Friday, July 29, 2011

New Thing #23: You never know who you'll run into...

Hi, my name is Mommy and I am an addict. Oh, I'm not confessing anything as part of the first of twelve steps. Just makin' a statement of fact. I don't need rehab and I won't go cold turkey. What I need is a lovely, oversize, steaming hot cup of delicious, delicious coffee. I COULD get through the day without it...but why would I?

Although I almost did today.

The coffeemaker is usually programmed to begin making its magic elixir right before Daddy gets up in the morning. By the time I stumble incoherently and bleary-eyed out of bed, the pot is full and greets me like a long-lost friend. I have never been much of a morning person and when you add the chronic sleep deprivation that comes with young children, I NEED that warm cup of love to shake the mental cobwebs and help me function. I don't think of myself as a coffee snob - I'll drink anything. But...in a perfect world, it would either be Caramello from Second Cup or anything from Dunkin' Donuts. I'm sure they'll strip me of my Canadian citizenship for not professing Tim Horton's as my true coffee love. I mean, I like it, there's nothing wrong with it and fortunately, it is available everywhere, but I only like it as a friend. A friend who has lots of convenient drive-thru locations. I have always loved flavoured coffee but when I first discovered Dunkin' Donuts (on vacation in Indonesia, ironically enough), I vowed to cheat on the flavoured coffee whenever I could. I wish Starbucks would leave Canada and Dunkin' Donuts would replace it. And open up a branch at the end of my street.

But I digress.

As you have probably surmised, we didn't have coffee this morning. And I was sad. But we had to go run an errand to help Grammy out, so I figured I could acquire coffee along the way. Grammy had lent a book to a lady who runs a knitting store near us and she needed it back. She asked if we could go pick it up. No problem. I decided to load the LP into the stroller and take the shoelace express to fetch the book. They've never been to a knitting store. A New Thing would present itself along the way.

It had been pouring rain earlier in the morning. The rain had stopped and the sun was trying to decide if it wanted to come out. It seemed like the perfect time to head out on our errand. The LP were more than happy to hop into the stroller.

Are those grey skies gonna clear up? No matter, I had two happy little faces, entirely unconcerned about the weather, to keep me company.

As we walked down the street, I was stuck by how utterly silent our neighbourhood was today. It felt like the world had ended and we were the last three people left. Nobody was out. No cars passed us. We could hear every bird singing, the breeze blowing and the cicadas making their cicada sound. It was very tranquil. We completely destroyed that as we chatted about what we were seeing, sang songs and made random noises. It was also incredibly humid out. By the time we got to the corner that led to the main road, I was a sweatlodge.

We made it to the knitting shop and browsed about while the owner was taking care of some business. The LP were fascinated with all the yarn. They wanted to touch it and I let them. We looked at knitting patterns and needles. We talked about the things Grammy knits for them. We looked at some jewelry on display and admired how sparkly it was. I don't think they understood that balls of wool and yarn become sweaters and blankets, but I know they liked the bright colours. Little Miss Tactile particularly enjoyed the different textures.

If I owned a knitting shop, I would call it "Wool You Knit With Us?" But first I have to open my religious-themed cheese shop, "Cheeses of Nazareth".

We retrieved Grammy's book and left. Now to figure out a way to get it to her by tonight. Worry about that later. The no-coffee crabbiness was starting to set in. I was planning to go to the corner store for some essentials, a treat for the LP and coffee (they actually make pretty good coffee there). As we were walking towards the store, we saw Grandpa drive past us! He had Auntie J and Uncle M with him. We knew we might be getting a visit from them today, but we weren't sure when. I sent Auntie J a quick BBM and it was only a matter of minutes before they were turning into the parking lot of the store to meet us.

The LP were so excited to see Grandpa, Auntie J and Uncle M. We decided to go to the nearby Tim Horton's and with that decision, I was able to accomplish my three goals for today: to do something with the LP, to return Grammy's book, and to desperately get some coffee in me. This was LP2's first coffee date. He enjoyed eating bits of a plain bagel while LP1 had her usual chocolate milk. We had a very nice visit with everyone. LP2 was beaming mega-watt grins from the highchair while LP2 alternated between sitting with Auntie J and Grandpa, showing us her dance moves and playing in the stroller. They were very well-behaved.

A lovely cool breeze had kicked up by the time we left so the walk home was much easier. Full and happy, the LP began to doze in the stroller. Once we got home, I was feeding LP2 in his room when I noticed that LP1 was uncharacteristically quiet. After he had been put down for his nap I went to investigate. LP1 had put herself to bed and was softly snoring. Unprecedented! I closed both of their doors and tiptoed upstairs. It seems today was the kind of day where nothing was planned but everything worked out perfectly.

Little things that make both LP1 and myself very happy.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

New Thing #22: To market, to market, to buy a...mom purse.

Murphy's First Law of Parenting states that the length of a nap depends entirely on the agenda of the parent. If the parent has nothing on the go and would just like some quiet time, the child will either refuse to nap or take an abbreviated siesta. If the parent has something planned for a specific time, the child will fall into a deep and lengthy sleep, only to awaken roughly at the time the parent wanted to be somewhere.

Or so it would seem in this house, anyway.

The Hamilton Farmer's Market recently underwent a massive renovation and now includes a community kitchen. On Thursday mornings, free cooking classes for children under the age of 6 are offered. I thought this would be a fun New Thing for the LP to check out, particularly since today's class was all about using strawberries and LP1 especially enjoys them. Yesterday afternoon I arranged everything. Auntie K was going to join us and we were going to leave early so we would have time to explore the market before the class.

Ah, the best laid plans...

LP2 followed Murphy's First Law of Parenting and decided to have a very long nap this morning. Now, there may be some who are thinking "why didn't you just wake him up?" and the answer to that is this: because VERY BAD THINGS HAPPEN WHEN YOU WAKE THE LP UP. If we don't have to wake them up for something, we don't. And as much as I really wanted to check out this class, it didn't fall into the category of Good Reason To Wake A Sleeping Baby. There's a reason that cliche exists. I let him sleep and he woke up at the time I wanted to leave. By the time I got everyone dressed, packed and carseated, I knew there was no way we were going to make the class. Seeing as it was just a drop-in thing, I wasn't too fussed. I figured we would check out the market, have some lunch and, if time permitted, go have a peek at the Central Library, as it has also undergone an extensive renovation.

We picked up Auntie K and headed to the market. There has been much hoopla in the local media about this renovation and I'm sorry to say...I didn't really like it. When the market was being renovated, all the vendors were relocated to a different spot and I liked that much better. Yes, it was vaguely industrial-looking but it was so much more conducive to strolling, browsing and sitting down for a bite to eat. The new market feels more crowded (even though I think there are less vendors), less airy and has less of a hey-wander-around-and-just-enjoy-yourself kind of vibe. I'm probably in the minority of people who feel this way. Some of my favourite vendors are gone and while there are some fun and funky new vendors, my initial impression was...meh. As my office is located quite close to the market, I will probably check it out several more times when I return to work but it is definitely not a very stroller-friendly place.

The newly-renovated market. The clock is called the Historic Birks Clock but is also known as the "Clock of the Charging Horseman". It was designed by the same guy who designed the Canadian penny and nickel. And that is your useless trivia for the day.

We cruised around the market. I was very happy to see that the lady I like to call "The Cookie Lady" was still there. You'll never guess what she sells!  This lady is probably responsible for at least 10 of the too-many pounds I put on in both my pregnancies but it was worth it. Her cookies are damn good. I have no idea if she makes them herself or has an army of bakers, frantically turning out baked goods or if she buys them from the Make It Look Like Homemade factory. Just as we were passing her, LP2 was starting to have a bit of a meltdown. He was hungry. We found a cookie both LP could eat and bought two. And then there was silence.

