Parenting 2.0

Archive for September 2011

As has been proven many times, Niko is definitely good with the letter “N”. Afterall, “No!” is a regular in his limited, but ever expanding repertoire of vocabulary. Why then, does he insist on calling himself “Kiko”? For some reason when Niko talks about himself, we only hear the following:

Me: Who’s in this picture, Niko?

Niko: Kiko!

Or when asserting his independence.

Niko: Kiko do it! Kiko do it!

I’m not sure what it is, but when it comes to his name the “N” certainly is elusive. He must be harbouring his “N” power for all the emphatic and clearly stated “NO!”s that fly around our house on a seemingly regular weekly daily hourly basis.

Each year our anniversary falls on the same weekend as the annual regatta at my parents’ cottage. The regatta not only brings together all the cottagers on the lake, but also turns into a family reunion of sorts – beckoning to my entire family. Basically, if you’re in the country, you go to the regatta. So while, it is nice to see the fam together on such a festive occasion, it doesn’t leave much room for a private session of wining and dining to celebrate another year of wedded harmony.

Truth be told, we always get around to celebrating, but this year for whatever reason our celebration of love did not get around to being formally recognized until this past weekend: almost two months after the fact. And I’m not sure that you can call our attempt at celebrating too formal.

Why wouldn’t a celebration with our son, be a good idea? We figured the three of us could celebrate together and we would go to an all you can eat sushi restaurant. We knew sushi wouldn’t really be the little guy’s favourite dinner-du-jour, so we even brought back up mac’n’cheese and a few other delicacies for his royal palette. This is how it went…

After about 5 minutes of anniversary bliss, Niko confidently announced “Done! Done!” and started pushing his high chair away from the table. He was “Done!” before our drinks even arrived at the table. So, Borys and I scarfed down as much sushi as possible – me sticking to the cooked stuff, seeing as I’m cooking my own little bun right now, and Borys trying to be more adventuresome with some raw selections. But really, we didn’t have time to enjoy any particular flavour, as they all melded together in a frenzy of wasabi, soy sauce, sushi rolls and tempura. Niko did a little dabbling himself: teryaki chicken, calamari, scallops, etc. But each time after about one bite, came the imminent and self-assured “Done! Done!”.

Borys and I were determined to get our money’s worth, so we ordered two rounds of tantalizing items, but all we really remember was shoving it all down as fast as possible, while trying to convince our little guest to hang on a little longer. Yes, we had cars for him to play with, but he can only drive them around and pile them on top of each other so many times before he’s “Done! Done!” with that too.

In the end it was an anniversary celebration to remember. One where we hardly had a chance to look at each other, much less converse. One where we ended up with stomach aches due to our feeding frenzy. And one where we decided that next year, we’d probably celebrate with the just the two of us!

Happy Anniversary Borys! Eight years and counting and I love you so much!

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Done! Done!

After everyone had left the party, Lena stayed on for some extended playtime. She and Niko had a great time giggling and chasing each other, playing in the playhouse and taunting Frasier. These pictures tell their own story…

Note: For more on Nikolena, see Niko’s First Slumber Party, Baby Paparazzi, and/or Baby Swings.

Daddy’s take on the pictures…

I’ve been experimenting with cooking. This week on the menu? Chicken Club Salad, courtesy of my culinary guide extraordinaire, Betty Crocker. And when it comes to supper, Niko usually eats a version of what we’re eating with slight (or major) modifications. For example, this salad was on a bed of baby spinach, so Niko’s version was hold the spinach (he’s had some gagging-on-spinach-issues in the recent past, hence the spinach hiatus). Anyway, the dressing for this salad was loaded with cooked red onions – another ingredient from which he is shielded. However, when I looked over at his plate I noticed that some renegades had made their way into his dinner. As I picked them off his plate, I wondered aloud: “How did these little guys sneak there way onto your plate?” The rest of the dinner conversation went something like this:

Borys: I put them there.

