Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Party Thrills and Dressing Skills

On November 13th, Aidas turned 3 years old. Noah and B. were lucky enough to be invited to the celebration, along with other friends and family of Aidas. It was great that Aldona, Aidas's mom, was able to have the party on Aidas's actual birthday. It made it even more special.

Noah and I were the last ones to arrive. (There were a couple of well-timed meltdowns just before we left our place, to slow us down.) We knew we had been holding up the party because as soon as we got there, Aidas turned to his mother and said "Now can I open presents?" She gave him the green light. His friends were happy to help him uncover his treasure! I think this S.O.S. Station Aidas received was by far his favourite. Noah has recently been talking about asking Santa for the same one for Christmas. 

We all enjoyed pizza. The adults also enjoyed a delicious salad Aldona had made. Then it was back to opening presents! Noah and I gave Aidas a Star Wars shirt, and a few Star Wars toys. (He seems to be enchanted by what little he has seen of Star Wars.) Then it was time for Diane's (Nana's) chocolate cupcakes! Here's the beautiful boy being sung to on his 3rd birthday. Happy birthday, sweet Aidas! 

Although some days have been quite mild (considering it's November, and this is Toronto), some days have been very chilly. We are officially into snowsuit season now. The kids and I have been working really hard on dressing skills (except for Oscar, of course). Now that the 3 older boys are more or less toilet trained, I expect them to at least take part in putting on and taking off: underwear, pants, snow pants, coats, and boots. They are all able to do about 80% completely on their own, with verbal instruction and encouragement. The things that sometimes hold us back have nothing to do with ability. They are more like: refusal to cooperate, fear of failing, or wanting to remain in the 'comfort zone' of having me do all this for them. While these are all completely normal responses for 3-year-olds (B. is almost 3) experiencing such a large change in their routine, I am remaining consistent in my expectations. These expectations are not that they should succeed in doing all, (or any, for that matter) of these parts of dressing on their own, but that they should at least try. So, for example, pulling their pants up to their waists is difficult for them. Still, they are expected to hold onto the pants with me (or hand-over-hand), so that they can at least get the feel, or the idea of how to accomplish this in the future. They really are doing amazing with all of this, and are happy and proud to receive stickers each day for their hard work.

As with last November, we again have an issue to battle: dog poop. It seems that starting in November, people feel they no longer need to clean-up after their pets. I have to admit that, without a yard of my own, this makes my job quite a bit more stressful. Thankfully, the 3 veterans are older and wiser. They now (usually) point out the dog poop rather than playing with it. They also understand that we can no longer play in certain areas because of this. So far, we have been pretty lucky, with only a few mishaps. Look at how happy baby Oscar is frolicking in the grass and leaves (in the video below). Thank goodness there was no dog poop here on this day!

Actually, there was a quite a bit of rolling around that day by all the kids. They were like pigs in mud. And on this occasion, Noah and Oscar were both furious with me for eventually bringing them back inside for lunch. But we like to share a bit of our drama with the neighbourhood on a daily basis. It makes us memorable. :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Santa Claus Parade

On Sunday Dan and I took Noah to his first parade: the Santa Claus Parade! We were accompanied by his daycare friend B., his mother and her friend.

The parade was to start at 12:30, and we arrived at 11am, hoping to find a front row seat. Well...this is what we got! I had read a bit online about how early one needs to get there in order to get a perfect view. One of the sites I visited said that some people arrive as early as 9am to put out chairs. As we walked east along Bloor from Christie, it became clear that this was the norm. The streets were already completely packed!

Next year we'll be smarter! Actually, where we were (between Bathurst and Spadina), there was a Tim Hortons right across the street. A good idea would be to get there early, claim your territory, then sit inside Timmy's and enjoy some coffee and a book while keeping your eye on your spot. Have your friends and/or family join you with the kids closer to starting time, because we all know how good young children are at waiting! 

