Damien at 26 Months

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been 2 months since Damien had his 2nd birthday. The time has been flying by. Given how much nice weather we’ve been having, our days are long and packed full of exciting activities. Damien seems like such a different boy now – truly a boy now, not my little baby. It’s funny how verbalization and independence truly change the character of our children and alter the dynamics of our lives.

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We have achieved so much freedom in our family in the last couple of months. We go hiking, we spend hours at the park, we have conversations and we create bonds that are unbreakable. The bond I see growing between Aiden and Damien is the highlight of my life. Though they struggle with rough play and boundaries as much as any other sibling set, they truly love each other’s company and are finding common ground in their play (which is great, as their interests vary quite a lot). 

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  • Weighs 27.7 lbs
  • Wears size 8-9 shoes
  • Favourite foods: yam sushi, noodle soup, hummus, bagel with cream cheese, Burgoo macaroni and cheese, corn on the cob, fancy quesadillas, quinoa, spicy fried rice, pizza, tzatziki, souvlaki chicken, butter chicken, meatballs, 
  • Experienced his first bee sting. “Damien, we don’t touch bees!” didn’t work for months, but as he put it, “Be, vvvvvv (fly), squish! Ouch”, he learned they hurt. We got the stinger out quickly and he only said “Ouchie”, then was mostly ok.
  • Is extremely loving and social. Loves many kids and adults and is extremely willing to show that affection.
  • Is learning to be more careful at playgrounds, while still being adventurous
  • Loves to swim. Can now float and kick on his own in water wings
  • Could spend his whole day listening to / playing music. If he’s not playing along with his drum(s) or guitar, he will often cock his head to the side to pick up the beat / memorize the words
  • Has created his own percussion set at home, with 2 carefully placed drums and a stainless steel water bottle for the cymbals 
  • Loves to walk around with his bells. Is very particular about which bell he takes, though. He will ring them until he finds the “right” tone. 
  • Is currently obsessed with the Lumineers and The Wiggles
  • Can sing many songs without assistance, including Twinkle Twinkle, Head and Shoulders, the Alphabet, A is for Apple, Row Row Row your Boat, Itsy Bitsy Spider and more
  • Loves to dance. The more crazy, the better
  • Can name many songs and books by name
  • Can identify most colours and shapes, though not consistently
  • Other preferred toys include the play kitchen, mega blocks, and water guns. Has little to no interest in cars, trucks or train
  • Very quickly moved to using personal pronouns, particularly “I”. He never really referred to himself in the third person more than a handful of times.
  • Is speaking in full sentences sometimes and mostly is understood by others. Has a large vocabulary. 
  • My favourite words and phrases: I do it!, right?, Aidne watch!, buy cream (ice cream), two king (excuse me), where ___ gone?, hurt a self, glapes (grapes), minish (finish), uzzer sizes (other side), thanks welcome (thanks, you’re welcome), let’s find out!, this a for? (what’s this for?), cool, this one cool!, what doing?, miss ___ (whoever he misses)

Apparently He’ll Let Anyone Paint His Face

We’ve come a long way in the 2 years since Aiden first had any body paint applied. Aiden has always been more sensitive to sensory experiences, and face painting fell into that category. As did sand and messy eating. Sometimes it worked in my favour. 

Aiden’s first paint experience was a small ladybug on his hand. A few months later, he had a star on his cheek. Generally, though, he would refuse any opportunity to have his face painted. NOT ANYMORE. 

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Today, Aiden let a young boy paint his face. The boy was maybe 6 years old? It was supposed to be a batman mask with a night sky. I can sort of see it?

I think the inspiration image was kind of like this

Yay for improvement in sensory experiences? Thank goodness for the Mary Kay make-up remover cloths!

Modifying Adult Board Games for Kids

Aiden was about 26 months old when he first became obsessed with board games. His first board game was the Curious George Discovery Beach game that was all about finding shapes and colours hidden in the ‘sand’ and he played it all the time. Since that very first board game, we have been modifying game rules to suit his age. Now that Aiden is older, he still requests to play a board game almost every day, except now the games are much longer and more involved. 

I have spent far too many hours researching board games for kids and more often than not find them too stupid or not well made or boring after a few plays. Even after my research, some of the games we’ve tried have been duds. The most successful games for Aiden (who is now 4.5) have been adult games, modified to suit his ability level. I find that adult games, being longer, are more easily suited to the enjoyment of the process of playing, rather than winning vs losing

Aiden’s favourite game right now is Carcassonne. Thankfully, it’s my favourite game too, so I don’t mind playing it a few times a week. This was an extremely easy game to modify for Aiden, as it simply involved taking out whole sets of rules. For example, when we began we took out the cloister cards and didn’t build farms. Instead, we focused on cities and roads only. Since Aiden has experience playing dominoes, he found it very easy to understand this game – indeed, he won against me fair and square the first time (I rarely dumb down my abilities). I sometimes have to remind him “Do you want to claim that city / road?” if he forgets, but the placement of the cards has been very easy for him. 

