Weeks 31-40

*WEEK 31    WEEK 32    WEEK 33   WEEK 34    WEEK 35    WEEK 36
WEEK 37     WEEK 38     WEEK 39     WEEK 40

WEEK 31: July 30, 2013 – August 5, 2013 – MOVE TO A “BIG GIRL” BED

Any parent of small children will tell you that any significant change in their routine can be a bit of a harrowing experience-for both the child and the parents! Alexandra is generally a pretty easy going kid, but we’re always a little nervous about changing up any important part of her day. This is especially true when it comes to sleep. We went through a few months before Alex turned a year old when her sleep was unpredictable and we’re nervous about doing anything that might take us back to those sleepless nights.

Despite our apprehension about affecting her sleep pattern, this week we felt it was time to finally move Alex from her crib to a regular bed, what we’ve been calling her “big girl” bed. When we bought the crib over two years ago we also got one of those conversion kits that allows the crib to be changed into a regular double bed. Alex’s new mattresses arrived early this past week and once they arrived Brad got to work converting the crib to a bed. After two long hours spent putting it together we realized that the bed was much too high to let Alex sleep on alone, so Brad spent another hour taking it apart.

We were much happier with the result when we put the mattresses directly on the floor, along with a safety rail on one side to be sure she wouldn’t fall off of the side of the bed not pushed up against the wall. The first night out of the crib I have to admit I was pretty nervous. We’ve become accustomed to sleeping through the night again and anything that might put that at risk is pretty nerve-wracking. I’m very happy to report that the Alex has loved her new bed so far. Her sleep hasn’t been affected (THANK GOD!) and she’s even started putting her own ”babies” to bed every night before it’s time for her to go to sleep.

Our move to the “big girl” bed was a resounding success…now off to a much needed week away at the cottage.

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WEEK 32: August 6, 2013 – August 12, 2013 - GO ON VACATION

This week we took a much needed family vacation. With the stress of starting daycare and the non-stop speed of our daily lives we were all looking forward to taking some time off to just hang out and relax. We decided that a week at the cottage would be the most relaxing and probably the most fun for Alex, and as it turned out for us too.

While most of the week was spent doing your typical summer activities (playing in the water, hanging out on the beach, BBQing and eating ice cream), we did take one afternoon to visit Blue Mountain and do something a little different.

Blue Mountain is of course a ski resort in the winter, but it’s also pretty cool place in the summer too. They’ve set up a lot of different activities that people of all ages can enjoy- from bike riding to rock climbing to mini golf, there’s something for everyone. Recently they’ve also put in some “rides”.

Most of these rides require the participant be at least 3 years old and a certain height- something like 100 cm- to ride. To be honest, I thought 3 was still way too young for some of them, they seemed awfully fast for kids that small, but this might be the nervous first-time mom in me coming out. The one ride that Alex could go on was what they call the “gondola”; they basically take the regular ski lift seats off and replace them with these tall buckets that you stand in to view the surrounding scenery. They fit about 8 people in them comfortably and are totally safe for the little ones too (you can even bring your stroller on). Seeing this we thought it’d be a great new experience for Miss. Alexandra, the chance to see the world from up high and breathe in some fresh mountain air, perfect right? As it turns out, not so much…

It took this gondola ride for us to discovered that the little lady is not so into heights. The second our car started to climb the lift she was clinging to Brad’s neck yelling, “Daddy, no like, NO LIKE!”. She immediately wanted to get off- the thing is, once you’re on the gondola, you’re STUCK, there is no getting out of your car until you reach the top. She loosened up a bit after a minute or two, but never let go of Brad’s neck, so when we reached the top, instead of getting off and taking a walk to enjoy the top of the mountain like we’d originally intended, we decided to ride the same car back down for fear that Alex wouldn’t want to get back in to get us down!

We spent the rest of our afternoon at Blue Mountain with our feet safely planted on the ground, playing in their sandbox and playground area and eating fun treats like poutine and pizza. Alex was much happier with these familiar activities- proving I guess that with kids sometimes new experiences aren’t necessarily better.

Our vacation sadly came to an end on Sunday night when we drove home from the cottage. It was a fun week off with some much-needed time together and it made us look forward to the next long weekend when we can spend some more time up there…although next time we’re definitely not going on a gondola ride!