I don't want to come across as totally negative about this new space. There are organic breads, a coffee place I'm definitely itching to try and a cupcake lady I must give a wide berth to unless I want to be known as Wide Bertha. There are lots of lights and little fun touches throughout the market.

Giant pom-pom things hanging above a florist. They added a nice bit of colour. How do they make those?

It wasn't long before we had toured the market. I could see that both LP were getting antsy. We needed some lunch. We elected to skip the foodcourt and all the distractions it offered for a sit-down place. This is when I realized I need a mom purse.

When I was a little girl, I was fascinated with purses. Specifically, with purses carried by mothers. My mom had a Mary Poppins bag of endless stuff. Her purse never seemed all that big but it somehow always held what we needed, whether it was something to draw with, something interesting to play with or a something to eat. There was always a mint or a little package of saltines or sometimes a breadstick in there. I'm starting to think she just seized her opportunity at restaurants to replenish her supplies. I bet she got someone to cause a distraction while she dumped an entire bowl of mints into her purse or helped herself to all the crackers by the soup in the buffet line.

But it was not just my mom with the Mary Poppins bag. When my aunties and my grandmother on my father's side would visit, they would usually leave their purses by the front door with their shoes. I would stare at these bags. Usually they were large, hard-sided, rectangular black holes. Grandma K's purse in particular captivated me. It was crammed with amazing things...the odd can of Pringles, change, a rosary,  assorted candies, some yarn, pictures of everyone in the family...if I didn't know better, I would think she was the British MacGuyver.

Until I became a mother, my purse has always carried rather mundane things. When LP1 was born, the odd diaper, package of wipes and maybe a bib found their way in. But after our visit to the restaurant today, I've come to realize that when you have a toddler, you now must develop a fully-functional mom bag. It needs to include crayons, paper, a variety of snacks, a sippy cup, a bib, toys that will hold the child's attention, books and the usual diapers/wipes/change of clothes. Actually, forget the bag. I need a suitcase. Fortunately for us today, there happened to be a colouring book it the basket underneath the stroller and Auntie K had a pink highlighter, so we made it through lunch. But I will not be caught unawares again! It is not that LP1 was misbehaving; it is more that you cannot expect a two year old child to sit quietly and make it through an entire lunch in a public place on her own. Well, at least not one of my children. There are people to look at and things to touch and new spaces to go explore. And while I think the only way children learn how to behave in restaurants is to take them out, I also now realize that it is madness to not provide things to help them stay in their chair and focus.

Once lunch was over, it became obvious that the LP needed a nap. We decided to skip the library for today. Maybe we'll try to go to the library and the cooking class next week. I think the LP liked looking at all the different things for sale in the market and the wild assortment of interesting characters populating it today. Hey, maybe next time we go, we'll even buy something!

Auntie K was unwilling to try the REALLY HOT HORSERADISH. This disappoints me. I need to find someone who will give it a go because I really enjoy watching people try very hot things.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

New Thing #21: A walk, a splash, a frantic search

Today was an improvise-on-the-fly kind of day. I had a few ideas of things I wanted to do with the LP but I've come to the conclusion that there are certain activities that are easier managed with two adults, rather than just one. Sometimes you just need that second set of hands to help corral children, carry things or help keep your sanity. I now have a short list of things we can do next time someone says "hey, what are you and the LP up to today? Want to get together?" Sure! Sucker. Can you carry a double stroller? Let's find out.

After giving the matter some thought, I decided to hit the waterfront trail with the LP, followed by a visit to a splashpad. There is an area that stretches from Hamilton into Burlington known as "the Beachstrip". With a major highway on one side and Lake Ontario on the other, it is a popular place in the summer. It was sunny and hot (but not scorching) this morning, so I decided to pack up the LP and check it out with them.

Ah, ye olde beach trail. Back in the day when I used to run for fitness and not just in response to "SUPPER TIME!" like I do now, I used to love running along this trail with Auntie K.

We were going on a walk to see what we could see. And there was much to be seen today. Lots of people walking, running, rollerblading and biking. Don't these people have jobs? How were there so many people out and about on a Wednesday morning? As per usual in Hamilton, we also saw lots of unusual characters...a lady pushing a stroller with a dog leashed to the side of it, running alongside. You may think this sounds perfectly normal until I tell you that the stroller was FOR THE DOG. There was no child in it. There were no children anywhere near that lady. Just some dog treats and a cushion in the stroller. Why is your dog running beside the stroller? I don't get it. Further continuing the theme of weird dog-walking, we also saw a man riding a bike, pulling one of those bike chariot things behind it. You know, the kind of wheeled contraption that usually has children sitting in it and looks, in my opinion, highly dangerous? Well, this guy had his basset hound strapped into it. And the basset hound was howling the entire time. At full volume. The LP were fascinated by this. So was I. We looked around at the scenery, we spied on people's houses, we watched bugs jumping and cranes digging in the dirt. LP1 scared a runner who was passing us by yelling "HEY LADY! STOP RUNNING!" Ah, that kid never fails to make me laugh. It was almost as funny as the time Auntie K and I were running along a different waterfront trail and she screamed because a snake was going across the path and it scared a guy on rollerblades, causing him to trip and go flying through the air. Four years later and I'm still laughing as I type this. Yes, I laugh when bad things happen. It is part of my many charms.

This would make a great spot to have a picnic. If you were the kind of person who thought ahead and packed a lunch, rather than stuffing some chopped-up fruit and a few packs of baby cookies into your bag.

When it became obvious that the LP were tiring of this walk (seriously, how can they get tired? Are they the ones pushing the stroller? No. No they are not.), I appeased them with snacks and we retraced our steps back to where we had started, at the Lakeland Centre. There is a splashpad right in front of it and a pool off to one side. Daddy had noticed the splashpad awhile back and he suggested it as a possibility for one of our adventures. Since it wasn't far from home, I thought this was a great idea.

The splashpad looks inviting as you are passing it on the road. When you are up close and personal, it is a bit of a different story. I think there must be a large goose population in the area, as the grass surrounding the splash area was full of goose poop. Charming. There's nothing more fun than running over goose poop with a stroller! Oh, wait. Yes there is...finding goose poop in random spots all over a splashpad designed for children to play on. Along with litter, random debris and leaves clogging the drain so that eventually it becomes a small wading pool. The LP were clearly excited to play in the area so I figured that as long as they kept their shoes on and didn't roll around on the ground, it would be okay. Judging by the number of children and adults running barefoot, apparently I'm the one with the issue. Everyone else seemed fine with it. Yeech. It was fine to try it out today, but I don't think I would go back there again. It just felt dirty and gross.

Water shoots out from the anchor and the whale's tale and a few strategically-placed fountains. Notice the smudges on the pavement? That's where poop shoots out of a goose.

I set the stroller off to one side, got the LP changed into their Little Swimmers and bathing suits and we set off. I noticed the grass was a bit wet but I really should have paid further attention to this. As in, looked around and did some critical thinking. Instead, I was trying to keep pace with LP1 while holding LP2.

The good news is that the LP really, really enjoyed the splashpad. LP1 was shrieking and running from one jet of water to the next and getting thoroughly soaked. At one point she joined up with a group of older kids and was running around with them, clearly having a great time. LP2 was also digging it, but this is no surprise, as he's our little water baby. I alternated between holding his hands so he could stand up and be sprayed to holding him in my arms and letting him play with the water.  He was laughing with delight the entire time. Both kids got soaked and I think it was a welcome relief, as it was starting to get really hot.

The bad news is that wet grass I had noticed earlier? Was wet because when one of the strategically-placed fountains erupted at random times, it sprayed water everywhere. All over the stroller. And all the things inside it. Sigh. At least it was water and not a fountain of Sharpie marker. THAT would have been very irritating.

I had to play the role of Mean Mom once again and make the LP leave. I was starting to get concerned about sun exposure. I also try to leave before meltdowns happen and I knew LP1 in particular was due for a nap. With extreme regret, they allowed me to load them back into the stroller so we could head back to the car to get changed. The awesome thing about driving an environment-destroying SUV is that you have what amounts to a huge change table in the back. A change table that is remarkably free of goose excrement, I might add.

