Friday, April 3, 2009

Off to the park - yay!

On the first spring-like day last week, I took the opportunity to take the kids for a walk to a nearby park. What would usually take 10 mins took us about half an hour because Kira wanted to walk. I couldn't deny her that opportunity, because despite a little bit of a wind, it was a gorgeous day, the kind we had been waiting for all winter long.

When we got to the park, we were the only ones there! So, it was Kira's kingdom. Of course, her all-time favourite thing in the world is swinging, so she was on the swing for quite some time. Calvin ventured over to the slide and I was pleasantly surprised to see him climb and slide down unassisted (see video below). He was so proud of himself. He kept doing it over and over and over again.

I didn't get shots of the other activities, but Kira eventually made it to the slide, the seesaw, the "merry-go-round" (I don't actually know what it's called but that's what she calls it), and the play house. It's one of the older parks in the neighbourhood (Jason Park in Candiac), but a gem of a place because there is lots of shade during the summertime, and a good variety of play structures.

Looking forward to a lot of outdoor play time this spring / summer / fall!!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Parents and Kids Fair

Sometimes I really don't know why I do this to myself, but I made the decision to take my kids to the Parents and Kids Fair at Place Bonaventure again this year. I say this because I've been there before with both kids and so I knew what I was getting myself into. A crowded hall filled with mommies (some daddies), a million strollers, and of course, the many, many babies and toddlers. I was humming and haa-ing about it, ready to talk myself out of it, but then last night my cousin (in-law) Lisa called to say she would like to go, and a friend of mine e-mailed to say let's try to meet up. Friends and company are motivation enough, so I decided to go.

Last night was a blur because very little sleep was to be had. Somehow I got myself out the door by 9:10am with the car packed, nothing forgotten, not even my brain. Or, so I thought!

I parked my car a little bit far, under Place Ville-Marie. If you go, please make a note to park as close as you can to the fair, because the walk from PVM to Place Bonaventure was a really long one with Kira and I walking while I pushed Calvin in the stroller. [Note to self: toddler's pace is 5 times slower than my own. Duh!] I arrived later than hoped for, but still close to the 10am opening. Lisa beat me there. I made it just in time to dash under the lineup dividers (don't know what you call them - you know, the things that kind of hang there off posts to keep the crowds in their proper line) to pass Lisa some cash. She was about to pay admission and was missing 50 cents!

This was Lisa's first baby fair. She's expecting her first baby in 3.5 weeks. Here she is with my kids (this photo was taken around noon, when Calvin was passed out already):

Lots to see and do, mommies! Many, many exhibitors with everything from clothing, books, toys, pacifiers, slings, diapers (cloth and disposable), bottles, pumps, hair clips, photographers, RESPs, book clubs, information kiosks on breastfeeding and programs, etc. There was a food section that promoted organic food, yogourts, ice cream / sorbets, purées, rice crackers, etc. We made a brief stop there to snack. Lots of favourite stores such as: Mère et Mousses (they give you a coupon for 15% off), Bummis, Clément, Maman Kangarou, Béké Bobo. Some did smart marketing by attracting the kids to them! A shop named Anaya Enfants had a cuddly big sheep out to greet little visitors, and Kira was taken by her. She hugged the sheep about a half dozen times in all.

She was also very friendly to Santa Claus, which - trust me - is a first! Santa Claus was at the fair promoting the Village Père Noel in Val-David. Lisa turned to me and said "Hey, I recognize him!" I was thinking "Umm, that's Santa Claus. Everyone recognizes him!" but she swore it was the same Santa that she saw up at the Village a couple of years back. :)

A great diversion for kids is the sandbox. Kira took no time getting out of her socks and shoes to play in there. It was perfect timing because Calvin was in the mood for a nursing. Once she was in though, I wasn't sure how I was going to get Kira out of there. Luckily, after about 10 mins, she said: "Pee-pee, mommy!" [Note to self: Make sure to fill child with fluids when you want to get her out of an activity.]

My friend Ly-na was there selling her beautiful hairclips through Angel Lily. If you have a little girl, check out this website and Ly-na's stall at the fair. They're affordable, adorable, and best of all they actually stay in the hair! And if you subscribe to her e-mail distribution list, she's got great promotions all the time!

