Parenting 2.0

Archive for the ‘Let's Celebrate’ Category

Earlier in December when I asked Niko what he wanted to get Daddy, Dziadzio and Roman (family friend) for Christmas, it took me him a few seconds to decide. After a good 30 second think (where he actually went still and into quiet contemplation) he tentatively looked up at me and whispered “Snowman!” Pardon Niko? “Snowman!” Ok…

So a few days passed, and I broached the question again. And again, a good 30 second think produced the same answer: “Snowman!” So snowmen it was: snowman ornaments for Daddy and Dziadzio and a snowman candle for Roman. Niko helped me wrap the presents, which in true toddler style means he haphazardly crunched the paper up around the ornaments and candle, and considered his work done.

Then on Christmas Eve, as we were exchanging gifts, he walked up to Roman with his wrapped gift for him, and proclaimed “Roman! Candle! Candle!” Seems he’s still learning the art of keeping the present a secret, but at least he grasped the concept of giving! Too cute.

Note: These pics were taken just a few hours before Stella was born. First we had a traditional Polish style dinner – although this time I had a valid excuse for avoiding the frozen vodka shooters, then took a break to open presents. Throughout which I was having contractions and timing them on Roman’s watch. It was during the presents that I realized it was “go-time” and off to the hospital we went. Arriving at 8 p.m. and birthing her royal highness by 11:02. A very merry Christmas indeed!

When I was a kid I spent many a New Year’s Eve with my friends Graeme and Sarah. Forced together in a way, seeing as our parents were close friends and could be found celebrating together at one of their houses. But enjoying each others company nonetheless, and celebrating with takeout and board games. Woot! Woot!

During my teen years I spent my New Year’s Eves with my buddies. Desperately trying to hide my escapades from my parents, only succeeding about 50% of the time, and then probably ending up grounded by January 1. What a way to start off the year…

My 20s were much the same: spent ringing it in with close friends, usually at a bar. Sans the hiding from my parents part, and the only punishment to be received on the 1st (and maybe even the 2nd) was the lingering hangover as a telltale sign of the previous night’s adventures.

Now in my 30s, I’ve sort of come full circle. This year I was back to having plans with my friend Graeme: after 30 years our parents are still close friends and so are we, and we’ve randomly ended up in the same city. The one major difference being that 30 years later we’ve both gotten married and had two kids and are now forging the bonds of friendship between our offspring.

Anyway, the plan was a great one. One that appealed much to the side of me that had just popped out a baby a week ago. A plan that involved enjoying dinner at Graeme’s house (he’s a certified chef!) with board games to follow. If you can’t call that full circle, I’m not sure what is! Anyway, despite our best laid plans, Heather unfortunately came down with the flu and the whole plan was kiboshed.

So now Borys and I were left to our own devices and a toddler who was sadly going to miss the “par-tee”! Yes, Niko lamented the loss of our plans and couldn’t stop himself from crying and whining about not going to the “par-tee”. So, what else could we do, but convince him that the party at our place was going to be just as rockin’? I went ahead and made the hot artichoke dip I had planned to bring to Graeme and Heather‘s and assembled the cheese and fruit platter as well. Borys went out and bought party hats and blowers and we partied it up in our own way from around 4 – 8pm.

Niko had a great time (and truth be told, so did we) pigging out on the appetizers, bopping around in our party hats and ringing in the New Year with just the four of us – and Frasier of course. And Niko didn’t even seem to notice that the party hats said Happy Birthday instead of Happy New Year. Afterall, it was the best we could find on such short notice!

Happy New Year every0ne! Wishing you all the best for a happy and healthy 2012!

This year Niko’s pumped for Christmas and it’s the first time he actually understands (at least as much as a toddler can) what’s going on. He talks about Santa, presents, decorations, Christmas lights, Baby Jesus and Jingle Bells. He’s right in the thick of the Christmas spirit and it’s so cute to see. This weekend we attended a Santa pancake breakfast and Niko was delighted to meet the man in red. More so than last year, that’s for sure…

Christmas Delight (2011)

Christmas Fright (2010)

Turns out decorating the tree with a two year old proved a little more challenging than expected. Don’t get me wrong, Niko had a great time! But you know, I had this vision for the tree…

  • the tree will stand up straight
  • the tree will have an even balance of Christmas balls dispersed throughout
  • the tree will have lights that work

Niko had other plans. He couldn’t contain his excitement and was ripping around our house, with silver garland decorating his wee neck. He tore into ornament boxes (“Niko! Those are made of glass!”) and haphazardly placed them on the tree. Doesn’t he get that there’s a plan here? That there’s a semblance, an order, a procedure we follow when we decorate? Clearly not!

His vision was more like this:

  • Christmas balls will congregate in one area (namely about two feet off the ground and right within Niko’s reach and line of vision)
  • just as much tinsel/garland will be on the tree as will be scattered on the floor throughout the house
  • pull out all decorations at once and then have rip-roaring fun playing with the miniature Nativity Scene that is probably over 30 years old and has been handed down to me from my mother

The tree did get decorated though. Angel topper and all.


Start the Trimming…

Niko’s Strategic Placement

(Too Much?) Fun with the Nativity Angel

Helping Hands?

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When’s the best time to get a Christmas tree? I had been wondering, and was told about 2 weeks before Christmas.

