Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I'm not punking out on this blog already, I promise! I just sat down to do a few things and realized that while I am planning to do an activity tomorrow, there is no way I will be able to post before we head out for our extra-long weekend. Remember how I said the rules will change? ;)

I have a feeling there will be many New Things while we are away on our too-brief sojourn into the wilderness. I will post when we return...pinky promise!

In the meantime...HAPPY CANADA DAY!

New Thing #2: Fishies, Bunnies, Noisy Birds & Snakes

Kids have an uncanny knack for instinctively knowing when you don't want them to do something and going ahead and doing it anyway. Today I am trying to get everything done so we can go away tomorrow night for an extra long weekend of camping. As I struggle to clean, do the laundry, pack and figure out what we need at the grocery store, they find ways to mess up each room I have just cleaned, unpack what has been packed and knock things over on themselves, causing me many mini-heart attacks. I don't mind, though. I wouldn't have the luxury of being home to clean and get us ready to go away if I didn't have them.

What I'm trying to get at here is that I wasn't sure what we were going to do today. My mind was more on what I had to do than what I could do with them. As I was trying to coax LP1 into going down for a nap, inspiration came to me. I told her that if she took a big nap we would go to the pet store when she woke up. The pet store! Stroke of genius on my part...very little prep work to go there!

Now, to be fair, both LP1 and LP2 have been to the pet store before but not for a long time. We haven't taken LP2 since he was very young. Now that he is getting older and taking more of an interest in his surroundings I figured he would enjoy the outing. In order to make this as "new"as possible, I decided to do as much as I could with them on the way there, at the pet store and on the way home.

Once everyone was changed, dressed and loaded into the car (today I forgot to put shoes on LP2 but whatever, he's a BABY and I knew he wasn't leaving the stroller so I was prepared to talk any random Bad Parent Stern Lookers into leaving us alone), we headed out. LP1 and I sang songs about animals, starting with "How Much is That Doggie In the Window?" and ending with "Old Macdonald" because these are the only two songs I could think of about animals. We talked about the different noises animals make, which ones have feathers or soft fur or long trunks, and what animals we were likely to see today (apparently they do not sell kangaroos in pet stores, much to my disappointment).

I wanted to go somewhere close, so we hit up Big Al's. The nice thing about Big Al's is that they have a wide selection of just about everything so you can really stretch a trip here out.

                                  If they don't sell it, you don't need it!

We started out in the fish section and this was an immediate hit with LP2. He laughed with delight at each new tank we passed and was fascinated with the fishies. I think we could have just stayed in the fish area and that would have been enough for him. LP1, however, had other items on her agenda.

                       The famous Big Al's shark. Wednesday night is feeding night!
                       No thanks.

We left the fishies and headed over to the area I call "everything except for fish and creepy things". Both kids really enjoyed the guinea pigs, mice and the 8400 birds chirping and swinging and pooping everywhere. They were especially taken with the rabbits and wanted to stop to watch them hop and eat and do rabbit-like things. We cruised by where what we call the "noisy birds" are to listen and watch them. I have no idea about bird species. They were all parrots to me.

                          "Uh...I'll take "Birds Kinda Creep Me Out" for $100, Alex"

Next up was where the creepy things are. You know, snakes, frogs, lizards, things they call dragons but don't appear to breathe fire, spiders, etc. Fortunately both kids do not seem as taken by these creatures from hell. LP2 actually drew back when he saw them. LP1 was sort of grossly fascinated but didn't want to linger. Thank goodness because I really hope we never have any of these creatures in our house. They tend to escape and show up in weird places later. My nightmare is that we'd have some awful snake that would escape and I'd be having a shower and right at that moment where you close your eyes and tip back your head to rinse your hair it would drop down on me, causing me to fall, break my hip and have to add screaming to Daddy for help in addition to my screams of pure terror. My apologies to anyone who loves these creatures. Bravo to you.

             Waiting for Mothra to give the word that the time to take over the                        world is near.

We cruised by the pet salon to watch a dog getting a hair cut, something that intrigues both kids for reasons I don't quite get. We said a last goodbye to some fishies and hopped back in the car. We talked about the animals we saw today before cruising through a drive-through for a chocolate milk for LP1. I think both kids enjoyed this trip today. It is really gratifying to see LP2 start to take an interest in specific things, like fish. I'm sure this will lead Daddy to suggest we get an aquarium. I will suggest we keep visiting the pet store!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New Thing #1: Spencer Smith Park

As the Black Eyed Peas once said, "let's get it started"!

I've always thought that if you are going to start something, go big. Or, do something that requires you to pack a diaper bag, change the kids into appropriate clothing, pack backup clothing and towels, rub them down with sunscreen, load the double stroller into the back of the car, chase the dog back into the house and break his heart that he's not coming, and realize you have to change diapers again before you even leave the house.