The problem started when I muttered to myself, "where is Hello Kitty?" as I was finishing changing LP1 back into dry clothes. I don't believe we've ever discussed Hello Kitty. Basically, Hello Kitty & Mariah (a Cabbage Patch Kid) are two of LP1's favourite toys and they often accompany us everywhere...in the stroller, the car, the backyard, camping, or all over the house. I guess Mariah was in LP1's bad books today because only Hello Kitty came along. Unfortunately, LP1 heard me and immediately started to wail. I quickly looked in the backseat but didn't see her. This sent LP1 into Air Raid Siren wailing levels. There was a man parked beside us, eating his lunch and watching the lake. He stopped what he was doing to watch how our little drama would play out. I really felt like asking him to stop staring and start helping look for Kitty if he was so interested, but I had more pressing things to deal with. Like calming LP1 down. At this point she was screaming "HELLO KITTY IS GONE! SHE IS LOST!" I put both kids back in the stroller and went back to the splash area. No Hello Kitty. More crying. I asked two ladies if they had seen her. They said they saw LP1 holding her as we left. Crying became screaming. As we crossed back over the parking lot, I began to panic. The place was teeming with children. What if someone picked up Hello Kitty and claimed it as their own? What if I couldn't find her? Could I find a replacement? LP1 isn't the kind of kid you can easily distract when she's focused on something. If I tried my usual "HEY! Check out that bird!" trick, she would probably only cry harder because the bird did not have Hello Kitty, either. She would be inconsolable. She LOVES Hello Kitty. One time Kitty fell out of the stroller and I accidentally ran her over, causing to to look more like Hello Blackface. LP1 kept saying "Hello Kitty is dirty" and was generally displeased with the state of her friend until one day I finally rubbed some stain remover onto her and threw her in the wash. When LP1 and Kitty were reunited it was like a scene out of a movie. "HELLO KITTY IS ALL CLEAN! MOMMY, YOU SAVED HER!" I felt like a hero.

When we got back to the car, Nosy Man Not Eating His Lunch was still watching us. I'm sure it was hard not to, as LP1 was nearly in hysterics. I took one last desperate look into the backseat...and there was Hello Kitty, jammed up against the carseat! OH THANK GOD. I grabbed her and handed Hello Kitty to LP1, who immediately calmed down and said "MOMMY! YOU FOUND HER! SHE IS SAFE!" Once again, I felt like a hero. I noticed out of the corner of my eye that Nosy Man had a huge grin and had returned to his lunch. Everyone likes a happy ending.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

New Thing #20: My Backyardigans

My lovely and talented friend N is one of the most creative thinkers I know. She writes a blog about the fun and interesting things her family gets up to down in Southern California. I stole my idea for today's New Thing from her. She built a series of tunnels around the house out of pillows and blankets for her little person and he loved it. I thought it was such a great idea and I was confident that the LP would love it. Perhaps if I had exactly followed what N did, they would have. Instead I had to divert and modify and...it did not go as planned.

See, I thought that if I made what LP1 calls a "tent" but I would call a "blanket fort" outside, I would accomplish 2 things: get the LP outside and make something they would enjoy playing in. LP1 is always asking Daddy to take a blanket, drape it over furniture and build her a tent. Which, by the way, he does quite willingly, although I question the integrity of his construction, as it is always falling down. Usually on LP1's head. If you want a secret hiding place built on your couch, my advice is not to ask Daddy (just kidding, honey, if there was a competition, you would for sure get the gold medal). I pushed aside some of the patio furniture, clothespinned an old comforter to lawn chairs, laid down another comforter on the patio and sprinkled it with toys. I had visions of many happy hours spent in our little cosy tent.

While I was in the backyard, I also thought I would dump out the water in the kiddie pool and refill it. As I meandered over to have a look in it, I saw something that made me let out a screech that could probably only be heard by bats and then run around in a circle, shaking my wrists and drawing my knees up to my chest as I ran. I'm pretty sure I looked mentally unhinged.

There was a dead bird in the pool. THERE WAS A DEAD BIRD IN THE POOL. A dead bird. In the pool. Floating in the breeze. I want to throw up in my mouth just thinking of it.

I dislike birds. I dislike many creatures, actually. But I particularly dislike dead things. And dead things floating in my children's pool? Sends me into a fit that looks as if I am running barefoot across hot coals. I immediately stopped what I was doing and ran back into the house. I had to think. If I left the bird in there and the LP saw it, would it scar them for life? Probably. It was in full rigor. They might be scared to swim in their pool again and given how much they enjoy it, I didn't want to take that away from them. Could I just keep them inside until Daddy got home? Well, yes...but it was such a nice day and the humidity had finally broken, so it seemed unfair to do that, particularly when they love being outside. I couldn't call Daddy to come home to remove it. Should I call Grandpa? No, Grandpa said he was trying to get caught up on some things at home today. If I went to the neighbour's house and knocked on the door for help, they would probably laugh at me (provided they didn't happen to be looking out their windows at the time of discovery because I'm sure I looked like a fool). Hmm.

There are moments in your life when you have to just suck it up and be the grownup, even if you don't want to. Sometimes I can avoid doing this, like when I hear a scary noise and can make Daddy go investigate. In fact, in Daddy's job description it clearly states that he is responsible for investigating scary noises, disposing of dead creatures and picking up dog poop. None of these are in mine. Unfortunately he was unavailable. So after two attempts of walking back out into the backyard, looking at the dead bird in the pool and running away, I gave myself a stern talking-to. "Self," I said, "it is time to Mom up and get rid of this thing before the LP catch on that you are running around shrieking in the backyard." I gathered all my courage, marched to the shed, got an industrial-sized dustpan and, with much shrieking and cringing, I scooped Dead Bird into the dustpan, held the dustpan as far away from myself as I could, and dumped it in the garbage can. Mercifully, today was garbage day so it wouldn't be in there for long. And don't tell me I should have buried it. YOU come over and bury it. Ugggghhhh.

This is taking too long. Once the bird was gone, I dumped out the pool, rinsed it and refilled it. When both LP were up from their naps, we headed out to play. I excitedly brought them to the "tent".

Fun time fail. LP2 liked it for a little while but LP1 was not interested in playing in here. No sir.

After trying to convince the LP to play in my painstakingly-constructed "tent", I gave up. You can't force small children to have fun. I decided to let them do whatever they wanted. At first they wanted to play together in LP1's car. They both squeezed in and took turns pretending to drive. At one point, LP1 was pushing LP2 across the lawn in it. They were both laughing and very much enjoying it.

Hey, it's good on gas!

Eventually they grew bored of that. LP1 was itching to splash in the pool and several times I had to chase her out of it. I wanted to give the water a little more time to warm up. We hit the swings up next. LP2 particularly loves the swing and has been known to fall asleep in it, while making little baby sounds of contentment the whole time. He stayed in the swing for quite awhile. LP1, on the other hand, had only one thing on her mind. The pool.

His and hers swings. The slide is for anybody.

I finally decided that the water was probably not going to cause hypothermia and declared it was time to go in the pool. The LP were more than happy to climb in, splash around and play. They probably would have stayed in there all afternoon, but it was naptime again. They reluctantly came out, lured by the promise that we could do it again tomorrow.

I will try the tunnel idea another day. So the tent New Thing didn't work. Oh well. We still managed to have fun. And really? That's all that matters.

Monday, July 25, 2011

New Thing #19: HAPPY BIRTHDAY DADDY!