Despite our vantage point, Noah didn't miss out at all. It just meant we had to hold him or put him up on our shoulders. B's mom had the genius idea of having B. stand in the stroller. We were very thankful for this less tiring approach. Noah could see the parade and our arms and shoulders could take a break!

The Muppets float was Noah's favourite. He has been watching his beloved Muppets videos for some time now, and is very excited to see the new movie in theatres soon. The float on the bottom right impressed Dan and I the most. Although the picture doesn't really do it justice, we felt it was the most eye catching of them all.

Here are a few more of my favourite parts...

Finally, we got to see Santa Claus. Noah was a bit confused about the process of speaking to Santa. I asked him if he was going to ask Santa for a fire truck (since this seems to be his current present-of-choice). As he watched Santa go by, he said with a perplexed look, "But Santa's gone". I reassured him that he would meet Santa again in Dufferin Mall in a few weeks.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pots + Pans + Kids Make a Band!

The kids rediscovered the joy of pots and pans this week.....ummm....and my boot, apparently. Actually, you may notice the shoes scattered about in the background. This is a battle I choose not to have with the kids. They love to play in the closet. (B. demonstrates this for you in the video.) The shoes get completely disorganized as Dan, my husband, can attest to when trying to find two matching shoes in the morning before leaving for work! A little spillage is only natural.

Oscar, the newest and youngest member (at 10 months), loved playing in the band too. Rock on!

We played in the leaves at High Park one day. I was hoping the leaves would still be carpeting the ground, and that we could rake them into our own piles. Alas, High Park is really good at cleaning these leaves up, and they were all concentrated in a few giant mountains. I don't think the kids minded.

Nope, I don't think they minded at all! Lucas and Maya came with Marlaine to join in the fun.

The kids used the little rakes we brought, even though they were completely unnecessary. I had to watch them closely, since sticks of any kind can easily turn into weapons, whether intentional or not!

Oscar arrived one day this week in this tough-boy outfit. You can see the over-sized hat, but what you may miss is the biker vest. Embroidered on the back is a snake coiled around a tiger. No doubt he was trying to send the older boys a message: Don't be fooled by my size. I may be small, but I am mighty! I'm pretty sure he was also wearing either his "Kiss" or his "ACDC" onesie underneath. I think the big boys got the message (although the pacifier didn't help his case).

Noah and B. worked hard one morning, putting all the upper case ABC's in order. They discovered which letter was next by singing the alphabet song. Noah loves the alphabet and knows all his letters, but I was pleasantly surprised to see how much B. knew, considering that English is his second language. 

When we finished with the capitals, we put all the lower case letters in their appropriate spots, underneath. They were both completely focused on this activity, and it wasn't a quick one! Noah begged to do it again, but it was time for snack.

Marlaine organized one last going away party, for the kids. She treated us all to a morning of fun at High Park Family Fun Place. It was our very last day with Lucas and Maya. As I write this blog, they are sailing across the ocean to England!

The kids had a blast! I've only taken Noah there once, and it was so long ago that he doesn't remember. They explored all the toys, and mastered most of the playground. They even wanted to try the monkey bars, which Marlaine and I helped them with.

The boys especially loved the plasma cars. They don't quite know yet how to rotate the steering wheel to make the car go, but this didn't seem to slow them down! 

Maya's favourite activity by far was playing dress-up. Marlaine would help her get into an outfit, and then Maya would come find me to show it off. When I asked to take a picture of her in her witch costume, she marched right over to the gorilla again to pose. Because I had taken another picture of her here, I guess she though this was the 'photo shoot' area. What a model!

As she did not stray from this activity, eventually everyone came to join her. Here she is, the diva with Buzz Lightyear - I mean Aidas! How adorable is that?!

Marlaine had pizza and cheese bread delivered to the play centre for lunch. It was delicious. Then we let the kids play a little while longer before we finally had to drag them home for naps. 

I can't believe we won't be seeing Lucas and Maya anymore. I hope that in this computer age, the kids will connect with each other when they're older. Even if they don't remember a lot about their time together by that point, at least they always have this blog to remind them!