some planning and slaving in the kitchen, the geek cookies turned out just like how I had pictured it. Now that I think about it, they are nothing special and they were all rather simple designs but how often do you get to draw game graphics on a cookie? :)

With 8 hours of development time ahead of them, I think they could use some of these to munch on, don't you?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Homemade cake pops

I made cake pops the other day for the first time. I have been meaning to for awhile now since I first discovered them on Twitter. I follow a lot of people who like to tweet their food :)

Apparently, cake pops are fairly new. Only recently did we taste our first cake pops at Starbucks. Hey if Starbucks has them now, they must be the latest sweet trend! It's ridiculously rich and fattening! They are so satisfying too that you only need to eat one. Trust me, you don't want to eat more than one!

I made my cake pops using a brownie mix. I know. It's shameful:( I make everything from scratch normally but we have this huge box of brownie mix my friend gave us. After baking the brownies, I threw in roasted pecans, along with the cream cheese, icing sugar, milk, and butter. As if cake alone isn't fattening enough, right? I only used 1/4 of the icing sugar that was listed in the recipe.

The outcome was pretty and definitely had potential. It was a bit on the sweet side. I would definitely make my own cake from scratch next time and that should help. I used white chocolate and white candy melts for the coating, which is probably why it's a bit sweeter. Dark chocolate would make a difference here too. The white is nicer to decorate and so much prettier though.

For those of you who are curious and would like to attempt cake pops, I have a few tips for you.
  • After rolling the balls, freeze them for hours or overnight. Don't be impatient here.
  • Dip the stick in a bit of melted chocolate first, then dip the ball.
  • Coating is much easier and works better if you have loads of candy melt, as opposed to just enough. I had just enough and only my first ball turned out smooth.
  • Work fast. You don't want your balls to thaw, otherwise it won't work.
  • Don't get greedy on the coating or else there will be a big mess!
  • I used 4 inch sticks and that worked well for the size of balls that could be eaten in one sitting :) You can go bigger but you'll need longer sticks.
Finally, to get you inspired and motivated, you need to check out Bakerella cake pop photo gallery! The decorating possibilities are endless. I absolutely love all the cute cake pops they do.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Toddler underwear! Nah, he's not ready.

That's right. We bought Tristan his first underwear. Actually, we bought him like ten underwear. It's all very exciting even though Tristan is not ready for them yet :) That's okay because he will be soon!

Tristan is actually doing quite well. He's trained for #2 (a.k.a poo), if you don't count the unusual accident he had a few days ago. His diaper stays dry more and more each week. He pees in the morning many times when we put him on the potty and some times after he wakes up from his nap. He some times tells us he has to pee and when we put him on the potty, he does pee. However, he still pees a lot in his diaper.

Last week when Tristan was home with me, I let him wear underwear. I knew he would pee in them so I put on tight pajama pants on him. This way when he did get wet, it would mostly be contained, even if I had to change everything from the waist down. Not even 20 minutes into the underwear test, he peed his pants. Yup! The second underwear test that day stayed dry for almost 2 hours.

You may be wondering why bother with underwear since he is clearly not ready yet. The way I see it is that he needs to feel uncomfortable to want to pee in the potty. If he gets soaking wet, he will clearly not ignore it and continue playing. Some pull-ups allow him to feel a bit wet but we found that it hasn't been helping. He would pee and pee into it and then it would leak. Also, the pull-ups just seem like fancy diapers. To us and probably to him too. Underwears are totally different. In other words, Tristan feels like he can still pee in the pull-ups because they can absorb pee like diapers. He is learning now that he cannot pee in underwears at all!

This week I'm doing the same thing. Thursday more or less ended the same way as last week but today went exceptionally well. We only went through one pull-up this morning and he has remained dry since. The trick is to put him on the potty every one to two hours. When we went out, I put a diaper on him. We came home two hours later to a dry diaper. When he had his nap, I changed him out of his underwear and put the same dry diaper on him. He woke up with a dry diaper. As a result of putting him on the toilet every one to two hours, he peed in the toilet four times today and pooped once. I can certainly see how this method can work really well!

Sounds easy, right? Not so much. Even when he didn't want to go potty, we had to insist. To avoid tantrums, we bribed him with a reward sticker if he pees first. We don't have to bribe him all the time but today, we handed out two stickers to him. It's okay, we have a thousand stickers and he will likely be potty trained before we use them all :) We really don't like to bribe but we hate tantrums more. Also, in the past we learned that tantruming over the potty can give pottying a very bad experience for him :(

If we can keep this method up, I think he could be trained fairly quickly. My friend did this exact same thing and her boy was fully trained after two months. Her boy was 25 months old when she trained him. Tristan is now 28 months old. Tristan is far along enough in pottying training that I think he could be trained in less than a month if we could be consistent. Sadly, I can only do this with him a few days a week since daycare has their own pottying routine. Hopefully our method will register with him enough that his diaper will remain dry most of the day at daycare. That would have to mean that he holds his bladder for longer periods at daycare or he speaks up about having to pee.
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