27 months old

Boys turned 27 months old on Oct 2nd. They weighed 14.5kg each, about 32 lbs, very heavy, thanks to their good eating and sleeping. This past month has been really exciting. Lin and Li talked more, now they can say the word “more” while they do the sign. Li likes to say “let’s go”, and they picks up words from different places, “wheel”, ” egg (they say it more like letter I)”, “why”, “where”. They are definitely more active than an average 2-year-old boy. I can take them to Lollipop by myself but definitely not the park yet. Every chance they get, they run and they are so fast I can’t catch them both. They don’t listen too well still.

The biggest challenge is probably Lin being strong-willed. Li is much easier to handle, he doesn’t throw tantrum (yet!!!), but at times he gets quite attached, for example, Elaine came this Thursday and Li could not bear that both of us are leaving, he ran after me when I was leaving couple of times, and I sat with him at his dinner table, while I was talking to him about leaving for a bit, he was heartbroken again. He obviously understood everything I said. Elaine told us later on that Li stood by the door and sobbed for about 20 minutes. Well Lin is a piece of work, he continues to throw tantrums, but I read an article about parenting strong-willed children, and I found it easier to deal with if I try to diffuse the situation, and just hold him for a while when he’s upset, he usually gets better. Thankfully his tantrum doesn’t last too long, even though very intense. Children who are strong-willed want to do a lot of things on their own and they don’t like losing that control. So trying to discipline them the same way is not going to work. I learned to offer him choices, and it worked really well. For instance, when he refused to put on this shoes when we get to the playcentre, I will take out  2 pairs of shoes, he will choose one pair and let me put it on. Then I asked him if he wants to stay in the car (and betting on his answers will almost always be a loud “No”), he will be out of the car. If I just try to force him to wear his shoes and pull him out of his car, I will end up with a screaming monster.

They are very sweet boys they smile a lot, kiss a lot, they are curious and excited about so many things. I love their age now, even though at times, I feel that my head is going to explode. I feel so fortunate to be able to watch them grow up, taking lots of pictures and videos, and keeping a good routine for them. Routines are so important to keep everyone happy in the house. For Lin and Li at this stage their routines are:

Eating

I now make our own bread everyday, for the time being, it’s the mixed flour (wholemeal and plain), pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame, and raisins. They get the breast milk first thing when they wake up, then fruits: banana, gold kiwi, apple, bread with either almond butter or peanut butter. They eat throughout the day, about every 3 hours. Each has 1/2 avocado, one egg, and main (fried rice, vegetable soup, bean soup or tofu). I also give them the home-made soy yoghurt, mixed in with flaxseed oil and LSA. Dinner usually is organic tofu, and definitely a bowl of dark green vegetables. And they love it, for now either broccoli or chard. They also have breast milk before and after their nap then sometime in the evening. So I breast feed them at least 3 times a day.

Sleeping

They are the best sleepers ever, if they are not sick. Their nap time is around 12:30 to 1pm, and usually for a good 2 hours. At night, usually after dinner, Michael take them for a shower, they would shower themselves now, then straight to the bedroom without seeing me. This way it’s easier for them to go to sleep, they will go to bed between 7 and 7:30pm, and wake up around 7 or 7:30am. When the day light savings hit in early Oct, they actually sleep one more hour, because they went to bed earlier but still wake up the same time so that’s great.

Play

Our boys play a lot, every morning, we take them somewhere. During the school term, they love going to the playcentre, and they are occupied all the time. During school holiday, I take them to Lollipop, or when Michael is with me, we go to Esplanade, or Te Manawa where they have a cool kids’ playroom. They also just love running around and spend their energy. In the afternoon they usually just love playing with each other in the house. I noticed they are not very interested in the toys, but more on real things, they can play with a key by the door for hours, or climbing everywhere (sometimes on the dining table), or picking flowers in the yard (by the way this is a real great example of play). They are really fun to watch! They also get a bit of show time in the morning, in the car or at night, but only for a very short while, when we make the compromise to take care of the household chores but they get absolute 0 commercials.

Things are getting so much easier now with the boys. I feel that we are slowing getting our life back. Michael and I still go out every Thursday evening for a dinner or a quick board game. We continue to host the Friday board game night, having fun with his co-workers, and our friends. We usually stay up pretty late till 1 or 2am, but we have Saturday to recover 🙂 I am organising events for the Palmerston North Veg*n Group . Michael is doing much better dealing with the boys, and enjoying them a lot more. They are really precious.

