Monday, November 16, 2009

Butterfly birthday bash - Happy 4th, Kira!

My days are numbered where I can actually have any input into the themes of my kids' activities. By next year I'm quite sure that like all other kids her age, Kira will be wanting to have princess-themed everything! So, I wanted to try a theme party that was girly but not sponsored by Disney or Nickelodeon. Kira loves butterflies, and it's even part of her preschool's theme song ("Papillon bleu"). I also thought back to last year's beautiful butterfly cupcakes, and immediately thought of putting butterfly wings into each girl's loot bag. Voila, a theme was born!

Now that Kira is starting to make real friends through playgroup and preschool, making a guest list was a real challenge! We wanted to invite everyone, but ended up narrowing it down to just girls. Otherwise, there would have been 20 kids invited for sure! With the 8 girls who arrived, plus their siblings, plus the parents, we had 25 guests in our house. Wow!

The party was scheduled to last only 2 hours (it actually lasted 3), and I wanted it to be action-packed! As the girls arrived, they started up a tissue paper butterfly craft.

Food was served from early on, beginning with simple hors d'oeuvres and ending with a buffet of: lasagna, 4 choices of homemade pizzas, chili, chicken nuggets, mini hot dogs, salad, and drinks. Mark worked on the incredible menu - what would I do without him? This is the only photo of the food I could find, which hardly does the feast any justice:

I hounded our local party store for 2 weeks to make sure I could get a butterfly pinata. Haha, I know you're thinking "psycho party planning woman!" Well, could it be more beautiful and colourful than this? Success! The kids loved it, although it was seemingly impossible to break...

until finally the loot poured out and it was a grab for candy, chocolate, stickers, and confetti! Too slow with the camera... here is the end of the pinata grab. I'm still finding confetti around the house 10 days later.

Have I mentioned my friend Antonietta lately? She designed and made this gorgeous cake, all chocolate inside. Seriously, she is the best cake maker this end of town! Everyone helped blow out the candles.

We rushed through the gift opening and then let everyone hang out and play until they were ready to leave. Here's an impromptu princess parade that made its way up the stairs, led by mom Penny. Gotta love these moments!

Thanks to Ly-na, Karen and Heidi for sending me photos. I didn't manage to snap too many on my own that day. Here's an awesome shot of the gorgeous mommy and daughter pair, Karen & Kailyn.

Hey, would you believe that when I ventured downstairs to clean up after the guests left, the basement playroom was tidy? You moms rock! Thank you!

Whew! Made it through another year. I hear that from the 5th birthday onward, the parents drop the kids off and pick them up at the end of the party! Yikes! Gotta start planning! :)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Baby Calvin is no longer a baby! Happy 2nd!

I had to change my blog description the other day because I no longer have a baby and a toddler. They are a toddler and a preschooler! The days are long, and yet whenever a milestone hits, it seems like the time is just flying!

Calvin celebrated his 2nd birthday a day before his sister's 4th, but his party was the following week (after the dust settled from Kira's birthday extravaganza). The party was held during a weekday when Kira was at preschool, so I could focus all my attention on the birthday boy and his guests. We had four 2 year olds and their moms over for the glorified playdate, which included hanging out, playing "together" (actually, ignoring each other while playing with their respective toys - haha! Gotta love 2 year olds), and eating. It was also an excuse for me to hang out and see the moms, some of whom I hadn't had a chance to see in awhile, or to talk to for longer than 3 minutes at a time. Since Calvin didn't have a clue that it was even his birthday, I didn't feel the need to organize a big bash. So instead, I selected kids who were all within weeks of Calvin's age - cool, dontcha think? ;)

Oops, I didn't snap any pics of the kids playing. All these shots are at the table (the only time they were all in one place, really). Daddy made a special guest appearance when he dropped in during his lunch hour. A definite perk to working 5 minutes from home!

Once again, Antonietta did an awesome job with the cake! I requested car cupcakes, and look what I got! These are CHOCOLATE cars (white chocolate filled with fudge! How sinful is that!?) on top of vanilla cupcakes. I asked for vanilla cupcakes thinking that would make less of a mess than chocolate. Haha, who was I kidding? These are 2 year olds!

Here are some more random shots of Calvin's guests.

Thanks to all of Calvin's friends for coming to our home! I hope you'll all be lifelong friends! And, may this year be one of "terrific two's" (and not "terrible two's") for you and your mommies!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A fall trip to Ottawa

We try to make the 2-hour drive to Ottawa every few months to see my mom, and hope that in between our visits she will come and see us. Considering how close we live to each other, we somehow only manage to see each other about 6 times a year. This is due in part to the fact that my mom makes periodic trips to Japan that last anywhere from 1 to 2 months. My mom adores her only grandkids, and she gave herself the name "Oma". Sounds German, doesn't it? :) Well, my mom hates the word "grandma" or "obaasama" in reference to herself, so she came up with Oma ("oh" means "big" or "grand" in Japanese + "mama" which of course means "mom"). The kids took to it quickly, and although they don't understand much Japanese they love our visits to or from Oma. This is mostly because they are so spoiled by her attention. :)

My mom was never a hands-on kind of active mom. She would colour, read a book, or play Japanese card games with us. But you would never catch her throwing a ball, playing hide-and-go-seek, or even high-fiving us for that matter! So, it's really cute watching her with the kids because I know they're going to try to make her run around, pick them up, sing, etc. She just laughs it off. Here's Oma looking on as the kids colour a bit:

