Polar Express: Matching PJs Edition

We rode the Polar Express run by the West Coast Railway for our third time. This was, by far, our most enjoyable year, though that had as much to do with planning as with the age of our children. This year, we rode the train at 2pm, which allowed us to fully enjoy the activities in the Roundhouse after the train ride, while still preserving the illusion of “arriving” at the North Pole. 

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Though Aiden is not as obsessed with The Polar Express as he was in the two previous years, he did still enjoy the entire trip. His face lit up when the conductor came by and when the child actors came in pretending to be the children from the movie. Very nice addition to the experience and one we did not expect at all. Aiden literally glowed! He was also beside himself with excitement to tour the interior of the engine that mimics the real Polar Express:

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The next bonus was the child-led controls in the mini train area, which was a highlight for Aiden. He was mad we had to move on when Damien lost interest, but that was our only low point in the night. 

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Each year the experience gets better and I am so happy it’s a part of our holiday traditions! Damien also loved riding a moving train, even though he’s not as immersed in the Polar Express culture.

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This year, I managed to get both kids into their PJs (I wavered and gave them their Christmas Eve PJs early, since SO CUTE!) and planned it all better, to have two layers of PJs to avoid the cold. This year Aiden was interested in wearing his PJs, so that was a bonus. He didn’t want them last year and the previous year he only consented to wear the top. Finally, after years of struggling to find them matching PJs (who knew it was so hard), I purchased a matching set (2 months in advance, let me tell you). Huzzah!

Growing Up Too Quickly

There are moments when you realize your child is growing up. For me, one of those moments came yesterday when Aiden pitched in to help create my mom’s Christmas village. Rather than haphazardly putting up buildings and accessories, he put thought into the placement of each piece in relation to the rest. 

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And then, on the way home, he flew Santa’s sleigh full of presents. Still my little boy. But growing so quickly.

Damien at 2.5: A Snapshot

Damien turned 2.5 almost a month ago and I wanted to record for posterity where he’s at right now in his life. I can’t believe he’s half way to being 3 years old, and yet for sure I can say he is most definitely a 2-year-old. Since the last time I checked in almost 5 months ago, Damien has learned to assert his will and his independence… unless he doesn’t want to, of course. He’s just as much a 2 year old as Aiden was at this age.

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Damien loves to negate things, even when he readily retracts it, and is as much prone to yelling or going limp in refusal or dropping down when he wants to get his way. He has strong opinions, my little one! But at the same time, he’s still very cuddly and loving and outgoing and social. This contrariness, of extreme clinginess to extreme independence, is very common at this age. 

This last month saw a lot of these traits come out, particularly exacerbated by a week-long bout of illness and potty training. He’s completely potty trained now, but we’ve had issues with withholding that we are still working on. It’s a process. 

Where Damien is now:

  • Weighs 28lbs
  • 36” tall
  • Has only 1 of his back molars (3 to go!)
  • Favourite foods include quesadillas, bagels with cream cheese, strawberries, yogurt raisins, yogurt drinks, smoothies of all kinds, sushi, miso soup
  • Loves puzzles. Can independently complete puzzles he knows well, up to 40 pieces, and can sit with you to help do puzzles up to 100 pieces.
  • Loves board games, particularly Candyland and the Discovery Beach Game
  • Still loves to make music. Preferred instruments are drums and guitar. Is obsessed with The Wiggles. We have about a dozen of their albums
  • Starting to branch out in tv interests, including shows such as Curious George and Blues Clues in with his Wiggles time
  • Loves to read longer stories, particularly those by Robert Munsch and anything Curious George
  • Almost dropped his nap, but then got sick and that threw things off. Wakes around 5:30am and struggles to fall asleep at night. 
  • Is potty trained (ok, mostly), including for naps and night
  • Can count to 20 and sing the alphabet
  • Can recognize some letters
  • Can use scissors
  • Can be destructive or run away at the blink of an eye. That defiance thing is in full force!
  • Can speak with fluency and very few “baby” words left. Still uses “too-key” for “excuse me” and “this a for?” for “what’s this,” and “Gooes Boos” for “Blues Clues.” Says all names properly now too (I miss him saying Aidne and Gaggy!)

The Best Christmas Gifts for Men

Every year, there is a lot of chatter about what to buy for the men in our lives. Be they husbands, boyfriends or Dads, men can be hard to buy for! Now, I know each guy has different tastes, but I know we can do better than ties and golf stuff, right?! Following my post on The Best Stocking Stuffers for Guys, I put together this Shopping Guide to the Best Christmas Gifts for Guys that involves both gifts my husband has asked for in the past, or currently has on his wish list, plus a few ideas of my own. 

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  • Bluetooth speaker - my husband asked for (and received) the UE Mini Boom for his birthday. He did his research on options and hit on this amazing bluetooth speaker that we use either in our office or move around wherever we want some extra music! Since it’s bluetooth, you can play from your phone or any bluetooth-enabled device. 
  • Car Tech Toys – there are a lot of toys you can buy for cars, depending on your guy. Whether it’s accessories for the car itself or, in my case, tech gadgets. Our top recommendations include the Portable Smartphone Mount, which clips onto your vents!, an extra charger (variable depending on your car) or an audio cable so you can play music or podcasts or get audio directions directly from your phone 
  • Cards Against Humanity - even for non-gamers, this entirely inappropriate game is perfect as a gift! Bonus: you can give expansion packs in future years!! They make great stocking stuffers ;)
  • BBQ Rotisserie - you can buy a brand-specific rotisserie for your BBQ, but they are super expensive. You may find a universal rotisserie like this one works for you. My husband got this last year and though it doesn’t fit as snugly as a super expensive option would have, it still works. We roast TWO chickens at a time on it!
  • Home Brew Kit - my husband wants to brew his own beer, but space has always been an issue. He recently discovered the Box Brew Kits which are not only super amazing looking, but don’t require a lot of space. If you don’t want to give a DIY kit, I highly recommend a selection of craft beers! You could even invest in a couple of growlers and pre-fill them with a local beer. 
  • Clothes – when it comes to clothes, I like to buy something that will actually get worn, but is nicer than what my husband would typically buy for himself. Wether this is a nicer pair of jogging pants (like Lululemon) or a great sweater (Banana Republic has the most flattering ones in a variety of styles!) or a new fleece jacket or something of that kind. 
  • Pedicure – because, have you seen his feet? Well, he may deny he needs it, but team up to get him to go with another guy pal if you think that will get him there. Trust me, he’ll thank you. There are salons that offer men’s pedicure options.
  • Tickets & Gift Certificates – this one is really personal. Does your guy like sports, theatre, movies, music, trips? Is he a foodie? Scour sites like Groupon for deals, or grab tickets to a coveted event and wrap it up in a larger box. If you have kids, secure your babysitting as part of a “date night” package.

Here’s hoping these gifts are a hit with the guy in your life!