 

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WEEK 33: August 13, 2013 – August 19, 2013 – BUILD SANDCASTLES

This weekend, after enjoying a fantastic dinner out for our 4th anniversary on Friday night (we had a great experience at King West’s Patria for anyone looking to try something new), we decided to head up to the cottage early Saturday morning, for just one night. After our fun week off last week I think we were all going through some beach withdrawal.

The surprise highlight of this weekend was actually the simplest of activities. We went to the beach to have a bit of a swim in the bay- the weather was gorgeous and the water temperature was perfect for swimming- but ended up getting side-tracked with making sandcastles! Alex loved the whole process; she patiently filled her bucket up to the top, gently turned it over and then meticulously tapped all sides so the bucket would be easy to remove. We did this repeatedly (for a surprisingly long time considering her toddler’s attention span), before having some fun knocking them to the ground.

I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that I really got into it too, I’m even contemplating buying a bigger pail so that we can do more elaborate work next time! Who said sandcastles were just for kids :)

Hope everyone enjoyed their weekend as well!…until next week…

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WEEK 34: August 20, 2013 – August 26, 2013 - VISIT THE ROYAL ONTARIO MUSEUM

I’ve been wanting to take Alexandra to a museum for quite some time- mostly because I really love them (geek alert!) , but also because it feels like “educational” fun –  yeah, I’m THAT mom. I’ve been to the Royal Ontario Museum here in Toronto a few times, most recently for a company Christmas party (VERY cool venue if anyone is looking), but hadn’t worked up to taking Alex just yet-until this weekend that is.

My good friend Gemma and I had been looking to hang out for awhile (she has a little girl who is a year older than Alex) and had decided that the ROM would be a fun place to have our play date. We finally met up this past Saturday morning to enjoy some girl time in the kid-centered exhibits at the museum.

After taking in the dinosaurs on the main floor on our way in we made our way to the animal exhibits upstairs. This area was as I remembered it from years ago- life-sized versions of various animals were on display for visitors to enjoy. It was really cool to show Alex some of the familiar animals she’s seen in her books, things like bears and birds and zebras, but walking by all of the animals it occurred to us (the moms, not the kids!) that maybe these animals were actually stuffed versions of the real thing; we never confirmed if that was the case- does anyone know??

As we walked deeper into the animal exhibit we found more and more activities for the kids to enjoy- they had puzzles and a drawing area as well as a fox’s “den” where the kids could crawl to take a look at fox replicas behind some glass. They also had a real-life ant farm which was surprisingly fascinating to watch (it doesn’t sound like much, but it’s pretty amazing watching an ant carrying a leaf four times it’s size- you’ll have to take my word for it!).

When we’d finally tired of the animals we found our way to a kids’ exploratory zone where they had a ton of hands-on activities the little ones could enjoy. There were stations where they could search for fossils, dress up in Medieval costumes and play with some make-believe food (Alex’s favourite thing right now). It was a great little area, but by the time we’d gotten there all four of us were exhausted so we took it all in really quickly before going to the cafeteria to enjoy a nice lunch. After stuffing ourselves with healthy soup and not-so-healthy cupcakes we said good-bye to our awesome play date companions and made our way home for a nap.

That evening the weather was so gorgeous that we decided to go to Yonge street to check out what Buskerfest (the street performer’s festival)  had to offer. Unfortunately by the time we’d gotten down there, Miss. Alex had developed a bit of a fever and wasn’t feeling well so our evening out was short-lived. She did however get to enjoy a nice cool lemonade, before we headed home. Minus being a touch under the weather, it was a super fun weekend for the little miss and for us too. Now we look forward to the last long weekend of summer…can you believe it’s almost fall already?!

 

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WEEK 35: August 27, 2013 – September 2, 2013 - HOSTING GOOD FRIENDS AT THE COTTAGE & FLYING A KITE (SORT OF!)

This weekend was the last long weekend of summer (insert sad sigh here). How is it September already?! (said everyone everywhere)- as hard as it is to believe our summer is unofficially over. And with it went our last long weekend at the cottage. Our plan this weekend had been to hang out with friends (this part was a success!) and also attempt to fly this cool kite we’d bought a few months ago (this part, not so much).

