To My Son on the First Day of Kindergarten

Aiden arieanna

Dear Aiden,

I’ve been known to write you letters on your birthday and other special occasions. Tomorrow isn’t your birthday, but it is nonetheless momentous. I have felt all day that I am bursting with mixed emotions about the changes that begin tomorrow. There is so much that I am feeling and so much I want to say. So I’m writing you this letter. 

Tomorrow you begin Kindergarten. Tomorrow you begin walking a path that will slowly take you into your own future life. Your own independence. 

Up to now, we have walked hand in hand as you have grown up. I have been with you almost every day of your nearly 5 years. I have had the privilege to take care of you each and every day. Yes, you had preschool, but what is 4 hours really? Just a moment gone by. And now 5 years of those moments have flown by and you are here, on the precipice of all this change. This change which suddenly overwhelms me.

Tomorrow I will walk you to school. I will hold your hand and I will give you a hug and I will wave at you as you enter your new school. You’ll meet new friends, some of whom may turn out to be lifelong friends, some of whom may not. But either way, most of those kids will be with you for years to come. You will spend most of your waking hours with them. 

Tomorrow I will let go of your hand as you enter your school. Those first steps take you to a place where I cannot hold your hand, but will forever be at your side, thinking of you. Even as the years pass and you no longer want to hold my hand as we walk to school, I’ll still be there. Even as you head off to high school then graduate, I’ll still be there. Even as you forge your own life on your own, I’ll still be there. I’ll always be there. 

Tomorrow I will let go of your hand. Tomorrow your new life begins. 

I love you Aiden. I am so proud of you and so excited for you and so nervous as well. 

Love,
Mommy

Aiden’s Razor Scooter

Aiden has been ‘earning’ a scooter all summer. Honestly, I didn’t think it would take so long, but it was a hard goal for him to achieve. With the 7th sticker on his reward chart, we happily handed him his new Razor Scooter

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All of the neighbourhood kids have Razor Scooters, either the A2 or A3 models. There are an overwhelming number of models, but we ended up choosing the A3 model because it’s a bit smoother gliding. He would have been fine with either, honestly, but the price different was so minute I figured we’d get the ‘better’ one. After researching all the places you could buy Razor scooters (Walmart, Canadian Tire, Costco), by far the best price I could find was on Amazon.ca! It was at our door in a couple of days (yay Prime membership) and Aiden was off on it right away. 

In a way, it was good that Aiden took a while to complete his reward product. He perfected his scooter skills on his friends’ scooters at the same time he was learning to ride his pedal bike, and we didn’t want to distract him from focusing on that skill first. He’s now a proficient bike rider, so having a scooter just makes him more a part of the neighbourhood ‘gang’ of kids. So cute to see him out racing with his friends!

Brothers Need Time Apart

I have two very amazing and lovely boys. They are cuddly and loving and outgoing and bright. They can be a lot of fun to be around. But I’ll be honest, we have struggled this summer. Once preschool ended for Aiden, he started to kind of fall apart. He started to have louder and more violent tantrums, regressing into areas where he used to throw tantrums (like figuring out what to wear) and regressing in his relationship with Damien. There was a lot of fighting. All the time fighting. 

 

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Now, I know Aiden has always needed a lot of my attention, so I gave it to him. I had solo time with him every day and gave him lots of ways to vent his pent up emotions physically. When it came to the fighting, I attempted to sportscast their relationship, but it was clear it was deteriorating. Damien was now initiating a lot more aggressive behaviour he was learning from Aiden, and that was stressful for us too.

We were at the point where our time at home was spent with Aiden not playing anything but instead spending his whole time roughhousing or picking on Damien or provoking him in some way (taking his toy, baiting him, etc). He didn’t seem able to play on his own or with Damien, and as the summer progressed he became more unhappy. Things he enjoyed, like hiking, were now a cause for tantrums.

I’ll be honest, I was very worried. And tired. Well, when September came, Aiden should have started Kindergarten. Instead, our routine consists of more play time with neighbourhood kids (also out of school, but no longer in camps or travelling) and regular long playdates with one of his best buddies, who is with us part of 3 days a week. And you know what? Aiden is so much better. Having someone to play with (other than me or Damien) regularly has filled a void that must have been eating at Aiden. He’s playing with his toys, he antagonizes Damien less, and even the time we do spend without friends, at home or even hiking again!, is met with far less random screaming. He’s back to himself again. 

What this has taught me is that Aiden needs his space. He needs regular socialization with other kids away from me and away from Damien. He needs that complete independence and peer socialization that I simply cannot give him as much as he obviously needs. It’s not perfect, he’s still thrown some epic tantrums in the past two weeks, but those have been short bursts and the overall grumpiness has faded. 

I have seen the difference in just two weeks. Aiden is happier. He even engages with Damien in much more productive and loving ways. Like this:

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Sometimes as parents we feel very helpless. I was beginning to feel that way about this situation. I am glad that it has had a resolution, at least for now, and that it makes sense. And I am SO happy to see Aiden happy again!

Bowen Island: Day Tripping from Vancouver

Despite the fact that I have lived in Vancouver for most of my life, I had never been to Bowen Island. A couple of weeks ago, we decided to check that off our Summer bucket list with a last-minute day trip. We walked on the ferry with almost no planning, arriving on Bowen in need of coffee and some idea of what to do with 2 kids. In this post, I’ll outline some ways you can enjoy Day Tripping to Bowen Island with Kids.

