Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Three-seater Bathroom Stall

I didn't get a picture of the other seats in this stall, but the bathroom at the Cross Iron Mills mall in Balzac has a big toilet, a kid-size toilet and then this child jump seat hanging from the wall. When I took Scott in I couldn't help but try Katie in it, even though it was unnecessary, and then I laughed out loud at the sight of this forlorn wallflower.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Calendar Lied to Us

Scott has been following the calendar pretty closely, and he knows where the big dates fall. For example, he knows his birthday is on the next page -- "the one with the convertible on it" (this year's calendar is classic cars). He also knows that his birthday is in the spring.

Last week I pointed out that it said "first day of spring" on the calendar. At first Scott was really excited, but when I asked him why there was still snow outside he was confused. Of course, winter is supposed to be snowy white and spring is supposed to be green with life. The view out our window looked just as wintry as every day for the last few months, and did not reconcile with the concept of spring that Scott had been taught.

I tried to explain to him that while the calendar does say that it is spring now, sometimes the warmer spring weather still comes a bit late. He didn't quite follow my explanation, concluding instead that the calendar was wrong and it would be spring once the snow melted or once we turned it to his birthday page. Essentially, he thinks the calendar is either lying or incompetent.

In the meantime, he takes advantage of the slightly warmer conditions to help shovel the snow outside. He has found that the packed snow on the driveway is difficult to deal with, so he often goes onto the lawn where the snow is softer and the shoveling is easier. He called me up at work today to tell me that there are now three paths outside:
1) to the car
2) to the big tree
3) to the middle tree

This is good, because sometime I might need to get out to that tree.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Quirky Little Katie

(From Jan 9, 2011)

Katie is not just a cutie, she is also quirky. In honour of her first birthday I compiled this list of the the funny little things that she does that make her so endearing to us:

The one-shoulder shrug (often with hand on hip)
Downward-facing dog pose
pbtbtbtbt motorboat sound with her tongue sticking out
Vigorous sniffing through her wrinkled-up nose

Pulling her blanket out of her crib whenever she needs it
Pulling her blanket onto her head or rubbing it on her face

Wearing her blanket like a scarf
Wearing glasses/goggles whenever she finds them

Laying her head in my hands
Laying her head down on anything soft (pillows, blankets, people)

Trying to steal Scott's baby all the time
rolling a ball and crawling after it
Just doing her own thing
Pretending to colour like Scott (using anything that looks like a marker)

Crawling around with a marker in her mouth
Wanting to be walked everywhere
Loves the Mickey plane

Learning to knee-walk rather than try regular walking
(Keeping the knee-walk step intact when learning to walk -- right foot always leads)
Dancing to anything she hears
The "Katie Baby" song
Playing the piano
Playing shake-and-go racers with gusto
Clapping and celebrating all the time
Hugs and Snuggles

Patting us on the back when we hug her
First-class sleeper!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Beach Family

We had a party at church with a beach theme to help chase away the winter blues. We pulled out our souvenir t-shirts from Hawaii and posed for a shot in front of the artificial turf. Now if our kids ever ask us to take them to Hawaii, we can pull out this picture and say that we already took them.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Remember On 8 I Used a Spoon?

You know those people who talk about how great/smart/talented their kids are, and it starts to sound like their kid is the next great hope for humanity? Yeah, well I'm about to sound like those people in a minute.

Since Scott was born, we've been watching to see what talents stick out. At first, it seemed like his caution shrouded most of his capability and we had no idea what he might be good at because he held back all the time. He wasn't a kid that started hitting milestones (like walking, talking, alphabet, singing, etc) particularly early. When he did learn to talk, he seemed fairly expressive, but it was tough to really tell, since he mostly preferred to make silly sound effects and sprint around to fight bad guys (me).

Then lately he's been into numbers. He loves to count everything, and he loves to watch the calendar. He has his own system for referring to the days. He calls today "this day", and refers to all previous and future dates by number (he doesn't use "tomorrow" or "yesterday" much). Such references can be hard to understand if he throws them at you out of context, as he did with this one he asked of R recently:

"Remember on 8 I used a spoon?"

It took R a few moments to understand that he was referring to a day the previous week when he chose to eat something with a spoon -- a fairly inconsequential event to be filed away in the Captain's Log. She gets very similar queries from him each day, reminding her about various events that correspond to dates on the calendar -- like how many times he beat her in a one-on-one game of Checkers or Trouble two days previous.

Speaking of Trouble, our house has been a hive of gaming activity the last few months as we've picked up a collection of board games and card games to give us new and interactive things to do with Scott, since we tend to be his primary playmates. Our list of games that we play has evolved as follows:

Go Fish
Crazy Eights
Mousetrap (this one really launched the trend)
Shark Tale
3D Snakes & Ladders
Cranium (board only, no cards)
Guess Who?

We picked up Mousetrap second-hand a few weeks ago, wondering if he could handle it, since the rating was above his age. Three days later, he had us playing it with him several times every day, every chance he got. Katie's nap became gaming time and he quickly memorized the instructions on spaces like "take 3 pieces of cheese from the player with the most." He also liked to count all his pieces of cheese.

