Meet a How Do You Do It? author


Ambereen is mom to two cute twins Mister and Missy, now with a third baby on the way! She’s Canadian eh, and lives in Canada’s capital with her husband. Between travelling and an active social life, she works full-time in the public sector in IT policy. She enjoys writing short stories interjected with subtle humour about life adventures, sharing recipes, and coming up with fun yet simple activities to do with the kids. After a short hiatus where life got in the way of writing, she is back blogging at 2Cute – Adventures in Twin Parenting. She is looking forward to sharing her experiences here at HDYDI about life with twins + 1. And yes, it’s only one this time!

Foodie Friday: Stovetop French Fries

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At our children’s day care, Friday is “French Fry Day”. I know this because that is how Mister answered my question about what day it was. And why not, who doesn’t like French fries?

As a mom, I’m not too crazy about the idea of feeding my kids salty French fries from the Drive-Thru. And although I don’t mind the occasional treat of French fries, I am always trying to make healthy food for the kids.

Our neighbour N showed me a great way to make homemade French fries for Mister and Missy when they were toddlers.. boil the potatoes on the stovetop! This is a great meal for little ones who wouldn’t know the difference between boiled, baked or fried! Not only is it healthy and quick to make, it’s easy to little mouths to chew.

Below is the uber-simple recipe for you to try. Enjoy and let me know how it turns out.

Oh and stay tuned for my next post on how to make veggie fries.


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Do You Celebrate Christmas?

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It’s hard not to get swept up in the ‘Christmas spirit’ when you are immersed in a winter wonderland that lights up every December with magical lights, Christmas carollers, bustling shopping centres and generally happy people.

Every year around this time people ask me if I celebrate Christmas. My answer is this: I celebrate it on a social level – not on a personal level.

My family is from a Muslim country where Christmas is observed by less than 2% of the population. December 25th is a national holiday in Pakistan, but not for the same reason as it is here in Canada. There, it is the birthday of founder Quaid-e-Azam, who along with Mahatma Gandhi, carved the country out of the Indian subcontinent. The major holidays in the Pakistani calendar are the two Eids: one commemorating the end of Ramadan, the other for the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.

My hubby – Mr. Mama – hails from British Guyana where Muslims, Christians and Hindus celebrate their other’s festivals. His experience with Christmas is different from mine. A Guyanese Christmas includes many of the Canadian elements, plus a traditional meal of pepper pot (delicious sweet beef stew) and festive Caribbean music.

Growing up Canadian, we were introduced to local and Gaelic Christmas traditions by our ‘Chachi’, an Irish lady who married our uncle. As kids, my cousins and I would go over to their place on Christmas Day to decorate their tree, watch holiday specials on TV, gorge on candy and junk food, then proceed to eat a whole turkey dinner complete with the trimmings. It was an annual event, and lots of fun. Oh and it was kids only which added to the excitement! I suspect our parents were more than happy to have us out of their hair.

Back at home, my parents never put up a Christmas tree, and I don’t remember ever asking them for one. It was enough for me to go over to Chacha and Chachi’s and celebrate it in their home. I was content with watching TV specials throughout December, getting gifts for friends (if I wanted to, no pressure there), and wishing people ‘Happy Christmas’, Irish-style.

Once we all grew up, things went back to December 25th being another day except that businesses and stores are closed and people stayed home from work. Often, our family and friends would take this opportunity to host dinner parties for no other reason than to get together. These dinner parties did not have any special themes, nor were they held in homes decorated for the holiday. The food was always served buffet style with an Indo-Pakistani menu.

Other years, we would travel during the holidays as far away as India & Pakistan for a few weeks, or as close as Toronto for a few days to visit relatives. I remember being very surprised when we visited New Delhi one year in December and saw inflatable Santa Clauses all over. The lack of snow and other North American symbols made me forget it was the holidays and that many people in India celebrate Christmas.