Language Development

Lin and Li are picking up words very fast, and they start talking in short sentences, which is very encouraging. Being twins they seem to talk to each other all the time, which is the cutest thing although most of the words we can’t quite understand. They can understand both Chinese and English.

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Almost 27 months and it’s a great age!

Boys will be 27 months old in a week, and the past few weeks have been so wonderful. Lin and Li got their appetite back after getting over the cold, they are eating really well, Elaine watched them last Thursday and fed them a whole plate of chard, they split a can of baked beans and then each had a slice of home-made bread with peanut butter. I am really happy they are eating their vegetables, it seems to work every time when I offer them green vegetables first before anything else. Tonight they each had a plate of purple cabbage and chard, when Li was done, he tried to steal from his brother’s plate, and within seconds, Michael and I watched them clean up their plates with absolutely nothing on it, they they each had 1 and half bowl of fried rice, boy, they can eat 🙂

I’ve been experimenting with making lots of food at home, bread, soy milk, soy yogurt and tofu. It’s really fun and we are able to have delicious bread for example, with organic mixed flour and lots of seeds, and the price is so much cheaper, actually with the bread machine, it’s not time consuming at all. My recent adventure was to get the EasiYo, a yoghurt maker, to make soy yoghurt, that cuts down the cost for a 250g organic soy yoghurt from NZD$3.25 to about $0.60. And boys love them especially when I mix in blueberries and kiwi, it’s amazing they are used to eating the very sour plaine yoghurt without any sugar or honey. They also love the adzuki bean soup that I grew up with, without sugar. I am buying bulk dry goods now from Chantal Organics and it’s great, as well as their bi-weekly vege box. All of a sudden, my boys have grown up a lot, they bring so many laughters, mainly because they can communicate better, and listen better even though they are very destructive but that is the inevitable part of bringing up boys so I can’t complain.

I take Lin and Li to the playcentre on Tuesday , Thursday and Fridays, they are too busy at the sessions to make trouble so this term I actually get to talk to other moms and be more involved now as the C0-social/PR officer and I really enjoy organising events. On the other hand, Michael and Jessie are leaving town so they asked me to run the Palmerston North Veg*n Society, there’s the Oct 1 World Vegetarian Day planting session and the Vegan Hotpot on Sept 27th. These social events keep me happy and make me feel that I am still have some sort of social life. I find it inspiring to learn from other parents, and the support we get from the playcentre is overwhelming. I am happy that there’s a lot lined up for the school holiday. Thanks to the boys, who are the best sleepers ever, I have some extra time during their afternoon nap, which starts around 12:30pm till 3 or 3:30pm. After Michael comes home from work, I cook dinner and serve it around 6:30pm, then he takes the boys for a shower (yes they are showing now and they are great at it, turning on the faucet on and off on their own), then at 7:30pm they go to sleep and won’t wake up until 6am, if they are not sick. Having twins at this age is actually so much easier even though at times Lin throws some tantrum, but it doesn’t bother me too much. He did it last Thursday and Friday at the playcentre, I took him for a walk one day and the other time, I took him for a drive then he fell asleep on the way back, it’s really wonderful other moms are so supportive and they watched Li while I was soothing Lin.

Boys are very curious and creative at this age, they are more independent when it comes to play, they also know when to go into the corner when they get themselves into trouble. I do not like to punish them or say “no” too much to them (at playcentre parents are very discouraged to say no, instead we need to tell them what we want them to do, I find this really helpful). They are also talking a lot, and learning to negotiate, I find it much easier to nicely ask them to do something, than using force, this is especially true with Lin. He does not take forcing well at all, but he is very sweet and generous if you ask him to do something, like giving food to his brother, it is really funny though that he would sit down and whine or cry if he doesn’t get what he wants, I just ignore him and usually after a few minutes he will come around.

We are getting to know more parents as well, every Sunday we meet up with our neighbor, the couple has a son Neil he’s just about a few weeks older than Lin and Li, three of them played so hard over the weekend running around their beautiful yard I wish I brought my camera! I am so happy that we are living here, even though there’s not a huge Chinese population, there are enough Chinese students at Massey, last night we went to the Mid-Autumn Festival celebration organised by the students, had great fun, Michael even got picked out to participate some game, because he was good-looking, they matched him up with a young student, so I think he had a great time 😛 and also I must be too old to be chosen :(. Friday night is our game night too, Arno, Michael’s coworker and Arnt, Michael’s officemate’s younger brother have been coming here for couple of weeks now. I really love playing board games now, the only problem is we usually tend to stay too late, often till 2:30am.