And another week begins...how was your weekend? Things were as busy as ever here at Chaos Central. But a happy kind of busy, if that makes any sense. The LP had a sleepover at Grandad and Nan's house on Saturday. I know they had a wonderful time because they are still talking about it...well, LP1 is, anyway. I love how two year olds have no defined sense of time, so when they tell you something, it may have happened five minutes ago or last month. I'll be preparing her lunch and she'll just bust out with "I look at binoculars with Grandad and Nan." Yes. Yes, you did. When? Hard to say. But I bet at some point in your life you have looked through binoculars with your grandparents. In true grandparent fashion, Nan and Grandad thoroughly spoiled the LP. They had also purchased a kiddie pool and apparently both kids were thrilled to play in it - LP1 stayed in for nearly two hours! By all (highly biased) accounts, the LP behaved themselves and were very much enjoyed by Grandad and Nan. Daddy and I missed our LP but were also happy to have some time together. We did very romantic things, like grocery shop at a leisurely pace while holding a complete conversation, rather than each taking half the store and meeting in the middle, hoping we remembered everything.

On Sunday we headed over to Grammy & Grandpa's for a birthday dinner in honour of Auntie K and Daddy (their birthdays are one day apart). Everyone went for a pre-dinner swim and we couldn't stop saying that we couldn't remember the last time we were all in the pool together. We ate until we burst as we celebrated Daddy and Auntie K. The LP were so tired after two very busy days that both of them actually slept through the night.

Who knew an afternoon of swimming would thoroughly tire out the LP? Must do this more often!

Today is Daddy's birthday! Even though I know he won't be reading this today, a very happy birthday to the best husband, father and friend out there. He really does make the world a much better place and he makes the LP and I very, very happy.

For today's New Thing I decided we would make Daddy a special birthday gift. Uncle V and Auntie A had given LP1 a special kit to make a hand or footprint for her first birthday. I thought it was such a great idea and was saving it for just the perfect occasion. The problem is...I would remember it after the occasion had passed. D'OH! Yesterday I was putting something in LP1's closet when the kit literally hit me over the head. I figured this was a sign we should crack it out soon...and what better time than Daddy's birthday?

This is the kit. Whoever invented this is probably counting their money on an island somewhere tropical.

The idea behind the kit is that you use an inkpad on your child's foot or hand and then make an impression on a piece of tile. The reality is that you first must sand the tile, wipe it with vinegar, let it dry, get the perfect foot/hand print, cover it in something known as "magic powder" and then cook it in the oven until it sets. You slap a sticker on the back detailing the child's age and presto-changeo, you are done.

The reality goes kind of like this...I let LP1 decide what they were going to do. She picked footprint. I have always tried to tackle the most difficult job first in whatever I do, and I figured LP2 would be harder to print, so after I sanded and vinegared and did all the prep, I inked up his foot while he was sitting in his highchair. Four attempts later, I got a usable print (it is REALLY hard to get a squirmy baby to give a decent footprint. You come over and try. But bring your own kit). Next up was LP1. Despite instructions to NOT MOVE she decided to scamper across the kitchen floor. After I cleaned up black ink footprints, I re-inked her foot and two attempts later, had a usable print. As I was dumping the magic powder over the prints, I smudged LP2's. Sigh. I re-inked his foot and got kicked in the face because I guess it is very ticklish. Two more attempts and I had a usuable print. Then I got the bright idea to write their names and dates on each tile. Apparently you can just use a pencil eraser dipper in ink. Yeah, apparently my...foot. Forty seven attempts later, I gave up and decided that what I had was fine. You can read their names and the date. Good enough. Into the oven it went.  And then I realized I forgot to dump magic powder on the names/dates. I pulled out the tiles, dumped magic powder on them and prayed the oven wouldn't burst into flames or, if it did, that I would suddenly find myself in Diagon Alley with Harry Potter et al. The magic powder burnt on one part of each tile. I told myself it was fine and once the tiles had cooled, we wrapped them up for Daddy. I am slowly giving up my idea that I am Martha Stewart. All my crafting attempts have some kind of flaw to them. I tell myself it gives them character.

By this time LP2 was ready for a nap. All that foot-stomping is exhausting. While he was sleeping, LP1 and I baked Daddy's birthday cake together. Later on in the day when I was icing it, I had to go do something. When I came back, there was nobody in the kitchen but a big chunk of icing was missing. Must have been random elves that came in, ate some icing and left. I think they were in my parents' kitchen when I was growing up, too.

When Daddy came home from work LP1 was especially excited about the cake and to give him his gift. He was very happy with it and is in search of a place to put the tiles. I know that many years from now, Daddy and I will look at them and marvel that our children were ever that small. As the song says, these are the days to remember.

Pre-oven tiles. LP1 is on the left and has the magic powder already on heres. LP2 is on the right and awaiting the magic powder.

Friday, July 22, 2011

New Thing #18: Makin' bank & building a gazebo

Gah, what is it with Fridays (or Thursdays) and me not being able to get my act together for a New Thing? Here's a shocker for today's post...we didn't formally do anything new today. But! In my defense, it was not entirely due to my slackitude. The LP played a part in it, too...oh yeah, that's right...I'm throwing the kids under the bus on this one. Mother of the Year, right here!

Today started off early for us. LP2, for reasons known only to himself, decided to wake up at 4:30 am and stay awake. Normally he'll have a feed and go back to sleep. Not today. When it became obvious he wasn't going to settle, Daddy took over (bless his heart), and sent me back to bed. Where I went. Willingly. From that point on, everything kind of went sideways today. When one LP was awake, the other one was sleeping. This makes it difficult to attempt New Things. Unless, of course, we want to play "watch your sibling sleep and see if s/he freaks out when they wake up and see us staring at them".

We did have a brief period this afternoon when both LP were awake at the same time but we had to make hay while the sun was shining (hot enough to make you second-guess about how much deodorant was necessary, I might add), so we took care of some things on the never-ending To Do list. Most important was opening up a bank account for LP2. This is something we have been meaning to do since he was born and just never set time aside for.  Since we were going to the bank anyway, we decided it was time to crack into the LP's piggy banks and make deposits into their accounts.

The LP are not fools. At this point in time, LP1 is the ringleader in The Great Change Scam but I think it is only because she is the only one out of the two of them capable of coherent speech. And she is very good at using her words to charm money out of people. Much like her aunties before her, she has identified Grandpa as an easy mark. Poor Grandpa cannot enter our house without being hit up for "monies". LP1 is always very quick to get him to make a contribution first to her piggy bank and then over to her brother's. Usually she can con him out of whatever change is in his pockets. There have been days, however, when Grandpa has been caught without change. But does the man write an IOU or ask us if we have any change? No. He has been strong-armed into donating a bill or two into the LP banks.  I need to learn her methods. LP1 doesn't just target Grandpa, though. Like a magpie, she is attracted to shiny coins and will pounce on them wherever she sees them. I am forever finding change hidden all over the house.  Judging by the amount of money in their respective piggy banks, the Great Change Scam is bringing in lucrative profits.

Once we had tallied all of the change in both piggy banks and made notes detailing the exact amount of coins and bills in each, we headed over to the bank. Daddy and LP1 went to deposit her riches into her account while LP2 and I sat down to open an account. Did you know that if you are bringing change into the bank you are supposed to roll it? Well, we didn't. Fortunately, everyone we dealt with today was very helpful and overlooked our egregious faux pas. I'm sure they have put a note on our permanent record and if we attempt to bring unrolled change in again, they will kick us out.

We thought everything had gone well at the bank and that maybe it was a good way to introduce the LP to saving money until we were in the car, headed to our next destination. LP1 had a meltdown over the fact that she had lost her "monies" and left them in the bank. We tried to explain that the bank was keeping her money safe but I think the point was lost. She soon fell asleep. And dreamed of becoming a bank robber.

The rest of the afternoon was spent running errands. LP1 had a very long nap once we came home and when she awoke, it was nearly time for dinner. Both kids had a splash in their little pool before dinner and, if the world was just and not totally unfair, would have stayed there for a very long time. But as we are terrible parents, we wanted them to have dinner. They got out of the pool with little complaint (I think hunger won out over the desire to be merpeople).