Here are Kira and her daddy relaxing a bit. Kira is watching cartoons on the media player, while Daddy watches his show on his new iPod. Both of them are wearing headphones, completely oblivious of the outside world and Mommy snapping this photo:

During our weekend in Ottawa, we took some time for ohakamaeri (visiting the grave) of my dad. I can't believe this December will mark 10 years since his passing already. His ashes are buried at Beechwood Cemetery, a gorgeous place with a team of botanists looking after a fantastic garden. The walkway leading to my father's grave has a little bridge overlooking a pond (filled with fish in the spring / summer), and lovely scenery in all directions. From my father's grave you can see through the trees to Parliament Hill. The cemetery is so well-kept that it is now an official tourist site, which is a nice distinction to have I suppose, but I also think those spirits living there just want to be left in peace with the occasional visit from their loved ones.

I take the kids to see my dad's grave at least once a year. This was the first year that Kira had questions for me. "Is your daddy in here?" "Is he in Heaven?" "Why did he get sick?" "What's his name?" It was a bit difficult getting into it all and answering all of her questions, but at the same time I was happy that she was curious enough to ask all these great questions about a man she never met. At one point I felt a lump in my throat but when I looked up and saw my mom watching, I found the strength to smile and keep talking about my papa and how he would have loved to have met Kira.

This was Calvin's 2nd visit to grandpa Mori's grave.

On a lighter note, it was my second time taking Kira to see the Wiggles! I didn't manage to snag many great shots, but here are a couple of the stage, and one of Kira in her seat. Quite a production, but then again this is one of the richest entertaining groups in the world. I really enjoy the Wiggles. They all seem like down-to-earth guys, the tunes are cute and catchy, and these are real people, not folks in character costumes (like, for example, Barney or the Backyardigans).

Another quality visit to my hometown!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Coccinelle et diable!

It was a week of Halloween for us. Our house has been decorated since the beginning of October, and Kira has been bringing home Halloween-themed crafts for the past couple of weeks. What a build-up to this wildly popular holiday! The above photo is Kira with her decorated pumpkin from school.

We attended a Halloween party at Home Start (Premiers Pas) in Lemoyne on Thursday, where the kids were treated to colouring, storytime, a pinata, and treats.

Driving home from taiko practice on Saturday, I was apprehensive about whether Kira would get a chance to trick-or-treat this year! The trees were blowing sideways, and it was raining. Oh no!

By 4pm the wind hadn't subsided, so we took the kids to a local mall to trick-or-treat indoors a bit. It was over quite quickly, but at least we could say we went in case the weather didn't improve later on! Here's a pic of the kids going around to various merchants.

Once at home, we shut our lights long enough to eat a quick supper, and then took a peek outside. No more rain, and only a bit of wind, so Kira was ready to go! We went with Kira's 2nd cousins Jillian and Spencer. Kira was so excited and wanted to go to house after house, but once her pumpkin basket was full I insisted we return home. Seriously, she can't possibly get through her loot before next Halloween!

Here are my dressed up munchkins waiting for trick-or-treaters to come to our house. Calvin had an awesome time plopping treats into people's bags. I can't wait to take BOTH kids out next year!

Monday, November 2, 2009

So, the kids got vaccinated

We were sitting on the fence with the decision on whether to vaccinate or not. Finally, we decided to get the AH1N1 vaccination for our kids (and now we're sitting on the fence on whether or not we should go through it ourselves in a few weeks...)

I won't go through the details of our decision, since there are great divisions in personal beliefs which I completely respect each individual / family to make. We are periodic flu shot recipients as well, so it wasn't out of line with past behaviour, and we didn't do it out of panic regarding this pandemic.

I dropped Kira off at preschool and then drove by the vaccination site at 9am (the doors were scheduled to open at noon). There was already an hour-long lineup outside of the building. Yikes! By the time I picked Kira up, passed by my friend's house, and made it to the site with her, it was 11:45 and we were in a helluva long lineup. Here's a pic of the lineup just in front of us. Keep in mind, this is behind the building (so, in other words, the line extended all along the front and side of the building before winding behind it and to the view you see below):

Luckily, Kira could hang out with her friend Jaiden. As you can see in this past post, Kira and Jaiden are old friends! They amused and entertained each other, much to our (fellow mommy Vicki and I) amusement and amazement, for almost the entire 5 hour wait. Yup, that's right - 5 hours! Vicki and I packed accordingly and tried to stretch out our goodies and surprises, including Halloween loot, cheese sticks, juice, a media player, and a game console. The kids found imaginative ways to pass their time, including questioning big kids' vandalistic behaviour (why are they breaking the walls, mommy?!); running in circles; jumping over and through puddles; pulling and hanging off my knapsack while I'm wearing it; taking turns sitting in the strollers; making faces; telling jokes; etc... Here, our kids discover a pothole which they claim houses sharks that eat you up so watch out!

Here is Kira immersed in Jaiden's Leapster, a video game console for kids:

Calvin managed to fit in a 1.5 hour nap, and so did Vicki's almost year-old baby Zachary. The shots themselves were quick and almost painless. A few tears and cries in the moment were soon forgotten. Happy mom Vicki with Zachary here:

Success for another long outing! Yeah! Fingers crossed for everyone's good health this season!