Me: Oh. I don’t think he really likes onions.

Niko all the while is watching and listening, as I put the spare onions on the edge of my plate.

Niko: Mine. Mine onions. Mine onions.

To which I responded by slipping a mock look of mild exasperation at my lovely hubby, and begrudgingly passed the onions back over to his royal highness – aka Niko-man.

At this point, even though the onions had remained untouched when they were originally on his plate, Niko’s interest is now spiked and he pops them in his mouth.

And his response? Chew. Slowly chew. Then he spat them out into his tiny toddler hand, looked over at me, and reached out with his half-chewed and slobbery handful and said: “Dirt. Dirt.”

Personally, I liked the onions better when they sat on the edge of my plate, sans slobber and sans bite marks. Ah well…

Round two of the cupcakes was a great success!

Moist Cake? Check!

Homemade Icing? Check!

A Happy Birthday-Toddler? Check! (Except for that part where he reached out to touch the candle wax after blowing them out. “Ouch Mama”!)

These pics tell the story…

And voila! Niko’s Birthday Cake is ready: complete with homemade Cars decor!

Happy Birthday to Niko, Happy Birthday to you…

Time to blow out the candles. Only one to go. He’d been practicing all week!

“Ouch Mama! HOT!”, he exclaimed after reaching out to touch the wick.

Mmm…Cake! Or should I say… Mmm… Icing (because that’s what he enjoyed the most out of his two cupcakes!) Guess the homemade icing recipe was all worth it!

Preface: I know there have been a lot of 2-year-old-party posts. But he only turns 2 once, right? But with my cake-baking abilities, it`s sort of like it happened twice.

Niko certainly had a good time at his party! Did he know the party was for him? I think so. Did he understand why he was getting so many presents? I am not sure. Did he happily share all his new toys with his friends? I won’t tell his secrets. But truth be told, I was really impressed with all the kids at the party. They seemed to have a great time, and there were no fights or tears or any of the other things you might expect at a party where people are just learning the meaning of sharing.

Actually the only tears I saw were the ones from one of the little ladies and she realized she was leaving. And those tears seemed to be somewhat contagious, because as she started another little girl did too, and then Niko. Wouldn’t it have been great if all seven pairs of little lungs started in at once? Thank goodness that didn’t happen. But pair that melody with the random popping of the dollar store helium balloons, and it certainly made for a soundtrack to remember.

Note: Each year I like to get a pic of Niko and his buds at his party. Click here to see the year one rendition, which definitely shows how much easier it is to get two year olds to sit still for a photo, than one year olds.

Preparing for a toddler party takes a little brain power: things like, food, entertainment and loot bags are probably at the top of the list (at least they were at the top of mine.) And when party day comes around there are even more last minute preparations. For Niko’s party we wanted to keep it pretty simple. We planned on ordering pizza and pretty much just letting the kids have a free-for-all when they got here. Seeing as each of the little darlings would be chaperoned by his/her parents free play seemed like the easiest plan for us. Plus really, how long can a two year old focus on organized games? (That is, if there were to be any, which there weren’t.)

So all was in place. Party day had arrived and I set out the snacks (veggies and dip, a fruit tray and a bowl of BBQ chips) on the table. Once they were in place I continued to do other little last minute preparations, not really paying too much attention to the birthday boy, but still aware that he was lurking on the premises. When I finally did get a clear shot of his activities, I found him on his tippy-toes reaching for the chips, and having had some success at it. Chips and chip crumbs littered the table and had left tell-tale signs on his cheeks and hands.

Ah well, it’s was his party, and I might as well let him enjoy it in his own way. Did it really matter that the snacks had been snacked on before the guests arrived? No. So what did I do? I helped him up into an adult size chair, got him a plate and let him dig in. In the words of Marie Antoinette: Let them eat cake! Or chips. Whatever the case may be, I guess.