And just because it has been that kind of a day, we further threw the usual routine into chaos by heading out again after dinner. Last summer we purchased a gazebo for our backyard. It didn't cost very much but provided much-needed shade in our Gobi-like yard. We were very fond of it. So fond of it, in fact, that on the first nice day we had this spring, I made Daddy set it up again. We were looking forward to another summer of usage...until it flew into the air during a major windstorm and was impaled on our weathervane. O, cruel fate! It was a sad, sad day in our house; it was like we had lost a dear friend. Since then, we have dithered back and forth about replacing it. Truth be told, it was cheap and obviously not built to last. At first we thought we could make it through the summer without it, but we have come to realize that we really do need shade back there. I tend to limit the amount of time we spend outside because it gets too hot and sunny for the LP and this really isn't fair to them. And while we have big plans and dreams for our backyard, they obviously aren't going to happen this summer. Year-long maternity leaves are a wonderful blessing in Canada but they certainly do not pay as well as actually working. After much discussion about What To Do, Daddy saw that the same gazebo was on sale again this week. While some may say it was foolish to purchase the same model again, we say that we need something to get us through this summer and it was in our price range. Our after-dinner jaunt was to the last store in our area that sold Cheaply Made Not Built To Last Gazebo. Daddy and I raced the last daylight after the LP were in bed to get it set up. I think they will be happy to see it out there tomorrow.

Once again, I am writing about a day that didn't go as planned. But it was also a day that saw us cracking up at the kids' antics, doing things together and, ultimately, doing something that will benefit us all. I don't think it was a total waste. I will, however, keep striving to make sure we are actually Doing Something New on Fridays.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

New Thing #17: EGGAGEDDON!

Today was live-in-a-volcano hot. I know that lately I've been commenting on how hot it is, but seriously...we broke some records today with the heat. Don't get me wrong; I love a hot day. But when you have Little People you have to be very careful with the heat. This generally means hiding indoors and thinking up ways to have fun without breaking a sweat.

Welcome to the volcano...at 3:30 pm it was nearly 40 degrees Celsius but with the awful Southern Ontario humidity, apparently it was actually closer to 49 degrees. Don't ask me how that works. I didn't go to school for meteorology.

We were uncertain about what, exactly, to do today. We wanted to limit any outdoor time, so even splashing in the kiddie pool was out. We didn't really feel like packing everyone up to go somewhere. Today was another day where we just let the day take us where it may. Daddy broke a guitar string so he took LP1 with him to the music store to buy replacement strings. Letting Daddy loose in a music store falls into the DANGER! DANGER! category, so I coached LP1 on some things to say to him while they were out...these phrases might have included things like, "Daddy! Focus! Only buy strings!" and running through a list of things Daddy was NOT allowed to buy. The coaching was successful because they only came home with a new packet of strings and stories about the fun they had playing in the music store together. Unsurprisingly, LP1 wanted to take the drums for a spin. Good thing they don't mind when you do that there.

While Daddy and LP1 were making music and buying strings, LP2 and I chilled together. We played with some of the animals from his farm set and read a few books. I spent most of the time doing silly things to make him laugh because there is nothing better than hearing him giggle. I think both LP liked the one-on-one time together.

I kept hearing how hot it was outside today and frankly, it was getting irritating. Surely there was something else happening in the world today that was more worth of reporting. There are only so many stupid weather-related metaphors you can hear before you crack. Daddy and I decided to test just how hot it was outside and this is how the New Thing for today was hatched...we decided that today we would crack an egg on the sidewalk to see if it would actually cook.

We gave the LP a liberal dousing of sunscreen and headed outside. After determining that the driveway felt hotter than the sidewalk, we decided to crack the egg on the driveway. I had explained that we were being scientists today and LP1 thought that being a scientist sounded cool. We went over what we were trying to do. I don't know how much of it she understood but I do know that both kids thought cracking an egg on the driveway was definitely one of the more interesting things we've done lately.

The rigorously scientific experiment begins!

We cracked the egg (note to self: on a downward-sloping driveway, an egg tends to slide. Have a lifter handy. Call this "Runaway Egg Syndrome" to sound more science-like) and watched with interest. Nothing happened. We waited for a few more minutes. The egg...looked like an egg. LP1 really wanted to poke the yolk but we restrained her. As the four of us stood there, looking at an egg on our driveway, we realized we were melting. It was time to retreat to the air conditioning before anyone got too hot. We abandoned science in favour of watermelon and cold drinks.

I do go check on the egg at around the twenty minute mark. It was definitely getting sticky but it certainly didn't look fried.

Add some hashbrowns and toast and dinner is served!

I took LP2 out with me about an hour later to check on the egg again. It was definitely looking more cooked but I don't know if that was because it was incredibly hot and the sun was just drying it out or if it was actually starting to cook. I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I'm not REALLY a scientist. I just pretend to be one to do fun things with our kids.

As today is Thursday, we had swimming lessons. And unfortunately, in the rush to get there on time, we had a bit of a tragedy. Our experiment was flattened. We may never definitively know if it was, in fact, hot enough to fry an egg on the driveway. What we do know is that we tried something very new and different with the LP. Were they too young to really grasp what was going on? Likely. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try these things every now and then. Children are little sponges...you never know what they will absorb and take in. Spending 10 minutes outside together, watching an egg on the driveway may seem silly. It IS silly. But maybe it will spawn a new curiosity and desire to learn. We read to them every day, even though I'm pretty sure that at this age, most of it sails over LP2's head. I wasn't sure how much LP1 was even taking in until one day, when she was about 20 months old, I realized she knew all the letters of the alphabet because there was this one alphabet book she insisted we read together every night for about 2 months. Our philosophy with them is to try. If something works, hurray. If it fails? Well, at least we had fun.

Well...it was hot enough & the car was heavy enough for scrambled eggs!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

New Thing #16: A free lunch & some splashing around

We started off today without a clear plan of what we were doing. Sometimes I think it is just fun to go where the day takes you.

Grammy had asked us if we could go over to their house to let the dog out today because she would be late getting home from work and Grandpa is out of town. Daddy dropped the LP and I off so we could make sure that doggie wasn't crossing her legs and pacing to go out while he went to run some errands. I forgot what happens when Daddy runs errands by himself...he never comes home with just the things he was sent out for...but more on that later.

I think there must be a Grandparent Handbook. And on page 1 of that book it states, "always keep your cupboards and fridge full of things your grandchildren and their parents like. If you have good food, they will keep bringing the grandchildren over." Both Grammy and Grandpa and Nan and Grandad always know just what to have on hand. Today was no exception. We helped ourselves to lunch and some snacks. I think if you ever leave a grandparent's house hungry, it is your own fault.

Who let the dog out? Woof, woof, woof... (sorry, couldn't resist. I didn't just beat the dog, she was looking intently at LP1 because LP1 was holding a cookie)

After demolishing the supply of delicious treats in the house, LP1 drew some pictograms for Grammy on post-it notes. I provided translation on some. Daddy came back, and as we were getting into the car I noticed he had picked up a few extra things while being out unsupervised.

"In A People House" is another book we read together. This is LP1's impression of it, I guess.

While he was out and about today Daddy picked up a hard plastic kiddie pool for the LP! When I said he never comes home with just the things he was sent out for, you probably thought that this was a bad thing. Not always! 

The LP fell asleep on the way home, so while they were sleeping Daddy set up the pool and filled it up. As it was bone meltingly hot outside, it didn't take long for the water to warm up. Once the LP were both up from their naps we stripped them down and brought them in the backyard. They were excited to see the pool, although a little hesitant to get in at first. Once they got in they didn't want to sit down right away. I have no idea why this was. The air was practically solid, it was so hot. The water was cool but not cold. Children are weird.

