Thursday, July 9, 2009

Celebrating Emily's 3rd birthday

Summer birthday parties are always so hard to organize because of people who are vacationing, busy weekends and the like. My birthday is in July and so I have memories of my childhood birthdays being spent mostly with family. It was rare for me to have a party with my friends since they were all usually gone on vacations with their families. I shouldn't say this, but I remember trying my best to "fill" my parties by calling everyone in my phonebook, so often it would be a party full of B-listers. Not people I would regularly hang out with, but people who I knew at some level. Maybe they just felt sorry for me and came hoping for a good loot bag. But I digress...

Kira and Calvin were invited to celebrate their friend Emily's 3rd birthday on Monday afternoon. The timing was perfect because the party was geared to stay-at-home moms and our kids, so no having to negotiate busy weekend schedules. It was scheduled from 1pm to 3pm, and boy was it ever 2 hours of action-packed fun! Emily plus 7 of her friends. A bit of outdoor play upon arrival until the clouds loomed a bit too close.

The kids got settled in inside and got busy with the toys. Then came the cake. What an awesome idea for a birthday cake! Heidi made a flower out of cupcakes. Check this out! And no mess or hassle in cutting it, either. Brilliant!

Okay, now that we're all sugared up, time to open the gifts!

Mums & kids:

Oops, I'd better put a photo of my own kids in here! Sadly, this is the only one I managed to take:

Pin the Blanket on the Iggle-Piggle:

Okay now mommies, check out this loot bag! It includes a homemade colouring book with crayons, homemade play-dough in an awesome plastic sealed storage container, a homemade (okay, so it's kind of pirated, oops!) DVD of In the Night Garden, cookies with a homemade souvenir / thank you label, bubbles, and the pièce de résistance...

A homemade Tombliboo puppet (seriously, Heidi made one of these for each of the kids!):

What an awesome party it was! Thank you Heidi, for organizing such a fun gathering! And Happy Birthday Emily!! I'm sure she was pooped and elated by the end of the festivities!

Meanwhile, back at home Kira couldn't wait to dig into the play-dough and get creative!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A visit to the aunties (in Toronto!)

We hadn't been to Toronto in years, so when the opportunity arose, we decided last-minute to make the trek out by car last weekend. We were actually supposed to spend the weekend at our annual family camping retreat. But with impending thunderstorms all weekend, many family members backed out and opted to stay at home with the assurance of a dry bed to sleep in.

We didn't want to miss the opportunity to see the kids' aunties Val (my sister in-law) and Gayle, so with an invitation to their home, we quickly decided to go!

With a nice supper break and leg-stretch, it took 7 hours total from door to door. With 2 toddlers in the car, there were some hair-pulling moments. All in all, though, not so bad. Calvin pointed out every "toot-toot" he saw. Kira was relatively easy to entertain with DVDs and drawing materials. I practiced driving Standard in our VW Golf, and actually felt that I got the hang of it somewhat!

The kids really enjoyed themselves. I don't know what else to say, really. Calvin had never been to Toronto, and he continued to forge a bond with his aunties all weekend. Val and Gayle were great hosts - very laid back and always positive. The kids went to bed at midnight each night, and Kira was only too happy to sleep in the big King bed between her aunties.

We also got to visit my aunt Kazuko in Mississauga (and her family, my uncle Terry and cousin Michael). I completely forgot to pull out the camera at the end of the night (uncle Terry and Michael joined us only a short while before we left their home), but here is a photo of my auntie taken by Kira. Kinda artsy, don't you think?

Kira also took this great pic of Calvin and I, which I'm loving!

The highlight of our weekend was our Saturday outing to High Park, where we went to with a delicious picnic prepared by Val & Gayle. Kira got to climb and play in a structure shaped like a castle, Calvin got to ride a "toot-toot" train, and most importantly everyone spent a beautiful day outdoors and enjoying the day in each other's company. Here are some snapshots from the day.

Thanks, Val & Gayle, and Ikeda family, for a memorable trip to Toronto. We'll have to make it there a bit more often in the future, won't we?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Baby signing time!

I am so proud of the fact that both of my kids are starting out communication through baby sign language. Kira mastered at least 30 signs and for some reason I just never caught it on video! She started signing at around 14 months old, and it really helped her communication with me (she could tell me not only if she was hungry or thirsty, but if she wanted to drink water, milk or juice). Calvin delivered his first sign ("more") at 11 months and hasn't looked back. He can sign and verbalize his thoughts to me, which I love! Here are a few videos of some of his vocabulary. I just kind of threw words at him from the top of my head, so this is really just a sampling. I had to take a video though, before this stage passed like it did with Kira. These videos were actually taken in April. Since then, Calvin is verbalizing more and I'll try to catch some video of that too. :)

Some awesome signing DVDs are available through Baby Signing Time. They were recommended to me through my friend Rebecca, and my kids love them. Kira, who had forgotten all her signs, watched them over and over again for their entertainment value, and can now sign in American Sign Language again. Let me tell you, these are actual ASL signs, not just made-up gestures for babies.

If you're interested in taking lessons in Montreal and area, contact Amy at Talking Hands. She's a qualified instructor and a great resource person for mommies! If you're interested in babywearing and Elimination Communication (EC-ing), Amy is also your go-to person in Montreal.

I'm breathing a sigh of relief just because I actually finally documented and posted something about baby signing. Whew! That's one more action that makes my conscience rest a bit for the night.