Why I’m Withdrawing Aiden from Summer Camp

As soon as Summer registrations opened, I signed Aiden up for 3 summer camps. I spent hours researching what would be most fun for him and where it was located and how it would fit in with our schedule. I decided on one week of Pedalheads, one week at a sports class (focused on the ‘ball’ related sports) and one week of a preschool-ish class whose theme for the week was “science,” which seemed fun. 

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Aiden did one week of Pedalheads in Lynn Valley, from 9:30 to 12 and one week of sports in Deep Cove from 9:30 to 11:30. He loved both of these summer camps. His teachers would tell me things like how enthusiastic he was, what a leader he was, how great he was at supporting the younger kids, how much he loved trying new things. Generally, stuff that made me feel pretty awesome about my won. 

BUT… I hated the summer camps. After rushing to drop Aiden off, I would have to drag Damien away from there, and take him somewhere to play. I could come home, but in both instances that was kind of far away and I wanted to minimize driving far, since I had to return for pick up and long drives put Damien to sleep. So, that meant I packed snack and lunch for Damien for all of these days and had to occupy him longer at parks when he was tired and grumpy. Then I had to ensure he didn’t fall asleep before we picked up Aiden. It was exhausting and I hated having my activities dictated by location. 

With preschool, I never had to worry about drop off and pick up (my husband did pick-up), and I had an extra 30-60 minutes when I could work. For summer camps, I didn’t get any of those benefits and the whole thing was more work for me, which is exactly the opposite of what I need right now.

So, I’m pulling Aiden out of his third summer camp. It was the furthest away and honestly the most inconvenient time. The kids have more fun when they are together, and more fun equals an easier time for me.

Next year, Damien will be old enough for solo summer camps. And Aiden will be old enough for some cooler camps he was too young for this year. So, I’m not anti-summer camp. But I am against putting only one kid in summer camp for no obvious reason. ;)

Pedalheads: Great, But Missing a Level

The first week of Aiden’s summer vacation, after he finished preschool, we registered him for a Pedalheads camp. Pedalheads is a local bike program for kids age 2-12.

Last year we considered putting Aiden in Pedalheads to give him more confidence on his Strider balance bike, since he didn’t really get it for a long time, but thankfully he progressed and became more confident. Thanks to that confidence, when we gave him a bike at Christmas, it really wasn’t a major challenge to teach him to ride it. The bike was a little too big at the time, but he picked up his skills very quickly and by the time his Pedalheads class came around, he was already far past the level 2 I had registered him for. 

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Thankfully, Aiden was in a split class, with level 2/3 together, and he quickly showed he was the most advanced of the group there. In the class, which was held in a gravel field, the kids were taught how to start and stop safely, how to navigate obstacles, how to ride in single file, and even some basic hand signals. Aiden’s confidence grew a lot during the week, with his starts getting faster, his steering tighter, but mostly his confidence was where we saw the improvement. And he loved the class. 

When he finished the Level 3 class, his instructor said he was for sure ready for Level 4, which focuses on road safety. Unfortunately, Level 4 requires that children be turning 6 by the end of the calendar year, so he’s not able to register until next summer. Huge bummer there, and a bit of a programming oversight. That said, I walked away from that last class with some tips on how we can teach Aiden road safety. 

This past weekend, I purchased a bike of my own, allowing us to ride as a family. For years, I thought I would never be able to bike again (thanks to many injuries), but I am happy with my Brodie Pax bike, which is super comfortable for me. So, while I would have happily put Aiden into a second Pedalheads class this summer to teach him road safety, I am happy with our new family riding solution and feel more confident that with a parent in front and in back, we’ll be able to teach him to ride the busy streets around us safely!

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 ;)