It didn't take long before both kids were comfortable and then...SPLASH TIME! It started with LP2 gently splashing the water with his hand. Splash, splash...pause...big baby laugh. Once he realized it was fun, he started splashing with both hands. LP1 joined in and it wasn't long before Daddy and I were soaked.  The kids were thoroughly enjoying splashing each other, the grass and us. We just couldn't help but laugh with them. The new pool was a perfect idea on Daddy's part. I love how the little things make the LP so very happy. I think they could have sat there all afternoon, splashing and kicking and playing.

When you are very little the world most look positively enormous. I think one reason why the LP love their little pool is that it is just their size. Finally they have a place to swim and play where they can sit down or stand up and hold onto the edge all by themselves. The water isn't going to completely surround them. I think it makes them feel independent. Or maybe I'm totally wrong and they just think the world's gone crazy and the bathtub is now in the backyard.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

New Thing #15: Family time al fresco

I am so glad Daddy decided to take this week off of work. I really wish I could give him a fabulous vacation somewhere to show him how much we appreciate all that he does for us and how hard he works, but it just isn't in the cards for us this year. Maybe next year. For now, his staycation will have to do.

Having him home has been fantastic. It is so nice to have the entire day together as a family instead of a few hours at night. I suppose you could make the argument that because he works all the time we appreciate when he's not working, but if we won the lottery and were able to do this more often I certainly wouldn't complain.

This morning Daddy was working on some new music. When LP2 awoke from his nap we had an impromptu family dance party in the basement. Daddy played us what he had been working on and alternated between dancing with the LP and singing for us. At one point I was spinning around and dancing while holding both LP. I am either very out of shape or it was a great workout (maybe a little of both)! At the end we were all a little breathless but definitely happy. LP1 was kickin' it on our makeshift dancefloor, taking her turn on the mic and leaping about. LP2 danced with us and bounced on the couch. I love these little family moments. I also love seeing how much the LP respond to music. I think that like Daddy, it is in their souls. We've got a family band in the making one day.

In continuing with our family theme today, we headed over to see Auntie S, Uncle J and cousins B and C. We haven't had a chance to see them in what feels like forever due to a whole bunch of reasons, so it was really nice to find some time today to hang with them. Cousins B and C were as excited to see the LP as the LP were to see them. The cousins are now 4 and 5 years old and fully-fledged "big kids". The LP really look up to them and enjoy being with them, especially because their cousins are so good to them. I have a feeling all four of them are going to cause Auntie S, Uncle J, Daddy and myself some grey hairs when they are older.

After a delicious lunch on the patio we all changed into our swimsuits and hit the pool. Auntie S and Uncle J have a large in-ground pool in the backyard. As it was once again hotter than the Sahara out, the water was a welcome reprieve from the heat.
Last one in is...the last one to cool off!

It was so nice to spend an afternoon in the water. The cousins wore Daddy out, jumping and splashing and playing games together. LP2 was happy to splash around with me and his auntie. LP1 didn't want to come out. She played with Daddy, with her auntie and uncle and especially with cousin C. We were all having a great time goofing around, chatting and joking with one another. This was the first time all four of us went swimming in Auntie S and Uncle J's pool together and to make a bad pun...it went swimmingly.

What is better than stretching out in a chair poolside? Having Auntie S bring you a cold beverage to enjoy while you are doing it!

LP2 eventually had enough and was ready for a bit of a catnap. LP1, on the other hand, absolutely did not want to get out of the water. I had to bribe her with one of LP2's baby cookies to get her to come out so we could go home. I know both of them could have stayed all day but the nice thing about visiting family is that you can always come back! 

We headed home with wet hair and happy hearts, thoroughly tired after our day in the sun.




Monday, July 18, 2011

New Thing #14: Puddicombe Farms

Hello, hello. It would appear that once again, a Monday just sneaked right up and got here all too soon! I hope your weekend was spectacular. Daddy and I had an incredible weekend away. I don't remember the last time just the two of us went away anywhere. We were honoured to celebrate the wedding of our friend up north. We also missed our LP very much and were so happy to see them when we returned early Sunday afternoon.

Daddy is actually taking a week's vacation from work this week (gasp! shock! surprise!) so he will be joining us on some (if not all) of our adventures. It has only been Day 1 of having him home and I know that both the LP and I  couldn't be happier. Spending time together during the week is a luxury.

Today Daddy and I decided to take the LP to Puddicombe Estate Farm & Winery. This is a very old family-run farm/winery not too far from us. They have seasonal fruits, home-baked desserts, foods and treats, and a kids' centre, complete with animals, a play area and a train that drives around the grounds. We took LP1 there last summer and again in the fall to pick our pumpkins for Hallowe'en. We thought it would be worth a visit today.
The big barn. They have this old-school train car you can stay in for a night & they give you fresh food in the morning so you can cook your own breakfast, surrounded by the vineyards, a pond and with a view of the escarpment. If it wasn't so close, I would totally stay there.

Today was another melt-the-soles-of-your-shoes kind of day. We didn't realize it was 35 degrees Celsius (without the humidex factored in) until later on, when we were headed home. In retrospect, perhaps it was too hot to go traipsing about, looking at animals. The things they don't teach you in How To Parent 101...

As we were there on a very hot Monday afternoon, there were very few people there. In fact, there was nobody in the animal area. We  strolled over to meet the emu. It clawed the ground with scary prehensile toes and looked as if it was trying to decide which LP to eat first. Then it dropped an enormous poop on the ground. Charming.

Next up were the pigs. They seemed very happy to see us and came running over to the edge of the fence, noses (snouts?) poking out. As Daddy reached down to pet the pigs, LP2 began to cry the cry of the very upset. It seems that LP2 is not a fan of pigs. As we walked away, one of the pigs leaned forward and began to pee. Do you know how long a pig can pee for? A very long time. Wonderful.

We went to say hello to the peacocks. Peacocks have the most annoying screech ever. Daddy is really good at imitating them. As the peacocks strutted about, dragging their tails behind them, LP1 announced that SHE DIDN'T WANT TO SEE THE PEACOCKS so we got away from them before we had the opportunity to observe any peacock bodily functions. How unfortunate.

For some unknown reason, the goats, a few chickens and a sheep were all together. The goats had these walkways and gangplanks to trippity-trop up and down. Most of them were sitting and resting. I can't blame them. Both LP liked the goats.

This goat looks very pleased with himself. I shall call him Mister Smuggles.

After watching the goats long enough to determine that they weren't going to suddenly break into song or dance, we moved on to the ducks. There were roughly eighty four billion of them and they all rushed to the edge of the fence. I think you were supposed to offer them food. We had nothing to offer other than the observation that they looked like our other duck friend, Peepers.

It was at this point that the LP grew weary of seeing animals. We checked out the play area for a little while. LP1 had fun swinging, climbing and playing on the various toys. LP2 enjoyed swinging in a baby swing and hanging from the monkey bars (with a little help from Daddy). After a difference of opinion with LP1 over leaving the play area that made me glad nobody else was there to witness "Angry Two Year Old: A Screaming Symphony", we compromised but soon left. We were all too hot, too thirsty and too ready to get back in the car.

I think the LP enjoyed their New Thing today. LP1 was discussing all the different animals she saw today throughout dinner. I know they are still very young but I am looking forward to making Puddicombe Farms a regular part of their childhood. I have visions of picking cherries and peaches together, train and wagon rides, and pumpkin-choosing expeditions each fall. Hey, family traditions have to start somewhere, right?
I guess the water in the duck pool starts out clean but then the ducks track in mud and soon the pool is dirty. Someone should get them a mat for their wee webbed feet.


Friday, July 15, 2011

*NO NEW THING FOR FRIDAY, CATCH YOU ON MONDAY!*

As I mentioned in my last post, Daddy and I are heading out of town early Friday morning to attend the wedding of a dear friend. I think this will be our longest time away from the LP and while I will miss them very much, I am also looking forward to this wedding. I won't have time to do anything with them before we go on Friday. I'm sure they will have many adventures and lots of fun in our absence.