We arrived at the cottage on Saturday afternoon and had a relaxing night watching Alex run back and forth along the big lawn, while trying to decide if we liked our new couch which had finally arrived after eight long weeks of waiting (at first we weren’t even sure if it was the one we’d ordered!). We’ve since decided that it looks good…we think…

On Sunday we finally got to have my cousin Kathy and her husband Jole come by with their two adorable kiddies Chloe and Jonathan. Kath & Jole have a special place in our hearts, not only because we introduced them almost 8 years ago (Jole is actually a good childhood friend of Brad’s), but also because we are godparents to their kids. Hanging out is always lots of fun- and it was made even better under a sunny sky accompanied by almost perfect temperatures.  All the kids had a great time chasing bubbles and playing on the lawn, a wonderful afternoon with good friends.

Monday’s weather, unfortunately didn’t offer us the same opportunity to hang out outside. My good friend Sophie came up to visit and was welcomed by rain and cold temps! We ended up spending the day indoors trying to find ways to entertain the kids (sweet young Peyton was also up at the cottage for the weekend).  This was a good opportunity to bring out Alex’s pencil crayons (she’s mostly good at not writing on the walls now) and to try out the aforementioned kite! After only a few minutes with the kite Brad realized that it likely wasn’t the safest thing for a toddler to be near- it took two adults to really control it and tended to come crashing down VERY quickly when there wasn’t enough wind! So much for that idea- but I guess you don’t know until you try. We’ll definitely have to try that again in a few years….and in the meantime maybe we’ll buy a simpler kid-tested kite for the little miss to play with.

On to this week- as everyone is back to school Alex is starting out September with a move to the preschool room at her daycare, she officially graduated from her toddler room- yeaaahh! Here’s hoping for a smooth transition! Until next week…

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WEEK 36: September 3, 2013 – September 9, 2013 - BAKE BANANA BREAD & PLAY HOP SCOTCH

This week was pretty low-key in our household. We were busy with work and Alexandra was busy adjusting to her new room at daycare (we’re slowly getting there!). Mid week, after looking at the 20 some-odd bananas in my freezer for weeks, we decided to bake some banana bread.

Buying bananas always seems like a great idea, they’re nutritious, they’re easy to have on the go and Alex, on most days, really likes them- BUT despite this, no matter now small a bunch we buy we always end up with a few that go brown. I felt bad throwing these bananas away (because we do this OFTEN), so I started stock piling them in the freezer, thinking I’d just pull them out now and then and make banana bread. After weeks of being too lazy to make a dent in the banana inventory in the freezer we finally made some bread this week.

It was an exceptionally messy baking session, mostly because Alex wants to do everything “all by myself”, as she puts it. The independent streak is awesome, but also somewhat frustrating at times when you’re still walking on grains of sugar days after baking! As she requested, Alex mushed the bananas, put in all of the ingredients and mixed everything together- all by herself. The result was some pretty delicious banana bread that we enjoyed all week. And since we have many more bananas in the freezer, we’ll be sure to do this again in the weeks to come.

We rounded off the weekend with our last foray to the cottage for the summer (insert sad face here) and an unexpected game of hopscotch for the little lady. Brad’s aunt came by for a visit and suggested it when she saw Alex playing with her sidewalk chalk. It’s a game we’d have never thought to teach her, so it was nice to have some ‘old-school’ input :)

Next week we start our toddler soccer league, SOOO excited! Have a good one everyone.

P.S. Here’s the banana bread recipe we followed for anyone who is interested:

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup sugar (can easily reduce to 3/4 cup)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

METHOD

No need for a mixer for this recipe. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix. Pour mixture into a buttered 4×8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.

Yield: Makes one loaf.

 

IMG_9546

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WEEK 37: September 10, 2013 – September 16, 2013 - PLAY SOCCER

It’s wise advice not to try to push your kids to like an activity just because you enjoy it. When you introduce something new if they take to it and want to participate, great, if not, let them find something that they enjoy (even if it’s not your cup of tea).  This is great advice and I’m really hoping Brad and I are going to be able to follow it! Both of us are huge sports nuts; we love watching, we love playing, we have even scheduled weekends away around sporting events, so we’re really hoping little Miss. Alexandra is going to enjoy sports as well.

