Don’t Ruin Pure Joy With Cameras

I was very proud of my Christmas tree this year. I absolutely love Christmas. In years past, I have been known to handmade and mail out all our Christmas cards and to hand-stamp or decorate my own wrapping paper. Of course, with kids, that’s not my reality right now. Still, I have a great double-sided wrapping paper (Costco!) that I use to co-ordinate my wrapping and I take extra time to add bows and small ornaments as special decor on some gifts. I love laying out the presents and arranging the stockings.

I know I’m crazy, but it makes me happy. 

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Last year, we were very excited about Christmas morning. Aiden was getting the cliche most-awesome-Christmas-morning-present ever, a new bike. We found one in his absolute favourite colour (turquoise) and had it ready for Christmas morning. Everyone was very excited. We had co-ordinated with my mom (Oma) to come over as soon as the kids woke, so she could witness their Christmas morning excitement and Aiden’s reaction to the bike. 

Cue Christmas morning and Aiden bounded out of bed and was ready to fly down the stairs when we said WAIT and asked him to wait until Oma came. He was restless and excited, but he waited. Then we had him wait until we got the cameras ready and tried to record his reaction to the bike. So of course this happened:

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Aiden came down the stairs wary and nervous, shying away from the camera. He barely looked at the bike, barely registered a reaction. 

We robbed him of his Christmas-morning joy. It’s a mistake I will never ever make again. This year, the cameras go away and instead we will have to remember these precious moments. We can record other parts of Christmas, but this moment? This excitement? It’s so fleeting and so precious. 

So, here’s my advice to you – let your child have their moment of joy. Remember it. Photograph them when they are having fun, but never force them to check their emotions just so you can record it for posterity. 

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!

Bright Nights 2013

As in years past, we paid a visit to Stanley Park for the Bright Nights Christmas Train. With over 3 million  lights, it’s always a fun visit, and this year they added a huge new reindeer with red and sparkly lights. Glorious. We arrived a little earlier than planned, so we ate some popcorn and viewed the lights, then lined up for our train – the highlight of the trip for our boys! 

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The theme of the train this year was Charlie Brown, so that was super cute for us parents, even if the kids didn’t understand the reference. The fact that they theme the train every year never ceases to amaze me. A job well done!

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And of course, you need a little drama! Damien was fussing with a cold all night, so he didn’t leave my arms. I attempted to hold him in the cute family portrait cut-out, not noticing that he was kicking Aiden in the head. Oops!

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Holiday Card 2013 from Minted

A few weeks ago, I shared with you the wonderful cards we had printed last year from Minted. I recently received our 2013 cards in the mail and I just had to share them with you! 

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The cards feature the wonderful photos by Sarah Jane Photography, as I featured in my last post, and let me tell you, it was no easy choice as to which pictures to use! As much as I love the full sized photo shots in some card designs, I could use just one photo when there were so many nice ones to choose from! The design I used is called Cherished.

The card design I chose had a ton of customizable colours and options – from the sayings to the envelopes and even the option to print addresses. I was really tempted by the new foil-pressed cards… maybe next year! I love that you can preview them! Aren’t they cute?!

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Family Photos 2013

The ActiveMama family recently did our annual photoshoot with Sarah Jane Photography, who has been taking our photos for a few years now. 

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We went down to Shipbuilder’s Square at the foot of Lonsdale again, since we found last year that it had the perfect mix of backdrops for our photos. It’s not busy, it has an urban feel, the view is great and there are no distractions (like parks or bodies of water) that cause whiny kids! While I really wanted to hit up a forested area, it’s so hard to find the right light in the shade of the trees. 

I couldn’t be more happy with the photos this year! Sarah did a great job capturing the kids in the chilly wind before they got too grumpy. Damien has some dermatitis on his face right now, which is worse in the cold, but Sarah did a good job clearing that out of the proofs. Thanks Sarah!

Check out all our photos here.