One of my favourite things about the holiday break was when non-celebrating friends who had moved away came back to visit their families between Christmas and New Years. It was a great opportunity meet up because, like me, these friends were free on the 25th!

In my opinion, it’s not about whether you have a traditional feast and open presents on December 25th. It’s about the mood during the entire month leading up to the holidays. Over the years, I’ve learned all the non-religious Christmas carols by heart, sang at old age homes during the holiday season, and wrapped gifts for less fortunate children. Last but not least, I’ve shopped to my heart’s content up to and including Boxing Week… scooping up deals for myself to last the whole year. Why not? I was single then.

Now that we are responsible adults, we will share gifts with our close neighbours and exchange cards with office colleagues. I considered getting gifts for the educators at Missy and Missy’s daycare, but it’s hard to think of what to get so I think we will just stick with cards decorated by the little ones themselves.

I’ve embraced the best of the festive spirit of the country in which I live. All without compromising my personal beliefs and values, and without the pressure or stress that comes with finding the perfect gift or hosting an elaborate feast.

Mister and Missy are born in Canada to parents of the same faith yet different cultural backgrounds. They like their Guyanese curry and roti, Indo-Pak tandoori chicken, Christmasey eggnog, and Quebecois French fries. Now the question is: how will they view Christmas when they grow up?

It’s only one week away from Christmas Day. What will you be doing on December 25th? And do you think Christmas is mainly for the kids?

Happy Holidays!

2Cuteblog lives in Ottawa, Canada with her husband and their three year old twins. You can read about their multicultural adventures on her personal blog at or follow her on twitter @2cuteblog

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Foodie Fridays: Indian Roti (Flatbread)

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Growing up I used to help my mom in making roti (also known as chapatti) which is a flatbread similar to the Mexican tortilla. She would make the dough and I would sometimes help her roll it out into a circle (or a square, or the map of India, or some other shape) and help her to pan fry it.

In many traditional Indo-Pak families, the lady of the house would make fresh roti every day for dinner. That is just not feasible for most families nowadays, so you buy the chappatis in the grocery store. However since I am trying to domesticate myself by trying to make food from scratch whenever possible, here is my take on how to make rotis in your home!

It’s a simple, affordable and healthy alternative to store-bought bread.  The best part is kids love it and you can sneak all sorts of healthy ingredients without them knowing it! The one downside is it is a 3 step process and can be a bit time consuming and requires some practice to get it right.


Anyone can make Indian ‘roti’. Just take a note from our kids when they use playdough!

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Foodie Friday: Pizza for Toddlers, Made by Toddlers

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My plan was to do a pictorial story of when Little Mister and Little Missy made their own pizzas for dinner one evening after daycare. Unfortunately, my portable hard drive (aka photo treasure chest) is corrupt and I have so far been unable to salvage photos and videos taken of our twins from the last two years! Our toddler pizza experience was one of the collections which is unsalvagable so far.

So I will be up to you, the reader, to… PICTURE THIS…

It’s the night before TGIF and I am inspired to do something different for dinner to take us into the weekend. After looking at what ingredients (aka leftovers) we have available: a packet of Indian naan, can of tomato paste, green peppers, ground beef and chicken. I settled on making “plate-sized” pizzas. And hmmm why not take it one step further and let our 2 1/2 year olds design-their-own?

After doing a quick google search for pizza sauce, I came across this super easy recipe: Why not make homemade pizza sauce so you at least know what goes into it?

My goal was to get all the ingredients ready beforehand, and like craft time, get the kids to “assemble” it. The pizza sauce needs to be chilled so it’s the perfect thing to do the night before. The ground beef was already cooked with spices, and we had some leftover cubes of cooked chicken ready to use as another topping. Half a block of cheese was grated the night before also. After work the next day, and before going to pick them up from daycare, I quickly sliced up the mushrooms, tomato and green pepper.