Overall we are very happy with everything, we are able to go out at least once a week, can get plenty of sleep and have a better network of friends. It seems our hardest time is behind us now.

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Winter Season of Sickness

It’s been a busy month again, this time it was a bit more difficult than usual. Lin started a fever at the end of last month on August 29th, it lasted about 2 days then his fever went down, Li then started his fever, which was not surprising. A few days later we took them out for a walk and Lin started the fever again, this time it lasted four full days – longest ever! It’s been hard on us, since Michael and I had a cold and at night the boys were waking up from coughing and discomfort, so we spent most of the nights co-sleeping with them, boys especially Lin wanted to be held and nursed all the time.

The season change in Sept is hard, lot of windy days and the temperature fluctuates a lot. There’s also a lot of rain too. For two weeks we stayed at home, boys didn’t have an appetite at all, mostly they survived on breastmilk and kiwi fruits. At 26 months, their weight dropped to about 13.5kg (compared to 14kg at 24 months), I was seriously worried that they aren’t eating enough for the first time, but Li’s appetite improved since yesterday, still with a bit of cough, he’s eating quite well sitting nicely at the playcentre for an hour enjoying his first sorbet and rice puff.

This 2-week long winter/spring cough/cold/fever experience is quite draining. I will have to start my yoga classes again to gain back my strength, other than my arms for holding a 14kg toddler all day long. I thought the only thing we did differently was when Lin was having his first fever, we gave him some panadol, maybe the medicine suppressed it so he got it again after 2 days. But I am happy that they are well again!

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All About Food

My boys can eat, period. I am not thinking how much they can eat when they become teenagers since they eat more than we do! Their diet is like this more or less, at age of 2.

7am                 breast milk

7:30am          Usually three fruits (banana, apple, kiwi, pear, orange) depending on what’s in season, a piece of bread with nut butter (usually almond or peanut butter) or freshly made blueberry muffins (everyone loves the vegan blueberry muffins so usually a whole batch will be gone by noon among 4 of us)

10:30am        morning tea: one of the main (green vegetables like spinach or broccoli,  vegetable soup like lentil, mixed beans or leek and beetroot, tofu burger mixed in with seeds, onion, bread crumbs, seasoning, LSA), one green vegetable (broccoli, ta choi, or spinach), fruit (tomato, apple or banana)

11:30am         if at playcentre they get their treat, usually a raisin scone

12:30pm        nap

1:30pm           breast milk and continue to sleep

3:30pm          half an avocado each

4:30pm          soy yogurt mixed in with raw salad or greens, beetroot juice, flaxseed oil, Sacha Inchi, cashew nuts, I used to use yeast extract and brewer’s yeast for B12 but Li and I seem to have rashes after taking them so we cut out the yeast instead I am taking B12 supplement and ordering some from Dr. Gil for the boys

5:30pm          breast milk

6:30~7pm     fried rice (buckwheat, brown rice, white rice), or pasta with nut butter, green leafy vegetables (this is when boys usually eat a lot of greens)

7:30~8pm    asleep in bed

I can’t really squeeze more food into their system, there’s simply very little time when they are not eating or sleeping. Ever since we went back to the playcentre at term 3 (late July), they’ve fallen asleep on the short 10-minute ride home, I now just leave them in the car, they usually wake up around 1:30pm crying for milk then I put them on the breast and nap with them till 2:30pm or 3pm. It’s been nice that the boys are sleeping during the day and through the night. Michael and I actually have time to watch How I Met Your Mother, True Blood plus sometimes a movie everyday!

I just can’t tell you how much we love the vegan diet. It’s the not the potato chips and diet coke kind of vegan I am talking about. It’s the very complete, varied foods from each vegetarian food category, and yes kids can be trained to love vegetables and dislike sugar. We haven’t bought sugar in our house for at least 2 years, just in recent month, we started using Stevia, after learning that it’s not an addictive or processed sugar. It’s nice to have it for the topping on the muffin. If Lin or Li is offered a tofu burger and a lollipop, it’s guaranteed they will take the tofu burger and I am really happy about that.

Yet 2 year olds are definitely challenging at the table, they do not like bibs, sometimes food is more like fingerpaint, take yogurt for example, they love to dig in with their hands and feed themselves that way. At a result, mom does a lot of cleaning around the house. Boys also like to take their food and run. After going to the playcentre they’ve improved quite a bit sitting at the table eating, but then there’s always something they are fascinated about. Li had to break the record last Friday, he casually ate his lunch, then the scone, and did not want to leave the table for 1 hour and 15 minutes. I just never know what’s going to happen at the table.