Have a wonderful weekend and hopefully Monday will bring us back on track again!

New Thing #13: Actually, no New Thing :(

I am a little sad to report that today we did not manage to do our One New Thing. I alternate between being disappointed in myself and giving a mental shrug, saying "meh, it happens."

Daddy and I are leaving Friday morning to attend an out-of-town wedding. The LP are not coming with us; instead, Auntie J, Grammy, Auntie K and Uncle L will be taking care of them this weekend. I know our LP will be in excellent hands but I wanted to make sure everything was organized and that the house was in order. Yes, I know family doesn't care what your house looks like, but it just makes me feel better knowing that there are fresh linens and towels, food in the fridge, and all the laundry is caught up. Today was spent cleaning, catching up on the laundry and grocery shopping.

I know that the whole point of a challenge is just that: to test oneself, to see if you are capable of doing something. The challenge is in the striving. Or maybe that is just what I'm telling myself so I won't feel so bad. And maybe this will just come across as being defensive but I think that sometimes I just have to roll with how the day unfolds and today, it just didn't happen. Although we didn't do anything new, it is not like I left the LP in a room all by themselves, either. They were right there with me, "helping". LP2 chased the vacuum cleaner along the floor, fascinated by how it worked (thankfully there was no rebellion today). LP1 was really good about picking up her toys and making observations about what I was doing. They came grocery shopping and while they did try to eat almost everything that went into the cart, I think they also enjoyed it. LP1 was giving me suggestions about what we needed to buy. They napped well today, too. It was a busy day for them.

As today is Thursday, we also had swimming lessons tonight. Once again, it was a great opportunity to spend time together as a family. Tonight I got to see how confident LP1 has become in the water. She jumps in and goes all the way under now. It is amazing to see the changes in her in such a short time. Tonight I learned that although he may be hesitant at first, LP2 is willing to try new things because he has such trust in us. He went under the water. He practiced floating on both his stomach and his back, even though his first instinct was to cuddle close, because we encouraged him and let him know we wouldn't let him sink. I also learned that he does not like being thrown in the air. I was playing with him and I saw the fear in his eyes when I was holding him up above my head. He is such an adventurous and happy little soul that I forget sometimes that he is still very little and things scare him.

So...maybe the One New Thing today was actually a few realizations on my part. The LP are happy when we do things together, even if these things are just boring old housework. They like being the focus of my attention but they are also capable of doing things on their own, too. And I think that perhaps the most important realization I had today is that if we let them know that we believe in them and that we feel they can do something, it gives them the confidence to try.

But the mother guilt never ends...so I think I need to plan something big for us to do on Monday!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

New Thing #12: When one door closes, a jungle opens...

I guess when you make plans to go somewhere it is probably helpful to find out when that place closes. This is probably something well-organized people do. I am not a well-organized person these days.

Daddy and I had discussed giving one of the Ontario Early Years Centres a try. These are free spaces, run by the government, for children up to the age of 6. They host workshops, run activities and provide a place for kids to play. I have been very hesitant about going to one up until now. There is no reason I can give without coming across as either a total snob or generally anti-social and since I'm not interested in alienating anyone who might be reading this, we'll just say I've never taken the LP there before. But as Daddy and I were discussing yesterday's Storytime last night, we came to the conclusion that it would probably be beneficial for both LP, but LP1 in particular, to socialize more with other kids. And Daddy also gently pointed out that it might just be beneficial for me to find a fellow Mommy friend, too.

So after researching the local Early Years Centres, we headed out for the closest one this morning. It was not easy to find. The LP and I were traipsing hither and yon in search of the elusive location. I finally had to admit directional defeat and we stopped in at a church office for help (I figured anyone who worked in a church office was predisposed to be helpful and I was proven correct). We were soon sent on our way. We entered the centre. LP1 was immediately excited to see toys in the hallway and shelves lined with books. I was just about to take the LP out of the stroller when the lady in charge advised us that this particular centre is only open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays until 11:30 am. As it was now 11:27 am, they were preparing to close. Sigh. She directed us to another centre, open later, that was hosting a BBQ today. Once we had returned to the car, we headed out to that one...but LP1 fell asleep en route. I turned around and headed home. We'll have to try another day. Operation Mommy Friend will also have to wait.

Once again, I was left without a plan. What to do, what to do? Fortunately after naptime my magic genie appeared in the form of Auntie K. She suggested we head over to the nearby indoor playground for some fun. Done and done. We loaded the kids up and went to Jungle Hut.

Jungle Hut is an indoor playground with everything from rocking horses to giant slides that deposit one into an enclosed space filled with soft plastic balls. It is lined with soft mats and everything is covered in brightly coloured gymnastic mats to prevent injury. It was a perfect place to take the LP. As we arrived, we were informed that they would be closing in an hour (note to self: start looking into operating hours of places). One hour would probably be just the right amount of time for the LP.

The rules of the jungle. We forgot socks but the guy behind the counter was too worried about his internet problems to care.

LP1 had been to Jungle Hut a very long time ago but like many things we do, this is the first time both LP could participate in something together. There was something there for every age group, so I knew both LP would have fun. 

LP1's favourite: the giant slide that ended in the ball pit. LP2 later came to play in the ball pit and also found it great fun.

Having Auntie K with us was great because we could play divide and conquer. Auntie K chased LP1 around, made sure she was safe on the slides and kept an eye on where she was disappearing to in the midst of all the netting, tunnels and obstacles. I stayed with LP2 as he crawled through the caterpillar tunnel, rocked on the elephant rocking horse and played in the area that was more at baby-height.

LP2's favourite: the smaller-sized area. He surprised me by climbing up the steps on the left side ALL BY HIMSELF! LP1 was digging the balance beam & small purple slide.

When we first arrived, there was a father with several children there but none of the kids were close in age to the LP. They soon left. No fellow-child socialization and no potential Mommy friend there. Oh well. Another mom and her young son arrived. Unfortunately he was too young for LP1 and too old for LP2. Eventually the mother and I struck up a conversation. She was very nice. She was also from out of town. Foiled again!

The one-hour-before-closing went by fast. I have a sneaking suspicion Angry About the Internet Man was closing up shop early. LP1 didn't want to go and Auntie K got to experience the joy of Refuse to Leave pose. A trip back to the pet store soon soothed the hurt of leaving a fun time too soon.

We'll try the Early Years Centre next week, maybe. And maybe I'll keep an eye out for the elusive potential Mommy friend...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

New Thing #10: Storytime? No, we're good, thanks.

I don't know what LP2 has against Tuesdays. Once again, he decided that napping wasn't on his agenda for today. I hope it comes back on the agenda again tomorrow. It was there yesterday. I kind of need it there every day right now.

The upside to the no-morning nap is that we were able to go to Family Storytime at the library today! I thought it might take several attempts before we were able to add this as our One New Thing, so colour me surprised that it happened today. I got everyone ready in record time and we made it to the library just as it was starting. As it was just slightly less than melt-your-face-off hot out today, we elected to drive rather than walk over.

Family Storytime is apparently THE place to be in our little corner of suburbia. There were easily 30 small children there. We were able to squeeze in up front on the magic carpet. I know from our previous experiences that LP1 would have preferred to be in the back where the child-sized chairs were as she is not a big fan of sitting on the carpet, but alas, all the lazy parents/caregivers/random attendees were using them. Thanks. FOR SITTING ON THE CHAIRS CLEARLY DESIGNATED FOR SMALL CHILDREN. I wasn't sure what LP2 preferred. I think as long as he was with me, he would be happy.
   Standing room only...unless you are one of these inconsiderate people and take chairs away from little children

As I've stated previously, I wasn't so impressed with our previous Storytime experience. After today, however, I've come to realize that it is all about the Storytime Lady. Our previous Storytime Lady was a very nice lady. She was quiet and clearly craved order. A sort of well-behaved, gentle sort. This Storytime Lady, on the other hand, was something else. She had a big, booming I-am-in-musical-theatre kind of voice that immediately captivated her audience. She had songs and clapping and puppets and big gestures...I was half expecting to see her bust out some JAZZ HANDS with a big dance number. She went from song to nursery rhyme to story and back to song again. Storytime Lady gave it everything she had. And she had the attention of every kid in the place.