So far things seem promising; it feels like she was able to run before she actually walked and she absolutely loves being outside- so here’s hoping! Only time will really tell, but we tried to test the waters a little bit this past weekend at her first day in a toddler soccer ‘league’.

After doing some research and getting some advice from the awesome network of moms at SavvyMoms.ca we decided on Little Kickers East York. They offered the best location for us and also the best times (Saturday mornings, well before Alex’s nap). There was also the bonus that younger toddlers could join in- most kids’ leagues start at age 3.

This last thing actually gave me pause for a second- while I want Alex to try everything (and I have to admit, I occasionally feel stress about “missing out” on opportunities, because it feels like kids are exposed to everything so young!), I never want her to feel pressured- EVER. I questioned why some leagues don’t start until the age of three and wondered if we should wait. Brad and I chatted about it and decided we’d give this initial 6-week program at Little Kickers a try and see if she liked it. If at any time she really didn’t seem interested in playing we wouldn’t push and we’d maybe try again next summer or fall.

So with that decided we signed up for a 6-week program in the Junior Kickers category (ages 2-3 1/2).  At $91.50 (plus a $30 initial membership fee- which included a uniform for your child), their prices seemed to be in-line with other leagues that I’d seen, but a definite jump from the $35 price tag of her swim classes in the spring!

Our first class on Saturday morning started out great- she was excited to put on her new uniform and while she was shy to try the activities alone (I was with her for the better part of the 45 minute session), she was eager to participate. I found the coaches running the session were a good mix of fun and firm and the “drills” were very toddler appropriate – there was a lot of running around with some more skilled elements like kicking a mini ball into a net using both feet and matching coloured rings on pylons.

Just 10 minutes shy of the end of the class Alex decided that she wanted to go see Daddy who was watching from the other side of the gym. She then had a mini meltdown when Brad wouldn’t give her a cookie until the soccer session was over. We managed to stay until the end, with the help of one of the organizers who sweetly gave her a sticker as a reward for getting through session #1.

We’re hoping that her runny nose contributed to her grumpiness and that next week we’ll make it through the entire 45 minutes. As a first time out though, this week wasn’t too bad. And we were definitely pleased with our choice of program.  We ended off the morning with a nice breakfast out, which I think is going to become a bit of an after-soccer ritual. Nothing like a blueberry muffin to put a smile on Miss. Alex’s face when she’s grumpy!

P.S. A very special Happy Birthday wish goes out to our sweet niece Elena who celebrated her first birthday last week- all the best sweetheart, we love you!

Until next week…

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WEEK 38: September 17, 2013 – September 23, 2013 - MAKE WINE

A few months ago Brad came home from work one evening and proclaimed that he wanted to make wine this fall. He had been working really closely on an IT project at work with an older Italian gentleman and after a few weeks of hearing about the whole process he was sold! As an aside, Brad also suggested we buy a food mill in order to make our own tomato sauce- Tony from work had quite an influence :)

So after getting a barrel from his dad (who has made wine in the past) and doing some research about the types of grapes we’d need and how to store them, this Saturday he went and bought 6 big crates of “Cabernet” grapes from a specialty store that sells produce just for this purpose.

Even though Alexandra won’t be able to partake in the final product, there was no reason she couldn’t help daddy get his grapes ready for the whole fermenting process. We started our Sunday morning by slowly taking the grapes off of their stems. This (along with the crushing) is usually done at the store where you purchase your grapes, but the particular place where Brad had gone had a 12 case minimum set in order to use their crushing machines. (Note that we won’t be going to the same place next year if we choose to do this again- we later heard about another store that has much friendlier service and will crush your grapes no matter the quantity!)

After about 30 minutes of “de-steming” we realized that it would take the better part of the day to complete all 6 cases and so we settled on making our first batch of wine with the stems in. This apparently will make it a touch more bitter, but we likely won’t notice since it’s our first time! We let Alex play around with the grapes awhile longer while Brad put the rest through a crusher we had in the basement (an old relic from his grandfather’s day that had been lying around) and then placed them in the barrel in our tool shed.