Just next to Angel Lily is Baby Burrito, another mom-run business by a fellow Candiac mommy. Lianne is a talented designer who produces everything from slings (both my kids lived in slings until they could walk - too bad I didn't know about Baby Burrito back then!), to blankets, changing pads, sleep sacks, hats, and "kimono" (well, actually they are more like jimbei, but that's the Japanese side of me talking, haha!). Beautiful, earthy designs, and organic fabrics available for some products. My kiddos were lucky enough to take part in a recent photo shoot at Lianne's home,which you can read a bit about in her blog. Funny how the whole referral system works, because Tanya (awesome photographer and mom) referred my kids to Lianne. Meanwhile, Tanya was referred to Lianne by Ly-na, who I referred to Tanya for photos last year. Confused? Anyway, let me just say this: the referral system works! :)
Here is Lianne showing Lisa how to wear a sling.

My only big criticism of this event is the many, many stairs everywhere which make it a pain get in and out of the hall. Although there are supposed to be Scouts there to help, I didn't see any. There was a shortage of ramps or signage to stroller-friendly routes. [Note to mommies: If you go, take an umbrella stroller over the classic stroller, in case you want or need to carry it up some stairs.]

We were out of there by around noon, which was perfect. It was getting to be a real zoo in there. I'm not one for navigating through crowds. Stopped by the food court for lunch, where a chocolate milk box cost $1.50 and I had to get 2 of course, because Calvin insisted, and then when presented with it, didn't drink from it. [Note to self: Don't forget to pack beverage from home.] Kira got tomato sauce all over her white top. [Do I really need a note to self here? Really now, how smart was that of me to leave home without bibs and to dress my child in white?] By the time we left to go back to the parking lot, I felt both sorry for and proud of Kira, who walked the entire way without complaining. What a trooper. She passed out soon after getting into the car, and Calvin fell asleep minutes after.

If you venture out to Place Bonaventure this weekend, I hope some of my little notes help you out! Write me back a note / comment if you go!

Mother Goose Rhyme Time

Above is a photo of Kira holding Mother Goose, and sitting with Marie-Lyne and Laurel, the 2 animators of Mother Goose Rhyme Time. Sadly, we took part in our final session just last week. But we fully enjoyed this experience! (Calvin would have been in the shot as well, but he kept running over to me while I tried to take the photo. Toddlers - what can you do, right?)

When I was pregnant with Calvin, I was fortunate enough to have found a fantastic activity here on the South Shore, that seemed like it was created just for my little Kira! Sponsored by the South Shore Reading Council, it was held at the time in the basement of a beautiful little church in Lemoyne. The venue has since changed (to an elementary school in Greenfield Park), but the environment remains a wonderful one to actively engage little bodies and minds in a joy of reading, learning, playing, and singing together.

Mother Goose Rhyme time takes place once a week on Thursday mornings, and it is an English-language activity. Its popularity has grown tremendously and so there is a waiting list to join / participate. Each day upon arrival, the atmosphere is down to earth and relaxed. The babies / toddlers engage in some free play, and the mommies chat. Then we start with a welcoming song where a stuffed Mother Goose is passed around as we learn each others' names. There are rhymes, chants, songs (sometimes with descriptive actions, sometimes with baby bounced on our laps), and the occasional stand-up or jump-up song. This is followed by some free play, some healthy snacks and juice for the little ones (tea is even served for the mommies!), and an opportunity for the babies to engage with their mommies, with other babies, or with toys / books. Then an animator tells a story which is then re-told by us moms (to encourage the oral tradition of storytelling, not only through books). And finally, some marching songs, some lullabies, and goodbye to all. All this in 75 minutes!

This activity is so well-organized, engaging, and fun! And best (and most incredible) of all, it is completely free! We were surprised to be presented on the last day of the session, with a bag full of books for each child, provided by the Born to Read organization.

I've been reading daily to Kira since she was an infant and to this day, she love, love, loves books! Now that she's 3 and a half years old, she felt a bit out of sorts in this room filled with babies, so I opted not to join again for the coming session. However, I am filled with gratitude for having had the opportunity to take part in this activity with both of my kids. Calvin is 16 months old now, and although he doesn't realize it yet, this experience is going to continue to shape him in a positive way. If he grows to love books even half as much as Kira does, I'm destined to raise 2 scholars!