Except for one.

While LP2 thought this singing lady with the puppets was worth watching and was enjoying being bounced on my lap, LP1 quickly decided that this was not for her today. She played along for awhile...but I could see her start to assess her options. LP1 doesn't like it when there are too many kids in one area or when she is just thrust into chaos. Had we come earlier, sat in the back and been able to watch the other kids arrive, I think she might have enjoyed it more. But because we came late and she was suddenly surrounded by so many kids and parents and this wild singing lady, she wanted out. And because she is who she is, she devised a most creative way to make that happen.

It started innocently enough. LP1 casually moved away from us and went to sit on the edge of the carpet, next to some other kids. This is how she tricked me. I thought she was finally warming up to the idea of sitting on the carpet and was trying to make some friends, so I let her go. Then she moved again, this time to a more centre-of-carpet location. I thought she was angling for a better view of Storytime Lady. She then oh-so-casually moved over again. It was at this point that I caught on to her. LP1 was sloooowly moving herself across the carpet because the children's section was on the other side of the room. And as she knew, the train table was in the children's section.

By the time I scooped up LP2 and tiptoed around everyone, LP1 was already at the table, pushing the trains along the track. LP2 and I stood beside the table but watched Storytime Lady for a while because he really was enjoying it but it became too difficult to sing along while trying to keep a watchful eye on LP1. I soon set LP2 down to play with the trains, too. He didn't mind. Trains are also really fun. LP1 enjoyed having an entirely deserted area to herself. She checked out all the toys. She looked for some of her favourite books. She made it clear that she had no intentions of returning to Storytime. LP2 would have happily returned but as I haven't yet figured out how to divide myself in two, he settled for playing with toys, too. I was about to settle in with him to read a book when Storytime ended and we were suddenly surrounded by 30 children, all eager to find a book or play with the toys. It was chaos.
Toys are more fun when you don't have to wait to play with them!

I tried several times to get LP1 to go over to the Summer Book Club so we could report about our books but she was not interested at first. I thought we might get a prize today. It wasn't until after Storytime Lady gave out stickers (which LP1 was happy to receive and then later give to LP2) that we were able to go check in. I only reported on two books for each of the LP because I think they are only required to read 12 books for the summer and I think it will be more fun if we try to stretch it out. Sadly, there was no prize today. Foiled again! If we report in next week, we will be eligible for a prize. As we had somewhere else we needed to be, it was time to go. LP1 did the classic refuse-to-go pose, whereby her legs were suddenly incapable of supporting her and she attempted to throw herself to the ground while I struggled to hold her hand and keep her upright. Such poses invariably make it look as if you are somehow force-dragging your child because you are The Worst Parent Ever and usually earn a disapproving stare from certain other parents. Particularly when your child is screaming. LP2 watched this unfold in utter delight. He enjoys watching his sister make a big scene.

We made it out of the library and on to our next errand. I found the other free ice cream coupon from our last trip to the library and asked LP1 if she was interested in some ice cream. As it turns out, she was. LP2 was starting to nod off in his car seat. And he doesn't really eat ice cream yet. I wasn't ignoring him, in case you thought I was being rude.

We'll try Storytime again next week. I know at least one LP will enjoy returning!
Maybe next week we'll even test out the carpet...or perhaps the chairs will get to be used by the people they are intended for...SMALL CHILDREN.

                  

Monday, July 11, 2011

New Thing #9: Kitchens and Bathrooms

Happy Monday! How was your weekend? I wasn't too sure how our weekend would go, given that Daddy was in the Land o' Frozen Peas and Pain, but once again, he proved that there is a giant "S" on his chest and was SuperDaddy. We had a great weekend with the LP...a trip to the carwash (always an LP favourite activity, especially when we splurge and get the package with the multi-colour foam), a long drive and some delicious local ice cream made for a perfect Saturday. We did one last watering at Grandad and Nan's house as a family and replaced a few plants that mysteriously died...surely not because we totally forgot to water them. If you never want to be asked to take care of someone's plants again, the best thing to do is to let the scorching hot sun bake them to the consistency of hay.

I am not a meteorologist and nor do I play one on TV, but I think it was roughly the same temperature as the surface of the sun outside today. There was no way I was taking the LP out to play on a day like this. I needed to catch up on a few duties domestica anyway, so that made today an LP Rebellion Day. Much like how prison inmates plan a riot or breakout when the guards are distracted, so too do the LP plan mayhem when there is cleaning happening. I am certain that the second they see the vacuum cleaner appear, they give each other a pre-arranged signal that It Is Time. I've tried saving any cleaning for naptime. Somehow these two can sleep through Daddy's band practicing in the house but the second the vacuum cleaner is plugged in, they are awake. Today's rebellion was especially stellar...an entire bottle of hand sanitizer dumped onto the bed in the guest room, a drawer pulled out of the nightstand, all the play food in the kitchen centre dumped onto the floor, the newspaper shredded and, my personal favourite, the air conditioner adjusted to 30 degrees Celsius. I was trying to figure out why the house felt so hot when I knew the air was on...oh, it was on all right. It was just set to "fry".

A detente was needed and needed quickly. In order to appease the rebels, I offered a Dance Party of Peace. We put on a CD of children's songs and danced around the kitchen together. LP2 was soon giggling (and there is nothing like baby laughs to make you laugh, too) and kicking his feet. LP1 was dancing around in circles and shouting at the top of her lungs. The whole time the three of us were dancing together I was thinking "why haven't we done this before?" We truly had so much fun. The CD itself leaves a little something to be desired, though...Auntie J brought it back with her when she returned from Korea. There are something like 25 songs on it, designed for ESL students. It turns out that songs for ESL students are great for babies and toddlers...but not their parents. The LP like it because they are simple songs, each song is repeated twice and the music is upbeat. I don't like it because the words to some of the songs are seriously wrong. For example, the second verse of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" goes something like "Cut, cut, cut with scissors". WHAT? I don't think so. I won't even go into how the third verse talks about making a ball of dough out of glue. There are some children in Korea walking around singing very wrong lyrics to popular songs.
                                  Don't even get me started on what they did to                                                      "Do You Know the Muffin Man?"

We Hokey-Pokey'ed our way through the CD and I kept it on throughout their dinner, too. In order to assure a deep and lasting peace, I thought one more New Thing would help. Normally after dinner each LP is bathed separately. Each bath is usually quick as we rush to get jammies on and ready for bed. I'm pretty sure they wouldn't mind lingering longer in the tub. I decided that tonight I wouldn't worry about the time or what we had to do next. Bathtime was moved up a bit and both kids had a bath together for the first time in a long while. Now that LP2 can sit up on his own it is much easier to have them in the tub together. But this wasn't going to be your garden variety bath...
                  This was a super-duper-chock full of bubbles BUBBLE BATH!

I don't think I've ever put so many bubbles in the bath before! The LP were delighted. It wasn't long before we were making bubble hats, bubble beards and bubble mustaches. They were splashing each other, attempting to eat the bubbles and covering their toys in them. There were so many bubbles that they out-lasted the kids! I let them stay in the bath for as long as they wanted. LP2 eventually came closer to the side and lifted his arms as a sign that he was done. Once he was out and wrapped in his towel, LP1 decided that she, too, was ready.
                             Even Henry the Duck enjoyed Bubblemania

If there is just one thing the LP are really teaching me to appreciate, it is how fun the simple things can be sometimes.