It hasn’t been easy to find the right supplier, I went with Chantal Organics last week and ordered their organic vege box, it’s huge packed with varieties of organic fruits and vegetables. I am quite happy with them, it’s a better option than the co-op, price wise and we don’t have to pick it up. They drop them off at the front door before 8am in the morning so Wednesday is like harvest day, quite fun to sort things out and get organized. Combined with Organic Living, we are quite happy with getting a good varieties of produce now.

There were a lot of trial and error going on in the past few months, the latest experiment was making tofu at home. I didn’t have the proper equipment and calcium chloride or nigari, so I had to use lemon juice, the result wasn’t too good but I was able to make vegan burger with the tofu. It was really delicious, since we eat so much tofu, I think we are going to invest in the press and nigari, so we can have fresh organic tofu at home without paying $5 a block.

Some interesting videos on food:

 

 

 

 

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It’s all about play

After my aunt left, Elaine has been helping me taking the boys going to places every weekday. We are going to the Park Rd playcentre now on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Boys love going there, they get to play different things all the time, the parents are impressive when it comes to caring for their own children, they become very creative and responsible. We had a new support person there this term, her name is Corallie, she’s lovely and very active, she’s quite good with the children. She has also been doing the morning sharing time, bringing in new ideas. Every week we are making something different for the morning tea, hummus, toast, quesadilla for this week and next week we are planning on making damper, a kiwi thing similar to scone but roasted like marshmallow. I’ve done the rice paper spring roll and inarizushi, people liked them, it’s just really nice being to learn and contribute. I also feel that at playcentre because kids are mixed aged, there’s very little competition, younger kids can learn so much from the older ones and the older kids are like the role models they have that sense of responsibility to care for the little ones.

Boys loved playing with new things, they now are using real tools! Also they love the sand pit, their favorite thing is definitely playing with water, but they get so messy, my best investment are the waterproof overalls and rain jackets, saves so much hassles, they are great. Here is a collection of the videos taken at the playcentre, I love the one Lin eating sand!

 

 

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Terrible Twos? Times Two!

The two year olds do not listen, they do whatever they want even when I yell at them, and they scream in the time-out room, also in the library, mall and restaurants. They throw everything including tantrums and absolutely love it, they pull over a stool, a toy or just a box to stand up high enough to grab stuff on the countertop and just before they reach what they want, they turn their heads and give you that mischievous smile, then they grab it and run away as fast as they can with a giggle.

Yet I still love the two year olds, even though it’s double trouble times two.

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Peace is back and I feel like taking pictures of what I am cooking today

Yesterday boys played nicely at Lillipop, today at the Warehouse they were good again, Elaine and I were really happy. Boys fell asleep in the short ride home on both days so I was able to eat lunch before they woke up. It was nice, I felt like taking pictures of what I cooked, well everyday I spent about 2 hours making breakfast and lunch, dinner usually is quick stir-fries, light and healthy eats.

These are really interesting cookies, I got the one for the whole family (aka Michael & the boys), and one that’s for breastfeeding mums (that’s for myself), they also have one for the pregnant mums. The one I am eating has fenugreek and fennel seeds. They are vegan and delicious. 

For breakfast, I added these sticky rice hearts for my comfort stew with azuki beans, barley and dates, a traditional Chinese dessert, but I didn’t use sugar (that’s what the dates are for!), forgot to take a picture of the stew though

Afternoon snack, vegan chili con carne pie, loaded with organic ingredients, the extra dough was used for raisin balls, perfect for the little ones

A quick stir-fry veggie plate has become a regular item on our everyday dinner menu, whatever I can find in the kitchen, tonight it was tofu, broccoli and carrots, with a bit of vegetarian oyster sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil

Brussel sprouts are not the easiest thing to cook, but it can be delicious. I used the Sichuan cooking for cabbage on this guy (they are in the same family anyway). Cut them in quarters, soak and wash with salt water to disinfect and quick fry with garlic, olive oil, dried chilli (seeds taken out), Sichuan pepper corn, vinegar and soy sauce. So good!!!