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A Day Trip on Bowen Island with Kids: What to Do

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  1. Walk on the Ferry - Although you won’t be able to explore the whole island, you can certainly spend a whole day on Bowen without a car. By walking on the ferry, you save yourself time (and money). Grab a map of Bowen while on the ferry.
  2. Go for a Hike - all the resources I read suggested the a hike to Killarney Lake (pictured above) from the ferry terminal only takes about 45 minutes and is very kid-friendly. It’s not, if your kids are 5 and 2. Although we did walk to the lake, there was a lot of grumbling and unhappy faces. Plus, you also have to walk back. There wasn’t anything kid-friendly at the lake, so it was a bit of a let-down. This trail map gives you an idea of the paths and times. Instead, I would suggest you head partway up the trails to see the fish ladder / small Bridal Veil Falls, then continue on the trail until you see the sign for the Community School. This makes for a great loop and our next tip. (Note: the hatchery on the way to Killarney Lake may sound tempting, but it is not much to look at)
  3. Play at the school playground which rests at the top of Mount Gardner Road. This is (I believe from the signs) the exit from the cross-path near the fish ladder, and the main road takes you back down to the ferry terminal / shops. 
  4. Plan transit if you want to see anything beyond the ferry terminal shops, and have small kids, plan to take transit. There are some hills and the distances between areas are not as close as they seem.
  5. For older kids, take bikes if you want to explore further, and have kids who are capable bikers, you can bike along many of the trails
  6. Play at the beach if you go South (left if you’re facing away from the ferry terminal – see map), you can take the boardwalk to a nice picnic area and beach at the marina. There’s also a trail to a viewpoint (which we didn’t know about). The kids spent a lot of time searching for rocks and treasures here, though I would not recommend it for swimming. Other beaches are apparently nice for swimming.
  7. Enjoy laid-back dining According to locals, the best shops are all right at the main strip near the ferry,  though up in Artisan Square (15-minute adult-speed walk uphill or bus trip) there are other options such as Artisan Eats. Near the ferry terminal are options such as Tuscany Pizza (more upscale, quite delicious) and the Snug Cafe (delicious pastries, lunch looked good!)
  8. Fill up on treats! Really, what is a day trip without treats. There is a super cute candy shop, ice cream, and even gourmet chocolates. And don’t forget PIE! Who can forget pie? You must eat or take home something from the Lime and Moon Pie Company, located on the pier just at the ferry terminal

Since we went to the lake (bad idea) and the kids were exhausted and hungry, we hitched a ride back into town for lunch. Well, I had to walk since Damien was sleeping in the Ergo. We never got to visit the playground, but it looked great!

I think now that we know more about Bowen, our next trip will be even better! Hope you can learn from some of our mistakes and subsequent research!

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What You Can Learn From a Lemonade Stand

Yesterday we set up a Lemonade Stand in the park. This was one of the last items on my Summer 2014 bucket list and I figured with the extended-Summer-turned-Kindergarten-homeschooling fiasco (which I won’t comment on, except to say I support the teachers), I decided now would be a good time to set up shop. We chose, of course, the most dreary cold day of the week, but it did warm up while we were there.

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We set up shop with homemade lemonade (lemons, lemon peel, sugar & water – lots of it!)

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While Damien napped, Aiden and his buddy Zayden created the signs. I’m of the “less direction is more” artistic philosophy, as you can see. Joined by some more friends, the kids set up shop and started selling. They were a bit nervous at first, except for Damien who was happy to yell either “Lemonade Time!!” or complete gibberish at passers by, but quickly got into the act. They even started running through the park to tell people taking different paths about our lemonade stand.

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I didn’t want this lemonade stand to be all about profit. The kids don’t understand the value of money yet and, even then, I think we should take the opportunities presented to teach our kids about saving and giving, not just spending. I took inspiration from The Lemonade Stand with the concept of Spending, Saving, and Sharing. 

The Greater Vancouver Food Bank was an obvious choice for our charity, since food is something kids can understand. I initially thought buying food would help them relate to the value of a dollar, but the Food Bank is able to purchase $3 in groceries for every $1 donated, so monetary donations go further. I printed off an picture of what $60 in groceries can buy, just to give them a better ‘feeling’ of the relation of money to food.

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In the end, we received $69 from our Lemonade Stand. Today, the boys sat down and learned about money. We sorted the coins, counted the coins, added up each boys’ stack, and learned about the difference in value of each coin as it relates to a dollar. After that, I asked the boys how much they wanted to ‘Share’ with the Food Bank. Not having a grasp of the value of money, their instinct was to give almost all of it. We opted to give 50% ($35) to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank, then split the remaining 50% between the 3 oldest kids. 

We all took a walk to the corner store to mail the donation then partake in our ‘Spend’ activity, which was to buy a treat for each of them and their younger sibling (who helped). 

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Discussions were had, but not really understood, about how much to spend vs save from their bags. In the end, we steered them towards more inexpensive choices (lollipops or ring pops), and the rest they took home to save for a toy for another day. Each older sibling was asked to share part of their earnings with their younger sibling, since they helped too. 

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This turned out to be an amazing experience for all involved. The kids loved selling the lemonade and were so excited to count the money and go for their treat. They were very proud of themselves, as they should be, and I think they learned a lot in the process – about money and charity as well as about their own ability to be confident and courteous and helpful. 

In future years, we could expand on this with the idea of ‘production costs’ too ;)