At first, his gameplay was amateur. Just gaining a grasp of the game mechanics was all he could handle, and we would have to help him along with strategy so that he wouldn't lose every time. Checkers has been particularly challenging for him to move beyond mechanics to strategy, since things change once you get to the other end and you upgrade to kings. However, we've seen his gaming strategy evolving too. It is fairly evident when we play Trouble, since that is one of the few board games we play that is not based entirely on chance -- Snakes & Ladders is light on strategy.

I think Snakes & Ladders really reinforced his counting skills, because the 3D gameboard is impossible to navigate unless you can count up to 70 -- there are so many ladders and snakes in the way that you have to rely on the numbers. At first, Scott would just follow a memorized path to the ladder at square 18 and climb it regardless whether he landed there. But that didn't work when he played with his cousin A who is in grade one and actually knew how to count. He eventually revised his play to follow all the numbers -- all the way to 70.

Sure, kids learn to count. But he also seems to be doing simple arithmetic in his head. While playing Skipbo two weeks ago:

Scott: Two and three makes five.
D: that's right. What does two and one make?
S: I don't know... Twenty-one!

True. I can't argue with that.

For St. Patrick's Day we got a box of Lucky Charms cereal that had a simple board game on the back. Sitting at the table, he announced to us that there were 55 spaces. A few days later, I quizzed him at the Sunday family dinner:

D: Scott, how many spaces are on your Lucky Charms game?"
S: 55.
D: How many would there be if there were 2 more on there?
S: 57.
D: What about if you had 55 and you took 3 away? Would you still have 55?
S: No.
D: How many would you have?
S: 52.

I don't know much about how kids learn, so maybe this is pretty typical, but regardless, watching your child learn things like this is like witnessing a miracle. It amazing how quickly their minds work.

Yes, my son is the next great hope for humanity.
His Skipbo talents will bring world peace.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Spring Training

With spring only a week away, it's time to start thinking about playing outside. Scott and I took down the christmas lights in the front yard, and then we strayed into the back yard, where he discovered a bunch of his toys peeking out from the melting snow. Inspired by his slide and wagon, he cracked open the shed to get his t-ball set out.

He got to play the part of batter, which was fortunate for him because there was still 10 inches of wet snow back there and he was in shoes, not boots. I played the part of outfielder. I was in shoes -- unfortunate for me.

After enduring the endless onslaught of bitter cold and hacking illness, it wonderful to get this glimpse of spring.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Training Wheels Test Drive

Last year Scott got a tricycle for his birthday (which he loved to ride), but its time for him to upgrade to a "two-wheel bike". We plan to get him a bike, but we weren't sure what size would work. Last night I arranged a test-drive without letting him know what was coming for his birthday.

While R was out for the evening, I took the kids to the mall to hang out at the play place, but I parked outside Sport Chek so that we'd have to walk by the hockey gear, baseball bats and bikes to get into the mall. Without any prompting from me, Scott immediately began investigating the bike selection and soon he was cruising the aisles on a pink-tassled steed.

Eventually, we found some more manly options and he surrendered the tassle-bike to baby sis, who pushed it into various displays to her delight. Passers-by could not resist the cuteness and stopped to watch the proceedings and generally admire my fabulous children (a wistful older couple stayed for several minutes, clearly nostalgic for days gone by).

We had to ride the bikes twice (on the way in and on the way out) and after round #2 Scott decided, "Dad, we should get these bikes." I explained to him that we shouldn't, because there is still so much snow at our house that we wouldn't be able to ride them, so we should just leave them at the mall.

Don't tell him that he's getting the bike. It's a surprise.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Surfer Babe Spots Winter Whale

Sometimes (when it's not insanely cold) R takes Scotty outside to play in the snow during Katie's afternoon nap. On one particulaly sunny day in January, Katie got to join in on the fun. She put on her tiny pink boots, her white pom-pom toque, and her puffy jacket. However, she didn't have any snowpants, so R improvised by sliding Scotty's swimming trunks over some fleece pants. The trunks were long enough to do the trick, and they fit in perfectly at the park next to the purple ride-on whale.

Katie was quite interested in experiencing snow at the park, choosing to poke at some ice on the bench for a long time. This attitude was a stark contrast to the first few minutes she had been outside, when she didn't want to touch anything -- presumably because it all seemed so cold.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Abominable Snowman Giant

Although this winter has been brutally cold overall, there have been a few days nice enough to take the kids outside to play. R snapped some pictures of the first snowman of the season. It looks absolutely enormous next to Scott, but you have to keep in mind that he's not much more than 3 feet tall.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

At Least 3 Feet of Air

A guy at work showed this video to me and we both agreed that it was one of the finest downhill biking videos you can find. It's not just that it's a technical course that makes it exciting, it's WHERE the course is that makes it so interesting.

VCA 2010 RACE RUN from changoman on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011