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!

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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.

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!)

The 6 Week Growth Spurt & Breastfeeding

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Going through a growth spurt and breastfeeding has proved challenging. I am starving. I am always thirsty (and water doesn’t cut it!). And I am beyond exhausted. (It is past midnight and baby is sleeping. I should go to bed.) So tired that my eyes hurt. I have cried the past two nights. More so last night when Victoire was crying, hungry and I felt empty. Not one drop of milk would come out. And all I wanted to do was sleep. I can understand now why a mother in distress would go to formula! We eventually fell asleep and, a couple hours later, some more milk had come in and she was able to nurse. She actually ate A LOT last night. I am hoping that tonight will be a little easier than last night – but I feel fuller, even tensed so it should be. I was able to get support from some ladies on the French LLL Facebook page and it really helped. Who would have thought that something so natural would be so hard!?

Sixtine And Her Terrible “Twos”

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This seemingly angelic little girl turned 18 months about a month ago, and she has well entered the terrible twos. I will say that the terrible twos are, rather than a set age, a state of mind. Sixtine says no a million times a day. And I, say no a million times a day. She says no when she means yes. She says no when she means no. I don’t think she realizes what she is saying no to – most times, she says no for the sake of it. I know it is her way of showing me/us that she has become her own person. And I am happy for her.  But I really hope that it will pass rather sooner than later.  I have been working on redirecting her positively – didn’t think it would be so hard to break the habit of saying no! (Ie: “Sixtine, don’t scream.” Instead “Sixtine, use your little voice.” ) but it definitely needs improving.Yes, I have to confess, sometimes, I react/ed childishly – trying to be the loudest. But a fault half confessed is half redressed, isn’t it? Reading on the subject has given me the opportunity to step back and realize that the most important thing was to keep calm (and have a cupcake)!

How did you get through the terrible twos? Aside from eating cupcakes? 

 

(Not Quite) Irish Twins

(Not Quite) Irish Twins

Sisterly love.
Victoire (1 month), Sixtine (18 months)

Sleepless Nights

She slept through! After almost two weeks of waking up to play for some nights up to three hours a night, Sixtine slept through the night. I can’t tell you how exhausting those past two weeks have been…I was starting to lose it. Literally! Let’s hope it lasts!

Parenting Alone

When Sixtine was about 5 months we decided as a family that I and the baby would go to France for a few months so I could recharge my batteries and it was really needed. I did recharge them and felt better as soon as I landed but I missed my husband terribly after three months. He came for a two-week visit and wedid lots of sightseeing which was a lot of fun. He also had the opportunity to meet all my family, friends and see where I was from etc… I told him I never wanted to be apart again after being away for so long.

But again, Sixtine and I flew to France on the 27th of October and won’t be seeing him until the birth of the baby (unless he gets some time off for Christmas). Our future is pretty uncertain as he is starting a new job and doesn’t know what is in store for him yet.

I am exhausted ( I have said and written that a lot lately. Forgive me.) and raising Sissi by myself is pretty challenging. My husband is a very hands-on father, always willing to help. It feels like I have no break without him around. It is 24/7. I am definitely not your stay-at-home mother type of person and I am starting to wish I was going to work. I know it sounds horrible but I don’t think it is. I love my daughter to death. I just want to be my own person, not “just” a mum.

I miss him terribly and Skype hasn’t been doing a great job. It is always cutting up, and there is like a 8 hour time difference which means at midnight there it is 8 in the morning here.

To sum it up: Parenting alone su*ks! – especially when you have the most awesome husband in the world!

Starting Daycare For Socialization…and a bit of a break for Mama!

So it is official – although I am only meeting with the daycare’s manager next tuesday, Sixtine will be starting daycare on the fourth of December. It will only be for an hour at first, so we both get to know the educators, the children and the place and they get to know  more about little Miss Sissi, her sleeping habits, what she likes, doesn’t like, her personality…

I have to say that this is something that makes me overjoyed for two reasons:

  1. I know my daughter and I can tell she has been craving the interaction. She is a very outgoing little girl, and she loves people – strangers, friends, family, you name it. And she especially love being around other children. I think it will be a great way for her to socialize, be challenged and stimulated, have lots of fun, and progressively get more independent, as baby two comes in the picture in March.
  2. After 13 months of being with Mama 24/7, we are both going to have a break from each other. And that makes me happy.

When the lady told me that she would be starting early December, I was both excited and somehow emotional…As much as I have been wanting this time to arrive, it is going to be an adjustment to take her there and let her alone with people for hours not knowing what is going on. It almost feels like taking her to school for the first time – my baby is growing so fast!

But I know she will have a wonderful time. I can feel it.

Plus, I am exhausted and I NEED time for myself.

Letter To Baby #2

I am sorry.

I am sorry that I don’t play music for you as much as I would like. And I am sorry if sometimes I feel sad and cry. You are our second baby girl and we love you just as much as the first one. It is just different. Your big sister takes a lot of my time and energy and Daddy went away to work. I promise to be the loving mother that you deserve when you come to this world. I want you to know that I love you so much. I just can’t be there for you all the time and talk to you, feel you, and interact with you as I did for your big sister. It breaks my heart little sister.