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Aiden has only once been upset playing Carcassonne, because he “didn’t get to flip his card to 100”, not because he lost. He’s won a couple of times, but usually I win and he’s ok with that. We have already added in the cloisters, so only the farms are excluded from our games now.

Here is Aiden playing “the train game,” aka Ticket to Ride. This was not quite as straightforward to modify, since there are a lot of cards and rules involved. You can find ideas for modifications here, though we went further and removed the destination tickets, instead just having fun building the train segments. 

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The next came on my list is a children’s game specifically simplified from the adult version, Catan: Junior. Given that Aiden’s 5th birthday is coming up, we’re trying to be patient ;)

Top 7 Ice Cream Stores in North Vancouver

This week I put out the word, “What’s the best place to go for ice cream in North Vancouver?” asking in specific for family-friendly locations. Well, North Vancouver moms came to the rescue, and I’m compiling here a list of the Top 7 Ice Cream Shops in North Vancouver. 

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  1. Brazza Gelato & Coffee is the top favourite by many families. With 3 locations in North Vancouver, two off Lonsdale and one close to Capilano Mall, Brazza’s gelato is made fresh daily using natural ingredients, with no extra air whipped in. This gelato is more dense and loved by many in North Van.
  2. Marble Slab Creamery on Esplanade offers the mixins you have come to expect from a frozen yogurt store, but mixed into ice cream instead. Or rather, folded. There are 50 flavours of ice cream and 20 mixins with some great combinations suggested to create a delicious treat. Not the cheapest ice cream, but delicious. I can also vouch for the deliciousness of their ice cream cakes. 
  3. COCOfroyo in Edgemont offers frozen yogurt and sorbets made with products as locally sourced as possible. Toppings available too!
  4. Sugar & Co. in Lynn Valley is an amazing candy store serving ice cream from Birchwood Dairy in Abbotsford and frozen yogurt from Mario’s Gelati in Vancouver. We’ve been here several times for ice cream and are pleased with the quality. It’s also a great chance for me to snag a bag of sour candies, which I’m a sucker for. (Side note: we shop here a lot at Christmas and they are very helpful with specialty candies for parties!)
  5. Frux Frozen Yogurt at Lonsdale Quay makes organic frozen yogurt and smoothies from scratch. I believe they took over the corner stall from a previous store that sold ice cream, so don’t be confused. Frux is new and quite delicious, our family gave it a thumbs up. 
  6. Gelato Express is a Deep Cove institution, known mostly by its train tracks that circle the ceiling. If you tell people it’s the “ice cream place next to Honey’s,” they’ll know where you mean. This is not to be confused with the Deep Cove Ice Cream Café on the other side of Honey’s. Neither place has a website, but you can’t miss the train! 
  7. Yeti Yogurt on Esplanade, fairly new to the area, had a number of good reviews by parents for the frozen yogurt and toppings, but one mom had a bad experience there with employees complaining about parents changing diapers in their washroom. 

Note that not a single person I polled suggested the chains such as Dairy Queen or Baskin Robbins! An honorable mention was made for Pinkberry, which is available a short hop over at Park Royal Village in West Vancouver. Pinkberry is a large brand that specializes in frozen yogurt with fun toppings, and they’ve got it down to a science. The place is fun and fast and tasty. A great treat after all that hard work shopping. 

Where’s the Menchie’s? Although many people will suggest Menchie’s as a great option for frozen yogurt and fun toppings, I have been several times and think that the “fun” stops when you actually eat the frozen yogurt. If you’re looking for good not fun, skip it. 

If you are looking to buy good ice cream to take home, I also highly suggest Earnest Ice Cream. Though amazing in-store in Vancouver, you can also buy it by the pint from Nourish Market in Lynn Valley. We have been known to do this a few times. ;)

Confederation Park Playground and Spray Park

Yesterday, I joined some friends to visit Confederation Park in Burnaby for some play in their new water park. Our family has made a few visits to this park after a trip to the mini trains at Burnaby Central Railway across the street.

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Confederation Park has been undergoing renovations for more than a year, with the water park opening earlier this summer and the playground opening very recently. In fact, Burnaby is having its Grand Opening celebration on Saturday July 19th (details here). 

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