So this weekend we set out for the Christmas tree corner not far from our house and selected the greenery that would grace our home for the Christmas season. When I was a kid we used to traipse through the forest, cut down our own tree, haul it over the snow in a sled, strap it onto our car, and then hoist it up in our living room.

Eventually, like maybe next year, I would like to do this with my little family as well. But for now, it’s the trees behind bars that get parole in our house for the duration of the holiday season.

PS – Despite the pics, I’m still Dreaming of a White Christmas…

I had been lamenting the fact that getting my annual Christmas photo of Niko, decked out in his Santa hat was proving challenging! But then…

Turns out all it took to get Niko into the Christmas spirit (and into his Santa hat) was a little friendly peer pressure from his buddy Eli.

Merry Christmas Li’l Santa. Merry Christmas Festive Fireman.

Anyway…these good pics missed the boat, as I have already printed and mailed off my Christmas cards. But hey…they still make a nice memory for the photo album!

Each year I enjoy sending Christmas cards to my friends and family. For the past few years, with Niko adorned in a Santa hat, I snapped some pics, and put them on the front of our Christmas card.

When he was a newborn, this was super easy. He was a willing, if unknowing, model and I got some really cute shots of him in the hat. Last year, there was a little resistance to the hat, but I still managed to get some good ones. This year, round three of the Niko-in-the-Santa hat shots, has not gone off smoothly. Each time I try to put the hat on his head, he rips it off in about 5 seconds saying “Niko, no wear Santa hat!” or something festive like that. If I try to coax him, encourage him, bribe him or use any of the other tactics I have in my parenting repertoire they only work to up the angst and the protest: perhaps even saying hello to some yelling and tears as he works himself up into a stubborn tizzy.

“Niko, why can’t you just understand that this is for the benefit of the Christmas spirit!

Just wear the damn Santa hat and enjoy the Christmas spirit!!! OK?!”

I guess time will tell what sort of cards we send out. But as each day passes and my camera remains void of any good Christmas photos, my dreams of round three are slowly being dashed.

But I’m not giving up just yet. Perhaps a sleeping version will do the trick…

Merry Christmas everyone! Or Bah, Humbug! – depending on your perspective.

Note: The only somewhat decent shots I got are when Niko is holding Frasier’s disgusting, well-loved and slobber filled chew toys. And they’re Halloween themed. Hmph! See below…

Get This Thing Off Me!

Christmas? Bah, Humbug!

Daddy Plays the Part of an ENTHUSIASTIC Role Model!

Come on Little Elf. Just Give it a Try!

Here’s an Improvement.

Getting Better…

And, We’re Back…

Hats off to the Christmas Spirit, Mama!

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The Christmas season is here, and Borys and I want Niko to be a part of the festivities as much as possible. I mean Christmas is just one day, but the season (at least according to the retail sector) starts the day after (or in some cases even a few days before – Booooo) Halloween. For us though, we really get into the swing of things a couple of weeks into November. After that it’s just gets too cold to put up the lights anyway… So for the sake of our hands and to actually have enjoyment in decorating the house, the lights go up midway through the month. And really Christmas is about celebrating not just that one day, but enjoying all the steps along the way. So yes, we want Niko to be part of the decorating, the giving, the baking, the music, the time together, and all the build up.

Last week we got around to getting our Christmas lights up, both outside and inside the house. And Niko had a ball helping us out in the best way he could. It’s funny, because he doesn’t really understand what Christmas day is, but he certainly likes to talk about Christmas:

“Kiss-miss lights on!”

“Santa comin’ down da chimney, bingin’ peasants?” (Peasants down the chimney? Niko, you’re too funny!)

“Kiss-miss music Jingle Bells.”

“Santa Ho ho ho.”

OK, so I can understand where he got the idea about the Christmas lights, afterall he helped us put them up. But I’ve never talked to him about Santa and the chimney or Jingle Bells. So who knows where he picked that up. Regardless, he is getting into the Christmas spirit – I’ll just try to steer him more towards the lights and the Jingle Bells part of it than the “gimme presents” (or peasants, whatever the case may be) version.

Helping Daddy

Using My Muscles

Whoa! Big Ladder

I’ll Push it up, Dad.

Almost Ready

Wow, That’s High!

Break Time

Back to Work

Life lessons from toddlers: little things make them so happy.

Just seeing all the pumpkins, not even buying one, was an exciting event in itself. And once we actually bought a pumpkin and brought it home, Niko excitedly viewed it out the window for days. Of course he had no idea what lie ahead – the gutting, carving and lighting of the Jack O’lantern. But in his two year old mind, just having a pumpkin in our yard was cause for daily glee, as well as seeing all the pumpkins scattered about the neighbourhood as we drove home from daycare. I’m not sure if you could say anticipation was building, because his realm of experience doesn’t allow for that, but definitely his excitement was mounting, as he noticed more and more pumpkins on people’s front porches and the odd ghost lingering around in a tree.

So pumpkin carving day arrived. We brought the pumpkin in and asked him what type of face we should carve on it: happy? sad? scary? Three times we asked him and three times he wanted a sad face. But Daddy vetoed that, saying Niko didn’t really know what he wanted and that he wanted Niko’s first Jack O’lantern experience to be a good one. So a happy face it became. Niko had a great time, gutting and watching the carving. The only glitch? Once he saw the candle he couldn’t resist blowing it out – as he’d done at his birthday party. So we re-lit it, turned out the lights and let the magic happen!

I’ll blow this thing out yet…

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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