Our One New Thing for today was a trip to the splashpad at Spencer Smith Park. It was a hot and windy day with clouds chasing each other all over the sky. It was the kind of day that was too windy to have fun in the backyard but just perfect for running through fountains of water outside. Although Daddy & I had taken LP1 there last summer, both kids hadn't been. I figured that even if we just went for an hour we would have fun and see something other than the jungle we call our backyard.

Spencer Smith Park is in Burlington, Ontario and it is a beautiful green space tucked up beside Lake Ontario. There is a wide promenade between the water and the park. In recent years a large playground and splashpad have been added. It is a magnet for young children, families, dogs, couples, geese and the odd random lunatic. We went mid-afternoon and the place was not swarming with children, much to my intense relief.

                        The playground at Spencer Smith Park. Note to 
                        self: do not park near it unless have backup to help
                        watch LP2 while LP1 attempts to climb on everything.

                        The aforementioned splashpad. Note the absence of
                        8 billion screaming childen. This is why it is good to
                        go on a weekday.

We found a shady umbrella, kicked off our shoes and headed over to the water. I realized that I had forgotten LP2's sunhat. Judging by the looks I got from the other mothers there, this was tantamount to child abuse and I began to nervously scan the parking lot for the Children's Aid van I was sure was coming to snatch up my children and haul me off to jail for Failure to Provide the Necessities of Life. Fortunately I do have a big head and by leaning forward while I was holding him, I was able to provide the same shade as a mighty oak tree. In case you are concerned, let me reassure you that he did not get sunburnt. In fact, no children of mine were sunburnt in the execution of this one new thing.

The kids LOVED the water. At first they were unsure but it took LP1 all of about 45 seconds before she was darting in and out of the jets, splashing and making footprints on the concrete. LP2 was happy to have his feet in the water and get the occasional spray. He wasn't too sure what to make of it. I would like to thank the judgmental mothers who sat and watched the edge of my skirt trail into the water as I knelt to help LP2. There is nothing more pleasant than realizing half your skirt is soaking wet. I'm telling myself maybe they didn't know how to say "excuse me, your skirt is getting wet" in English because I'm trying to think more positively about people these days. But as it was a hot and windy day, skirt dried in no time flat.

                                     Hopefully LP1 didn't inherit my big feet!

We left the splashpad once the kids were soaking wet but before they could melt down over it. Once dried, changed and returned to the stroller we headed over to The Bite for some ice cream. I don't think The Bite has the best ice cream ever but it does make amazing quinoa burgers. I mention it because places that offer a vegetarian option are dear to my heart. LP1 and I shared the ice cream while LP2 dined on baby cookies. Once the ice cream and cookies had vanished, we headed out on a walk. The walk was going well until LP1 spotted some geese and announced that they scared her and LP2 decided to start crying for no apparent reason. We changed direction and stopped to take in the view.

I decided it was time to leave on a high note. We headed for the car and took the long way home, LP1 talking to me the whole way about playing in the water, eating ice cream and seeing other kids. LP2 discovered he could put his legs as high as his head in his carseat so he wasn't saying much. I think our first new thing was a success...we will definitely be back!

And we begin...

When you're 21 and you wake up each morning, unsure about what you're going to do with your day, that is Normal Life. When you're the mother of two young children and you do that, it is Time to Panic. My maternity leave is more than halfway over. Little Person 2 (LP2) is starting to creep and crawl and becoming more interested in the world. Little Person 1 (LP1) is into everything. I feel like we need a game plan during the day. We need to be doing something. There are only so many books we can read and independent playtime I can encourage. It won't be long before I'm back to work and wishing I was at home again with them. I don't want to return to work regretting not spending enough quality time with them.

This is why I am here.

Starting today, June 28, 2011, I am challenging myself to do one new thing a day with the little people. And I'm starting this blog to keep me honest. Not only do I have to do something with them, I have to take pictures and write about it. Publicly. When my motivation wanes or I start to run out of ideas I will have this blog to remind me that I can't slack off.

Of course there are all kinds of rules and exceptions. The "one new thing a day" challenge is only for weekdays, when it is just the little people and I. This is, after all, something I have come up with for myself. Our weekends are family time and usually pretty busy. That said, if Daddy is up for a new thing, I'll post it. Rules are, after all, made to be broken. It has to involve myself and both little people doing something together. I do new things with each of them individually quite often. The harder challenge is in finding something that appeals to a 2 year old and a child under the age of 1 simultaneously. We won't always do something big and grand. I know there will be days when the "one new thing" may mean letting the kids wear each other's clothes because creativity will be low. But I hope that won't be the case. Hopefully we will do things together that are fun, provide a new experience and teach them something, too. And if other people want to join us...the more the merrier, I say.

Forward...onward...let the challenge begin!