When the kids came home from daycare they donned their aprons and got to work preparing their masterpieces. Each got a small round baking pan (used by Mr. Mama for making nachos) to hold their naan (flatbread). Each got a small stainless steel bowl with spoon to hold their pizza sauce. I showed them how to spread the pizza sauce over the naan and they got really into it! Luckily it didn’t get onto their clothes.

Next up we had several toppings. It was neat to see what types of flavours they were choosing. The sliced apples they were munching on while they worked went on there…. sliced mushrooms, and very few green peppers and tomato slices (not their favourites). The meat toppings of ground beef and cubed chicken were carefully arranged as if part of a puzzle. Finally the grated cheese… oh the cheese.. In two containers of course, one for each! A chunk of it was eaten, the rest was fought over. But finally it perservered and the pizzas were complete!

Here’s where I wish there was a photo to show you what their finished products looked like. Picture a tandoori naan pizza shaped like, well, India (coincidence? hmm). With apples as a base layer, some random vegetables and meat, and topped with lots of cheese. It looked like a cheese mountain. Then in the oven it went. Luckily, it didn’t take long as all it needed was to be toasted until the cheese melted (since all the beef and chicken were pre-cooked).

As I wasn’t sure whether Mister and Missy would be able to wait for the pizza to be ready, I gave them another meal while we waited. But when those pizzas came out of the oven, they wanted “Mow !” (more)

Would we do it again? For sure! At first Mr. Mama wasn’t too thrilled about the idea of an apple pizza but I gotta say, the sweetness of the apples gave it a nice flavour.

Sometimes we don’t give toddlers enough credit. Future chefs, perhaps?

Ambereen is mom to almost 3 year old B/G twins and is always looking for ways to let them help in the kitchen. Aside from fulltime work and planning meals for the week, she maintains her blog 2Cute – Adventures in Twin Parenting

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Twinfant Tuesday: Co-Sleeping

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Here we are in the second week of the new “Twinfant Tuesday” series where different HDYDI authors reminisce about the first year with twins. Today’s topic was inspired by a girl I knew in university. We lost touch over the last few years and recently got back in touch when I heard she is expecting twins! They may very well be here by now.

As any mom-to-be of multiples, particularly as a first-time parent, she was scouring the Internet looking for advice and tips on how to handle two at once! One very important question she had was sleeping arrangements in the early days with our twins.

I had to push back some cobwebs to get to that memory of Little Mister and Little Missy’s newborn days and nights. What I do recall was, for the first 6-8 weeks they were in a Pack n Play bassinet together, then in the same crib until 5 months.

As for co-sleeping with a parent, during those first few months (until they were about 3 months old), we would have one baby in a Close & Secure Co-Sleeper and the other swaddled in the crib with a tent-like cover to block cool air. It was the first winter in our house and freezing at night, so we wanted them to be warm.

Myself, I would often co-sleep with one at a time depending on who needed the attention. Usually it was Little Mister because Little Missy slept through the night at a very early age (4 months!)

I would not recommend having both babies in your bed at the same time, even if it is a King side bed. Since I was both nursing and giving a bottle, one or both of us had to get up anyways for feeding time so exclusively co-sleeping in the bed would not have changed anything.

It didn’t take us long to realize that quality of sleep with a baby (or two!) in the bed or nearby crib is not the greatest. But snuggling up with a cuddly newborn (or two!) is worth it… most nights.

Ambereen’s boy/girl twins are now 2.5 years old and she although she still enjoys snuggling up with her toddlers at bedtime..more often than not, she finds herself trying to tiptoe out of their rooms without waking them up.

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E is For Elmo.. A Toddler’s Friend

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Who would’ve thought a furry red monster would bring so much joy to little hearts? When I first brought home a plush Elmo chair from our local “Twice as Nice” twins sale, it was love at first sight for our twins who were 18 months old at the time. For once I decided to buy them something slightly different and it worked out. Amazingly, Little Mister and Little Missy did not fight over the red Elmo chair. The Elmo chair was understood to be Mister’s while Missy accepted the purple Tinkerbell one.