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Tantrum SOS

July 15th was my Black Monday! It rained all day and I started with Elaine this week to take the boys out to different places, I picked the library because the walkway leading to it from the garage at Harvey Norman would kept us dry. It turned out Lin and Li totally lost interest in playing with the slides on the second floor, shortly after we got there, they headed straight to the drinking station. The first 20 minutes was fine they now know that they need to catch the water with a cup and they can serve themselves water. They drank a lot, filled up the cup a lot, and spilled the water a lot. In the end they were pulling cups and throwing them in the rubbish bin. I usually don’t pull them away from the things they are playing with but at some point, it was getting out of control and we were right next to the staff counter. As soon as I picked up Lin he started screaming and crying, he struggled to get out of my arms and stretched his body and hit the back of his head on the floor, which made him cry even more! Thankfully Li was pretty good throughout Lin’s tantrum.

Needless to say, it was kind of embarrassing even for a mom with twins like me who has built up thick skin over the past two years. Lucky me, this was not the end of the story after we got home, both of them worked together and somehow figured out how to open the sliding door (they could do the French door but never noticed the sliding door in the hallway), AND at the same time, they were able to reach the door knob and open every single door! Before I knew both of them were in the tub, in their clothes, jumping up and down and turning on and off the faucet! What a nightmare, I ended up using two containers full of toys to block the living room door from the outside and spent the rest of the day with them making sure they didn’t get into trouble until Michael got home.

So many firsts in a day!

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Busy weekend

Things are for sure quite different after my aunt leaves. Luckily Elaine is willing to help me out taking the boys out for couple of hours a few days a week when we are not going to the Playcentre. I also got approved to have the playcentre pay her to be the support person for our boys, we are indeed lucky to have moved here. The cost for preschool programs are is zero.

Boys were good continuing to sleep through the night after my aunt leaves, Michael now takes them to bed and they seem to be happy. I still breastfeed them about 3 times a day but not  before bedtime. On Saturday they missed their nap because they were having too much fun at Owlcatraz but then they went to sleep at 4:45pm, didn’t wake up until 6:30am on Sunday.

On the other hand, today was pretty tough, it rained all day so I took the boys, picked up Elaine spent about 2 hours at the library. Boys lost interest in the slide, which they absolutely loved before, they were so fascinated by the drinking station, first we were happy to see them mimicking what people were doing, pulling out the cups, catching the water, even throwing the cups in the recycle bin. But as it went on, they started playing with the water, I normally don’t pull them away from what they are playing with but it was getting too messy so I held Lin, he immediately started crying and screaming, it was so loud and sad, everybody was looking at him. I would say that was his first tantrum, and it’s IN PUBLIC! Finally I just had to take him downstairs and finally calmed him down by giving him some green onion crackers. Just when I thought my day couldn’t get any worse, in the afternoon, both of them figured out, at the same time, how to slide open the door to the lounge, which is a restricted area because of all the electronics (and happen to be their favorites: TV, remote controls, iRobot, tablet, cell phones, etc.) that they have been trying tirelessly to break into for months, AND they somehow were able to turn the door knob and open all the doors. As soon as I got into the kitchen or got on the phone, they would be in the lounge. I had to stay with them the whole afternoon until Michael got home. Don’t they just give you new challenges, all the time?

Anyway, the past weekend was really fun and busy, we took the boys to Owlcatraz Nature Park in Shannon, which is 20 minutes away by car. It was really beautiful even though some of the animals are still in captivity, we loved the tour walking around the lagoon and the bush. We let the boys out of the stroller towards the end of the tour which is to get into the owl house, Lin and Li were way too distracted and the owners gave us a rain check to go back another time, in other words, we got kicked out 🙂 But I don’t mind at all taking them back again, they have a nice picnic area with a playground, so boys should enjoy it next time. At their age, they just need to run around and around.

After we got back, Michael was putting them to sleep (turned out they didn’t want to), and I took a drive to do some grocery shopping and joined the Asset Sales protest at the square, it was a pretty decent crowd, peaceful. Got some great shots using my new Samsung Galaxy Note, the screen was awesome, OLED, best I have ever seen on any device. Also enjoyed the photo editor on the phone, it was amazing Android is getting so popular.

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Steamed Bun Party

Today we had the last party before my aunt leaves for Shanghai. Elaine taught us how to make steamed buns and we were all amazed at her skills, we made the green onion rolls, and buns with Shanghai bok choy filling and vegetarian chicken fillings. They all came out really really good. Shun Mun made fried rice and buckwheat, it was really delicious, I made some stir-fried vegetables, and vegan Thai coconut chicken soup (Tom Kha Gai), everything was really delicious.

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