A baker I am not. While I AM honing my culinary skills, it’s more in the cooking department than the baking one. Anyway, seeing as it was Niko’s birthday I figured I might as well make a cake – or at least cupcakes. And seeing as my baking skills are not 100% reliable (Last year’s birthday cake broke in two when I took it out of the pan – and my baking confidence fell, with the crumbs, to the floor. Thank goodness for the mending powers of icing!), I figured I better make a trial batch. Yes, trial batch! (Even though the Duncan Hines box instructions are pretty clear, you just never know.)

So this year, Niko’s actual birthday fell before his party, giving me the perfect opportunity to test out my baking powers. Things I realized:

1) Cupcakes don’t break when taken out of the tray! Woot! Woot!

2) Box instructions, make for dang tasty cake!

3) Homemade icing is the way to go.

Post round one of baking and prior to round two, I had a conversation with my long-time (since Grade 4) friend Alison. She’s one of those Molly Homemaker types, that makes all housework, cooking, baking etc. seem like a snap. For her daughter’s second birthday she made Elmo cupcakes, fondant and all. So my cake box recipe is a stark contrast to her baking resume. Our conversation went sort of like this…

Alison: Are you making a cake for Niko’s birthday?

Me: Yup, cupcakes. And I made a trial batch today!

A: Trial batch? What? Is it homemade?

Me: No, but with the whole cake-breaking incident last year, I just want to be sure I know what I’m doing.

A: But you’re making your own icing right?

Me: No. Store bought baby!

A: Come on! Icing’s so easy and homemade tastes way better.

Me: Who are you my mother? (Note 1: If you’re reading this Mom, please know that this line was meant with the utmost love and affection. Plus there’s that joke about how everything really is –  just so easy!)

Anyway, lo and behold, after a quick search of Canadian Living’s Butter Icing recipe I rallied my confidence and in the infinite wisdom of that little train that could I said, “I think I can. I think I can.”

Note 2: Please don’t get me wrong. Alison and I are very good friends and her berating of my baking was all in good fun. Plus it motivated me to up the ante on little Niko’s cupcakes. And in the end, it was all worth it!

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One of Niko’s newfound joys is lining up his cars side by side, for a race. He puts them super close together and then gleefully exclaims “Race! Race!” Or, he may switch it up and line them up in a row, one behind the other, and then exclaim “Train! Train!”.

Today is Niko’s second birthday. And of course, Borys and I couldn’t help but reminisce about the day he was born and the weeks that followed. He was born around 8am, weighing in at 5lb 15oz. I had full labour that was followed up by a c-section, and once the epidural was in place it was a very painless birth. Borys watched over the surgical sheet as they pulled Niko out and placed him into my arms. What a precious moment! I’ll never forget that one, that’s for sure.

So today, the morning went like this. Niko woke us up with what has become his usual morning bellow: “Mama! Daddy!” After some time passes and he realizes his demands are not being met instantly. “Daaaadeeee! Maaaaaamaaaa! Open door!” And this can go on for about five minutes or so, sometimes resulting in tears of frustration and sometimes with just a continuation of the aforementioned requests, until Borys and I can get our sleepy heads down the hall.

Seeing as he’s still in his crib, he’s pretty well confined until we rescue him and begin the day. Not that he has to be in his crib, we tried out his bed a couple of weekends ago, but we took the tears of worry that followed (from Niko, not me) as clear indications he wasn’t quite ready. So now his room is adorned with both a bed and a crib: we read stories on the bed and he sleeps in the crib. Even though each night before we make the transfer he happily feigns napping in the bed: head on pillow, eyes closed and the word “Nap” softly repeating from his sleepy mouth. I think we’ll try out the bed again this weekend. Ultimately, we’d like to make the transition before the arrival of his baby sister this winter.  Afterall, they say it’s easier to make transitions before any major life changes, such as the birth of a sibling.

Anyway, tonight we will celebrate his second birthday. Cupcakes, presents and candles are on the menu, followed by his birthday party this weekend. Happy birthday big guy! We love you with all our hearts!


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