First they saw what Elmo looked like. Then they learned his name. Then they realized he was a live character living on Sesame Street full of other lovable characters like Bert & Ernie (or “Boat & Oynee” in Toddler-speak). Cookie Monster was Elmo. Grover was Elmo. Anything cute and furry became Elmo.

Next up we started showing them Elmo videos on YouTube. I will never forget one of the first times we watched Elmo videos with our twins. It was almost bedtime and when the video ended, Little Mister got teary-eyed when we told him Elmo had gone to bed. It was really touching to see how much Mister loved Elmo and missed him. This was before we bought them Elmo stuffed toys which are now their most prized possession. When M&M wake up in the morning, it’s Elmo! Elmo! Elmo! until he is found. Then it’s “Dere Elmo!” (There’s Elmo!) Then Elmo gets plopped into their little shopping carts and off they go, racing around the house. Or Elmo is stuffed into a train or truck and leads the way for other stuffed animals.

Having a character they love can be handy. When Missy refused to brush her teeth, we broke out Elmo’s teeth brushing rap video. Quite catchy, actually. Although Missy was mesmerized by the video, it was Mister who got motivated to brush his teeth like Elmo recommends in the song.

What is it about this loveable character that young children (and adults alike) love? There’s a documentary “Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey” which chronicles the pathway to fame for Kevin Clash, the voice behind Elmo. In the documentary it talks about how Elmo’s character came to be, and even how Clash got to learn from puppeteer masters such as Jim Henson himself.

Cute, cuddly Elmo is a child monster. Love and innocence are two of his qualities, which is why he resonates with young minds. Even down to the way Elmo talks in incomplete sentences and finds joy in the simplest things in life.

Granted, there is controversy surrounding Clash these days. But scandals aside, I am thankful for all the happy moments, smiles and hugs that Elmo has given my toddlers.

What are some characters your children love? Have you been able to use them as a tool for teaching or even discipline?

Ambereen’s B/G twin toddlers are helping her to reconnect with her childhood through Elmo and other Sesame Street characters.

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Balancing Work, Home, and Mommy Guilt

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Working fulltime with two little ones at home is proving more difficult than expected. It’s been 8 months now since returning to work after extended leave, and I thought we had it all figured out. One thing we didn’t factor in was how busy and challenging my job had become in two years.

We’re doing everything right, or so it seems. Mr. Mama and I take turns cooking and we have someone coming in to clean the house twice a month. Mr. Mama does most of the daycare pickups and dropoffs while I help him get the kids out of the house. We tag team during mealtimes, bathtime and bedtime. We even have extra help from the Grandparents once a week and on the weekends.

Our morning routine is consistent. I usually wake up first to get ready for work and make breakfast. Then I get Little Mister and Little Missy, chang them and start on breakfast while Mr. Mama gets ready. In the evenings, I’m home 10 minutes before the twins which is enough time to warm up dinner. Then follows bathtime and an early bed.

Other things I do to save time and energy: pack my lunch 2 days ahead, write down daily priorities at work, write up weekly “To Do” list at home, set out the twins clothes for the week and set out my clothes for the week. Despite all that, we never see the neighbours, let alone our friends, and barely have time to catch up on the rest of the life.

As another twin mom put it, every day is organized chaos. I know this is for a short time only because the kids are so young. But that’s the sad part! Every day they seem to grow an inch and learn things at an exponential rate. And I’m too tired right now to enjoy it. That, my friends, is mommy-guilt. How do you manage yours?

Ambereen, mom to 2 year old B/G twins, is constantly striving to find some form of balance between all the aspects of their busy lives. Read more on her personal blog.

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Nursery Song Sing-A-Long

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You know the saying only a mother can translate what her baby or child is saying? Well I’m embarrassed to say that many times even I don’t understand!

