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.

14 Schweber SJP 0098 copy 2

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. 

Gifts guy

  • 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!

First Time Both Kids Loved the Snow

I have found that below age 2, snow and (my) kids don’t mix. Their reaction is basically something like “Why am I in all these layers and why is there wet stuff falling on me and I am COLD and I can’t move and my nose is running and WAAAAAH.”

IMG 2825IMG 2798

As with many ideas of parenting, the reality has not met with my expectation. I thought pulling a child in a sled would be so much fun! Ah, how I was wrong. Last year, we were able to entice Damien into the sleigh for a short amount of time, but this is the first year he has had FUN. Despite being sick. 

It’s moments like these that remind me how much easier parenting is getting. At least when it comes to something other than potty training. 

Family Photos for 2014

We had our family photos taken by Sarah Jane Photography again this year. She has taken our family photos for a few years (here is last year), always managing to capture our family with such lightness and joy. We left the photos a little late this year, due to colds / scratched faces / my hairdresser being away. Eventually, as with last year, we chose a frosty cold day to venture down to the Shipyards here in North Vancouver. We did our photos on a weekday, so I picked Aiden up from school and we went straight down to capture the hour of light before sunset. 

14 Schweber SJP 0167 copy 2

14 Schweber SJP 0033 copy 2

Though the photoshoot felt entirely chaotic – with kids running everywhere, facing different ways, whining or wanting to play rather than look at the camera, Sarah once again managed to capture some glorious shots. You’d never know it felt so chaotic. 

This year I have found that we have used our camera far less than in past years. Having 2 kids is just so much more chaotic and carrying around a large camera just seems too impractical most of the time. 

14 Schweber SJP 0006 copy 214 Schweber SJP 0221 copy 2

The discerning eye will notice that Damien is wearing the sweater Aiden had on last year, the shoes he wore 2 years ago and the pants he wore 3 years ago! Yep, hand me downs! Not to say we have no other clothes, but of the 8 pairs of jeans (yes) that Damien currently has, these ones are the most trim fitting and unique. And sweaters, he has a whole drawer, but I like my kids to wear solid colours without hoods in photos and the blue and green seemed more “gem-toned” and beautiful than the contrast a red (his other solid sweater) and green would have. So, there you go!

14 Schweber SJP 0236 copy 2

See the rest of the photos here.

Letters to Santa 2014

Aiden and Damien each wrote their letters to Santa today. 

IMG 3221

Aiden wrote, without help, “I want a helicopter and some cars and car ramp.” Damien wanted to say “candy” and “apple”, which were the ‘gifts’ he got from Santa at the mall when he went to visit. He doesn’t get the whole letter-writing thing yet, but it was cute. Apparently he drew Santa some raindrops.

IMG 3222

In Aiden’s case, this was actually his second letter to Santa. A couple of weeks ago he independently created this:

IMG 1587

Which not even he can read. He wrote it bottom up and kind of all over the place. What I understood was “I want the Polar Express and car. Like you Santa.” Otherwise, no idea. Feel free to chime in. 

Although I could have sent this, “Santa” was a little unsure of this letter. First off, he asked for the Polar Express all last year too up until the Fall, then didn’t ask again. He was sad he didn’t get it. For the record, he has a Polar Express, but it’s a piece of CRAP and fell apart quickly. He wanted a new one, plus the coaches and track. But we hesitated and even researched getting the large G-Scale version, but it’s SO expensive and not really for playing with. 

So, when he asked this year, it kind of felt like he was just repeating out of habit. Honestly, he rarely plays with trains anymore, so it didn’t seem the best option. In our house, Santa fills the stocking and buys one gift, so I wanted his letter to reflect something he really wanted. 

His new letter is better. But very reflective of the fact that Aiden doesn’t actually wish for… well… anything.

The car ramp is something he wants to like, but I know (he doesn’t) that it’s too limiting a way to play with cars. He likes to play with them on the floor. He purchased a car ramp with his birthday money (after I specifically did not get it for him) and never plays with it. I bought him a tiny expander piece in hopes that he will be inspired to create with it, rather than get a new one. Santa has a car for his stocking and the helicopter… well, he saw it at Lonsdale Quay so that’s where this item is coming from. He may play with it sometimes, but I’m not sure how much use it will get. Still, it’s a much cheaper Santa option! 

Now, here’s hoping that the store still has it in stock. There was only ONE left when we were there on Saturday…