When nap time rolled around Alex and I went in to enjoy a snooze while Brad finished up the crushing. The result of course was a huge barrel full of smushed grapes that I am mildly concerned will stink up the shed as the grapes start to ferment- Brad assures me that won’t be the case, let’s hope he’s right!

Now to wait a few months to see how it all goes. We’ll let you know how the first ever edition of the “Alexandra Reserve” Cabernet works out! Until next week…

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WEEK 39: September 24, 2013 – September 30, 2013 - TIE-DYE T-SHIRTS

The idea for this week’s activity came from our friends at http://www.365thingsin365days.com/ (challenge #253). I had noticed this activity ages ago when I first encountered the blog, partly because I’d done it once when I was a kid and mostly because I thought it was something that Alex would find pretty neat. There was also the added bonus that we didn’t have to use any harsh dyes to achieve a cool result, all natural tumeric would do the trick.

I bought the tumeric mid-week in preparation for our activity (after being forewarned by friends that it might make our house a bit stinky- uh-oh!), but what I didn’t think about though was the fact that we’d need elastics. You just assume you have that sort of thing at home, but it turned out we didn’t and had to use twist ties instead- not ideal, but we made do.

We started off the tie-dying process by soaking 3 old white t-shirst in cold water (one for each of us). This apparently would help the dye settle. We then took our twist ties and wrapped them around the shirt at various locations, twisting and turning the cotton along the way. Alex really liked this part and didn’t question why the heck we were doing it, in that awesome way kids just go with the flow when something is fun.

Then we added 4 tablespoons of tumeric to water and let the water boil for about 30 minutes before putting in our shirts. We left the shirts in the boiling water for a full hour (as per the instructions) and then after letting them cool down and wringing them out, we pulled the ties off (on our paper towel lined floor of course!) . I was sort of worried about trailing yellow all over our house and so decided to hang the shirts out to dry before letting Alex have a good look at her final product.

The result looked super cute on Alex’s toddler-sized tee, you could see the distinct tie dye pattern all over the shirt and the yellow colour wasn’t overwhelming; unfortunately we didn’t see the same effect on our bigger shirts, they looked more stained than anything else. I think it was because the twist ties covered less area and so you just had big blobs of yellow vs. the nice “star” effect.

In the end that didn’t really matter since over all Alex seemed pretty impressed with what we’d done. Her only complaint was that the colour of the design wasn’t purple- her steadfast favourite. I think it’d be neat to try this again sometime, using different spices (or natural dyes) that could give us different colours as well. And next time we’d definitely use elastic bands! For now though, our yellow little creation will do just fine as a conversation piece for her little friends at daycare :)

For anyone interested, the detailed step-by-step instructons can be found here. Oh and just a little tip, tumeric turns nails an unattractive yellow colour, so when you try this out, don’t forget to wear gloves or you’ll be scrubbing your fingers with all kinds of soaps and cleansers for days to make them look normal again!

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WEEK 40: October 1, 2013 – October 7, 2013 - VISIT THE MARKHAM FAIR

This weekend the town of Markham was hosting their annual fair- basically a mini version of the CNE in the north-east part of Markham. I’ve heard about it for years, but I had never actually gone before this year.  Alexandra had been talking about it all week (we built up the fact that we were going to see horses and cows) and the lure of fried food had Brad and I looking forward to it too.

We headed up to Markham late in the afternoon to meet our good friends Kathy & Jole and their two sweethearts, Jonathan and Chloe. The weather ended up being gorgeous and it felt like we couldn’t walk two steps without running into someone we knew (I think half the people we grew up with now live in Markham!), so we had a good time just walking around, but Alex was a bit freaked out by the noise of the attractions. She seemed genuinely worried for the people on the fast-moving rides!

She relaxed when we sat down to have a snack (french fries and elephant ears- a.k.a. beaver tails) and enjoyed walking through the petting zoo and the vendor building, where we saw prize winning potatoes and squash- exciting ;)

All-in-all a fun afternoon and a good introduction to the fall activities ahead. Until next week…

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One Response to Weeks 31-40

  1. franbrad_alex says:

    You guys are ALWAYS welcome! :)

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