Toddler Cooking: Chocolate Zucchini Bread

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This is by far one of the best breads I have ever had. Sixtine and I had fun making it – fewer pictures this time as it was a lot messier and I feared my camera would get damaged in the process! We made it for Daddy who was coming home that night. There was a lot of cute moments: Sixtine pouring one large egg in the bowl and the other egg on her apron. “Oh, oh” she said, or when she thought the chocolate chips shouldn’t go in with the other dry ingredients and decided to keep them for eating. She had never had them so I am not sure how she knew they’d be yummy but she had (quite) a few until I was able to explain they were going IN the bowl not in her tummy. I also love the fact that this recipe includes 1 1/2 cup of zucchini, a vegetable that Sixtine wouldn’t eat on a regular basis.

Ingredients + recipe:

1 1/2 cups (360 ml/225 grams) shredded raw zucchini (courgette)

1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (45 grams) unsweetened natural cocoa powder, sifted

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder 

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

3/4 cup (180 ml) semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (we used bittersweet)

2 large eggs (half of it ended up on Sixtine’s apron and it still tasted yummy!)

1/2 cup (120 ml) vegetable, safflower, corn, or canola oil (we used melted butter)

1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar 

1/2 cup (105 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Recipe:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and grease your loaf pan.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients and add chocolate chips.
  • In another large bowl, whisk eggs, add oil, sugars, vanila and whisk again.
  • Fold in the zucchini, and fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients.
  • Bake for about 55 to 65 minutes.
  • Makes one loaf and can be frozen.

Recipe adapted from Joy of baking, our go-to baking website!

Co-sleeping, bed-sharing, or sleep-sharing.

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Last night, I decided to put Victoire in her own bed, in her own room. I am not sure what triggered the decision – she was starting to fuss and I wasn’t ready to go to sleep but didn’t want to leave my bedroom either (Daddy was away) so I thought: “mon beau chat*”, tonight is the night. You are going to sleep by yourself, like a big girl. I kissed her and wished her goodnight. I left the room and felt sick to my stomach. I wasn’t enjoying not having her with me – as we always do. I felt incomplete. I missed her. I went back. Picked her up. And we had a very good night sleep.

I realize that I am not ready to part with her – exclusively breastfeeding her has created a bond so strong that I feel I can’t let go of her for too long. But I need to find a happy medium, I would like to spend some time with my husband and just cuddle, and dream together without a squirmy little individual in between us.

If you have any experience co-sleeping and would like to share tips or “I hear you” type of thoughts and feelings, I am all ears. Especially if you have experience breastfeeding without co-sleeping! I am not even sure that it is what I want. I just know I need to find a better way of balancing one-on-one time with my husband (or myself for that matter, sometimes, I just want time alone) and cuddly-time with baby.

*I nicknamed her my pretty cat.

10 Things About Her

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  • She loves Nature, animals, people.
  • She is fearless…almost.
  • She loves to run, climb, jump.
  • She is very affectionate, bubbly and social.
  • She is very independent.
  • She is a Daddy’s girl.
  • She is strong-willed.
  • She understands.
  • She loves water.
  • She is very smart.
  • She never ceases to amaze me.

Toddler Practical Life: Clothespins

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Sixtine had the opportunity to experience clothespins a few days ago. It is part of Practical Life in the Montessori curriculum and it helps develop pincer grip (which will later be helpful for writing). I used a small basket filled with clothespins and a plastic bowl. This activity wasn’t a success – Sixtine pinched her finger and was a little nervous at the thought of trying again. She quickly realized that the clothespins could stay on the edge of the bowl without pinching. And she seemed happy with herself. I tried to show her again the mechanism: squeeze, line up, relax grip in vain. She quickly showed lack of interest. I will try again another time but with a different bowl – I wonder if the edge was too thick and therefore, harder to work with?

Toddler Cooking: Healthy Strawberry Popsicle Recipe

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Ingredients + Recipe: 2 cups fresh strawberries.

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1/4 white grape juice concentrate (recipe calls for thawed frozen juice but mine wasn’t) + 2 tablespoon of sugar + 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice + 3 tablespoon of water (not shown on picture).

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Combine, process in a blender until smooth.

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Pour into individual popsicle molds (recipe makes 8 – I had some leftover).

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Looks promising, eh? Freeze until firm.

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Savor.

This would be a very easy recipe to make with young children. Just get the ingredients ready as shown on picture and let them pour into the blender. If they feel adventurous you could even let them press the button! This is just what we needed on a very hot summer day (36 degrees).

Toddler Years: Handling Tantrums

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Putting her blocks away without being prompted.

Sixtine is a very bright, wild, energetic and strong-willed little girl. She loves her newly found independence but still needs a lot of attention. I think the hardest part of being 20 months (for my baby anyway) is that she is torn between wanting to be her own individual and needing us – just as much as her 3 months old sister does, but differently.

