I absolutely love Christmas. I always have been a big fan of holidays of any kind but my spirits always soar around Christmas. I love spending weeks finding the perfect gifts for people, sometimes making them or buying them. Stocking stuffers are my favourite thing to buy – I often pick things up all through the year in anticipation! I love spending the time to carefully wrap presents, adorning them with something personal be it a homemade ornament, homemade gift tags or homemade paper – I’ve done all variations before. Now that I’m a mom, I love that my kids can share in my joy for the season.
Although Damien was too young to appreciate most of our adventures (except the Stanley Park Bright Nights Train, he loved that!!), Aiden was really into Christmas this year. Granted, there was an unhealthy obsession with chocolate that had to be moderated (advent calendar!), he was really into the magic of Christmas. We baked cookies, made crafts almost daily, went on a variety of adventures (Polar Express, Bright Nights, Capilano Suspension, Park & Tilford Lights, The Magic of Santa theatre), watched movies, read books, sang songs & listened to music, and generally talked about Christmas a great deal. He was very interested in how Santa made presents and, appropriate to his obsession with The Polar Express, how said train got to the North Pole and what it did the rest of the year.
We managed to avoid the Santa Question yet again, though it was a close call. Aiden is very inquisitive and it was clear some answers were hard for him to accept – though he loved the idea of magic! In all honesty, we’re pretty blunt about things being either real or pretend in our house, since Aiden is very sensitive to suggestion and very analytical (plus, it suits our parenting). To say that all magic doesn’t exist except Santa is a little weird – so, we’ll re-assess next year. Again.
Aiden loved Christmas day – opening his presents (and helping with everyone else’s gifts) and being with family. I wish we had more parties, actually, since it is so nice to have the excuse to share our joy with those we love. Aiden was happy with his presents (which mostly ended up being things like trains and cars with some games, crafts & dinosaurs too) and he is already asking about when Christmas will come back!
Don’t they look cute? Ok, we have a better photo of them in this outfit, but it’s not uploaded yet. Plus, the whole Christmas PJ thing was kind of a gong show – I put in an order on Gap for PJs only to realize a few days before Christmas that the PJs must have sold out as I confirmed my purchase (had some other stuff on there), so I never realized I didn’t have them! They were blue with penguins, the perfect matching-yet-not-too-Christmas-themed look I was going for. Oh well – next year! These ones ended up being cute, even if they were quite roomy for my thin guys!
For the second year in a row, we boarded the Polar Express out of Squamish-based West Coast Railway Association. The experience was mostly the same, though 15-minutes longer on the train ride. The conductor on the ride was amazing this time around and they really upped the fantasy factor with small details such as the “spirit” walking the aisle. To draw out the experience, the cookie and hot chocolate were served separately this year, which I liked. We had both Oma and Babby there, which really made the experience fun for our boys.
Although I love the whole experience, it is still a little slow for the young ones since the train does a lot of track switching and doesn’t travel very far. Aiden was a little disappointed that the locomotive was not steam-powered and that it was not snowing, like in the book / movie. He would notice those things, right? We also made the mistake of not immediately lining up for Santa and then having to wait an hour for our visit. Oh well, it meant skipping the mall Santa visit.
Damien woke from a nap about 10 seconds before this photo was taken! Although I put them in PJs, as per the suggestion for the Polar Express adventure, I didn’t think about using the cute PJs for the photo. Oh well, next year!
I also think it’s crazy how different parenting a second child is! We never would have taken Aiden to The Polar Express at this age, or Squamish either. Damien actually is ok in his car seat during the day, so he stayed awake for all but the last 2 minutes of the trip (grr, we hoped he’d nap). He napped twice while we were at The Polar Express and we all went out for dinner before our trip home. Aiden fell asleep almost instantly at around 5:30 but Damien cried the whole way home. Boo for that.
Merry Christmas from our home to yours! As we settle down with some eggnog, watching tv with the fire blazing and the Christmas tree lit up with presents below, I can’t help but feel truly thankful and content for the year we’ve had. We are truly lucky to have two wonderful, healthy boys, amazing friends and family and the opportunity to live the life we do.
May you have a wonderful and happy holidays!
We met with Sarah again for some more wonderful family portraits this November. My goal was to get some family photos that we could frame on our wall, as soon as Damien could sit. Well, he began solidly sitting just a couple of days before our photoshoot!
Despite the fact that Aiden was less-than-cooperative during the shoot (he was very tired and very much a 3-year-old), Sarah managed to capture some beautiful moments with our family. We did the photoshoot down by the Shipbuilders Yard in North Vancouver, doing some outdoor shots in the sun and also some indoor shots, since I wanted some sweater-free poses of the boys for our wall. I can’t wait to see how they look framed!
For our stay in Victoria, we stayed at the beautiful Delta Ocean Pointe Resort, just a 5 minute walk outside the city centre (across a little bridge or a water taxi trip). The resort is huge with a breathtaking view of the harbour. We had ocean view rooms with views like this in the day:
At night, the parliament building would light up, so that was even more amazing. Aiden loved to watch the float planes landing and the water taxis passing by.
We had two rooms at the hotel: one for Mom, Dad & Damien and one for Babby & Aiden. Each room came with a king size bed, two arm chairs and an ingenious desk/luggage rack. All of the rooms are very new and crisp looking after renovations earlier this year, so it felt very luxurious. Each room had some nice perks for the technology-savvy traveler including power sockets at the height of each side table, amazing wireless (we were able to stream tv from our home media server!) and an integrated section at the desk with power strip, HDMI, VGA, Ethernet, audio. We were very impressed.
The beds were amazing – it made us realize we need a new mattress at home! As you can see Damien loved spending some playtime on our bed, though he slept in a crib supplied by the hotel.
When we arrived at the hotel, the kids were given gift bags, which is all a part of the family travel program they have in place. Each child was made to feel very welcome at the hotel, from the moment they arrived. In addition to the gift bags, the hotel provided a list of family activities in Victoria as well as at the hotel. We didn’t partake of the storytime at the hotel (it was too late for our little ones), but that was really neat to hear about. As you can see, Aiden also enjoyed some time in the hotel pool, which overlooks the harbour:
The only downside of the new renovations was the lack of a bathtub for the kids’ baths. As you can see, we made do; each child had his bath in the sink! And, though I often use hotel baths, I did enjoy the rain shower faucet in the extra-large walk-in shower.
Aiden slept on a little cot in the other room. He was very excited about his little bed and thankfully does not seem to remember that he fell out of it on his first night! He did well sleeping there the next night – without a nap, he didn’t toss enough to loosen his blankets.
We greatly enjoyed our trip to the Delta Ocean Pointe – it was the perfect location for us. The walk was completely doable and we even took the water taxi back one afternoon, so that was a nice extra adventure. Being on the other side of the harbour also made it possible to take a beautiful ocean-side walk to Spinnakers for dinner! We dined at the hotel restaurant for 2 breakfasts and 1 dinner – review of that to come.
Check out all our photos of the Delta Ocean Pointe Resort here.
Disclosure: we received a discount on both rooms; reviews are my own.