Little Mister and Little Missy are in their terrible twos and while some days are true to the name, most days are full of joy. Every day they say cute things and add new mini-words and sounds to their teeny vocabulary.

One day, Little Missy broke out into a nursery song while we were driving somewhere. The words she was repeating were “Da bah – wa wa wa. Da bah – wa wa wa”. Then both M&M placed a finger to their mouth and said “Shh Shh Shh.” My first thought was, cute! That must be a French nursery song they learned at daycare! (they are in a bilingual environment) Maybe it’s a quiet time song they do before naptime. I made a mental note to ask their daycare provider what that fun song was my kids loved so much.

A few days later, I heard a new variation of the song. This time, both M&M got into it… swaying back and forth singing: “Ma ma – wa wa wa. Mama – wa wa wa” to what sounded like the tune of Sesame Street. Again ending off with “Shh shh shh. Shh shh shh”.

When I finally remembered to ask at their daycare what the song was, imagine my surprise when they told me it was the classic The Wheels On the Bus! That’s a song we sing both at home and at daycare. At home I will do my own variation of it, half in English, half in Urdu. The song M&M were singing was in English… not French or Urdu.

So much for my theories. Next time they sing the song, I’ll join in instead of over-analyzing the words!

What are your childrens’ favourite songs? Do you find yourself humming them in the shower or better yet, while driving by yourself?

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You’re Proud To Be A M.O.M. When…

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This is a Top Ten List I compiled last year for our local Multiple Birth Families Association’s (MBFA) Newsletter. Now that I have another year of twin-pertise under my belt, I’ve updated it. Enjoy!

You’re proud to be a M.O.M. (Mommy of Multiples) when…

10. Your multiples are mini-celebrities wherever they go.

9. When talking to a pregnant lady, you refer to her baby in the plural form.

8. You forget which child was changed/fed last so you change/feed them all.

7. You hear “You must have your hands full!” every time you go out with your kids.

6. You also get comments like “double the pleasure!”, “triple the fun!” or better yet, “double trouble!”

5. Your friends with singletons (or more) keep saying “I don’t know HOW you do it!”

4. Your multiples introduce themselves as twins / triplets and ask other children “where’s your twin?”

3. People ask you if you will have any more (!)

2. Your partner considers a vasectomy after hearing this question.

And the #1 reason you’re proud to be a M.O.M….

1. You wouldn’t have it any other way!

Ambereen is M.O.M. to 2 cute toddlers and is still learning what it means to be a mommy of twins!

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Dealing with Twice the Mess

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From the point of view of a toddler, if you’re told no for everything, then how do you figure out what’s really off limits?

I thought I could avoid it. I thought if I used a word other than “No”, my twins wouldn’t say the word back at me. That theory worked until they started daycare and saw the power of the word. But for a long time, whenever something spilled in our home or somebody got pushed by mistake, my response was “Oh oh”. With the exception of biting because that called for more drastic measures. In our house, physically hurting someone was a no-no and everything else was oh-oh.

Pretty soon, “oh oh” became the standard if some crumbs fell onto the table, or if milk dripped onto the floor. Whenever we heard it from Little Mister and Little Missy, Mr. Mama and I knew to arm ourselves with a paper towel (or better yet, dustbuster!) before going to see what they were oh-oh-ing about. Instead of getting upset about the mess, we give them each cloths to help us wipe it up. This way, everybody wins and both of them get started on solving the problem.

Toddlers are very keen at observing when something is not right with their world — even if it’s a crumb on the floor. Granted, it can be hard to stay calm when messes occur, especially when you and the kids are overtired. However, remembering that they are not dropping things on purpose to annoy us (even if at times it feels like it!) helps to keep things in perspective.

Now our toddlers’ cleanup skills are coming in handy by shovelling the snow left by this weekend’s snowstorm!

Ambereen blogs at and is constantly chasing after her twin toddlers, paper towel in hand.

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