She has gone through moving out of the country twice, being away from her father half her life in total, changing homes, language, entourage, routine and last but not least, a difficult pregnancy (modified bed rest, hospitalization) and a new baby in the family. Sprinkle with a typical 20-month old attitude and you have a clear picture of what we are going through right now.

She is craving for stability, routine and order which is why the Montessori approach works so well for us. Look at her putting her blocks away at the exact same place! She seems so concentrated and content. I was actually extremely surprised to see that she knew to empty her dirty clothes basket in her sister’s hamper.

One thing though, she is amazing with her baby sister. She kisses her, holds her hand, tells her not to cry, tell her “go” when she wants her to nurse, pour water on her head during bath time (gently – she means to help), shares her toys, will pull my hand when “Coco” is up so I can attend to her right the second ( I think she hears her better than I do ;)…and the list goes on!

However, I have been finding it really hard to keep my cool lately. She whines and cries a lot more than usual, and can be defiant as well. I am not as patient either and I suppose she can feel it too. What I usually do is I will explain to her that I am not happy with her behaviour and will have her sit on a cushion. She knows she has to stay on it until I go get her (usually a couple minutes) and I tell her to think about what happened. She usually gets very offended and cries, eventually, when I come back, I ask her if she is sorry and she will answer: “Yeah” and give me a big cuddle and kisses. It usually works – but for big tantrums, I am totally at lost.

I know I should ignore them but it is easier said than done – raising two young children alone, I have very little time for myself, I get frustrated and tired, I get to miss my husband (and I know Sixtine misses her Daddy so much it breaks my heart) who goes away for work, and at the end of the day, we are all very tensed.

She has also been fighting against wearing diapers but also won’t sit on the toilets. I guess she just wants to say: I want to make decision for myself. And she can make some decisions; I offer choices when possible but it isn’t always.

It makes me very emotional just thinking of it – I love my baby so much and I wish things were smoother between the two of us…

I know that spending quality time together makes a difference – and I sincerely feel that I do that but maybe not as much as she would like – but I would really like to hear how you are going through the toddler stage or how you got through it.

ps: I need a serious plan for potty training. (I can’t let her run around naked anymore as we have mostly carpet in the house!)

Sleeping Nursling

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Toddler Practical Life Activity: Flower Arranging

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Nature Walk. Sixtine, Victoire and myself went for a nice nature walk this afternoon. I thought we could all benefit from the “fresh” air and that it would be a great way of introducing flowers in our “curriculum” if we have such a thing.  Yes, Sixtine has been showing a lot of interest in flowers lately; first by blowing dandelions, then picking up every living flowers possible.

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Material. A basket, a pair of scissors (although I barely used them – I had to put them away for obvious reason. Silly Mama.), hat and water and we were all set. I let Sixtine wandered around and try not to lead the way too much, letting her explore her own way. I gave her the basket and told her to store her findings in it. I like the rock in there.

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Set up our flower workshop. I used a cutting board (the only tray in this house is very – too? – colorful aka distracting and plastic. I plan to get some wooden trays when I can). A vase (tall glass in this case), and a pitcher (measuring jug – can you tell I am on a budget?) is all she needed to make a beautiful bouquet.

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Pouring water into the vase. Proved to be the most challenging of the activity. Practice makes perfect! I love the concentration look on her face and the movement of her hand. She tried really hard to pour without spilling. Love it.

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Gently place flowers into vase. A couple of flowers she picked got tired from the trip and the heat so they didn’t have an obvious top and bottom. So she misplaced them and eventually got rid of them.

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So proud of my little florist! Call us if you have any flower arrangements needs for your events.

Clean up.

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Display and enjoy.

Toddler Practical Life Activities

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Sixtine showed a lot of interest in all these activities this week. She absolutely loves playing with water but more importantly, she likes the independence they provided. She expressed so much happiness and excitement while doing them.

I love observing her as she concentrates to reach “perfection” and tries and tries again. I did not have to ask her to clean after herself. I simply made a cloth available for her and she naturally used it to sponge the water.

As you can see, I used various objects with their own particularities and challenges. She did unbelievably well with the black spoon. I felt that it may not be the best object as I thought it would probably be too difficult but she actually did great. We used styrofoam balls (they are great little floating machines 😉 and ice cubes (she loved them so much that she ate a couple – however, I felt that it proved a little challenging for her to scoop – they would slide off the spoon and she eventually had to use her hands.)

Inspiration: Books. Internet. Pinterest. Yoghurt container idea: Racheous. I am also an unconditional “fan” of howwemontessori.

I am always looking for new activities to try with her – so feel free to link any related blog post in your comment and I will be happy to check it out! Thank you.

Toddler Art: My Little Picasso

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I took painting classes for a couple years and always found it extremely peaceful and relaxing. I stumbled upon this post and decided  it would be the perfect activity for Sixtine! I love the contrast of black and white – it gives so much more depth than regular colors. These two paintings were made at the same time (the objective was for her to experience white on black/black on white contrast) and displayed into Sixtine’s room right after. How proud she was! I think I will frame the white one and hang it somewhere in the house in a few days. It is just too beautiful (I am probably not very objective here).