With two very active little boys, there’s not much “break” to Spring Break. Two weeks off school is necessary and great, but it did throw a wrench into a routine I felt we were all finally getting used to. I struggled to fit my work time in, but we did not struggle to create new memories.
We went to the cottage. Twice. The first weekend (the first trip for the kids!), we discovered a leak (yay!) and our pump broke (yay!), but we had glorious sunshine. The second weekend, which originally looked like it was going to be nicer, wasn’t. Still, we went. We just didn’t stay long. It was cloudy but less chaotic. We now have a huge pile of odd sticks, shells and sea glass. Pinterest to the rescue!
We had a kid-free weekend to celebrate our 9th wedding anniversary (which is coming up in 2 weeks). We went to Nita Lake Lodge in Whistler. Why not just go to the cottage without the kids? First, we LOVE it at Nita Lake. Second, I scored a deal on a Facebook moms group! It felt so good to be lazy, get a massage and eat amazing food.
We spent a lot of time outside going to some favourite local parks, meeting with friends, or just chilling in the sun with scooters and bikes and sidewalk chalk.
We went to our favourite activity spots, namely the Aquarium, Science World and Maplewood Farm. These are always the top requests when we have a full day off!
We threw in some last-minute fun! To top it off, we drove back from Whistler and decided to treat the kids to a visit to the PlayDome. I hadn’t been willing to take both kids myself mid-week, but I am SO glad we went. They both had a blast!
So, was it relaxing? Sometimes. You know, if you don’t count the unexpected leaks and things breaking and rain and ongoing frustrations in trying to find a boat. But, you know, if you forget about those things… then yes!
This year, our Christmas was the most relaxed it has been since the kids were born. Both boys were excited about Christmas and Santa, loved all the events we went to, and suffered very few tantrums. The boys are at an age where things (events, social gatherings) are definitely getting easier!
We did a lot during the Christmas season. My extended family only celebrates on Christmas Day, so the rest of Christmas is spent with our more immediate family (which includes the two grandmas). As Aiden was keen to always bring up, we first celebrated Hanukkah, with candles and even some chocolates and borrowed dreidels for Aiden’s class.
During the month of December, we did a lot: the Shipbuilders Christmas Market several times, the Vancouver Christmas Market for the first time, Bright Nights at Stanley Park, the Polar Express, Canyon Lights, The Holiday Hi-Light Festival, Scuba Claus at the Aquarium, and more. For me, Christmas is about these memories we create as a family, at events, watching movies or even just driving around to see the lights. These are the moments that make Christmas special.
On Christmas Day, we opened presents and, despite our efforts, still ended up purchasing too much. Apparently Damien would have been happy with only some chocolate (as he repeatedly exclaimed during opening his stocking, “This is not chocolate! Where the chocolate?”), but loved his keyboard.
Aiden was in more of a rush this year, pushing himself and Damien to keep opening, though Damien was content to slow down and play and eat instead. But with Aiden’s insistence, they kept looking for “more presents!”, a key indicator that we gave them too much!
Despite all that, there was a lot of gratitude this year and a lot of great play from some well-thought out presents. The boys had a great day, visiting family, connecting, and even eating (which is rare at big meals!). A wonderful year of memories.
How was Christmas for you?!
Every year, I pick out one (ok, sometimes two) special ornaments for myself. I love a Christmas tree that reflects memories, not just a co-ordinated grouping of ornaments. In the past, I’d purchased things I like, but since becoming a parent I also made purchases that reflect memories with my children. Last year, for example, I found a sparkly steam train that serves as a reminder to me of Aiden’s many-year-long love of trains.
This year, we are starting a new tradition. Thanks to some keen shopping from my mom, the boys each received their own ornament this year. These ornaments are theirs to keep. When they one day move out, they will have several years’ worth of special ornaments to start their own traditions with.
I have a few of my childhood ornaments on my tree already and they are very special to me. I hope this tradition brings them many years of joy in the future as they grow up.
Also, this? I’ll never forget this:
We rode the Polar Express run by the West Coast Railway for our third time. This was, by far, our most enjoyable year, though that had as much to do with planning as with the age of our children. This year, we rode the train at 2pm, which allowed us to fully enjoy the activities in the Roundhouse after the train ride, while still preserving the illusion of “arriving” at the North Pole.
Though Aiden is not as obsessed with The Polar Express as he was in the two previous years, he did still enjoy the entire trip. His face lit up when the conductor came by and when the child actors came in pretending to be the children from the movie. Very nice addition to the experience and one we did not expect at all. Aiden literally glowed! He was also beside himself with excitement to tour the interior of the engine that mimics the real Polar Express:
The next bonus was the child-led controls in the mini train area, which was a highlight for Aiden. He was mad we had to move on when Damien lost interest, but that was our only low point in the night.
Each year the experience gets better and I am so happy it’s a part of our holiday traditions! Damien also loved riding a moving train, even though he’s not as immersed in the Polar Express culture.
This year, I managed to get both kids into their PJs (I wavered and gave them their Christmas Eve PJs early, since SO CUTE!) and planned it all better, to have two layers of PJs to avoid the cold. This year Aiden was interested in wearing his PJs, so that was a bonus. He didn’t want them last year and the previous year he only consented to wear the top. Finally, after years of struggling to find them matching PJs (who knew it was so hard), I purchased a matching set (2 months in advance, let me tell you). Huzzah!
Aiden and Damien each wrote their letters to Santa today.
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.
In Aiden’s case, this was actually his second letter to Santa. A couple of weeks ago he independently created this:
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…