Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween excitement and baking

Every year I carve a pumpkin to celebrate Halloween. Kids don't come by our place for candy because we are a gated complex and so we don't buy Halloween candy. I'm scared to watch horror movies and I feel like fireworks is a waste of money and unsafe so we don't do those either. We're somewhat anti-social, which means we don't have any cool friends to have a costume party and act wild with. I'm obviously too old to go trick-or-treating and so I never dress up in costume. To make matters worst, Jean-Louis is sort of anti-Halloween because in France, they just don't do anything for Halloween. So sadly, I only carve a pumpkin for Halloween. Why? I enjoy carving and I guess it makes me feel a bit better about being so lame during what used to be one of my favorite days of the year.

This year things have changed. We bought some fall foliage to display in the house. I'm throwing a small family Halloween party. We're taking Tristan trick-or-treating for the first time. We're also taking him to a public Halloween event. I carved pumpkins we purchased from our pumpkin patch trip. I baked lots this week, including Halloween cookies for the first time. Why? Because Tristan is old enough to enjoy these things now and because I have time. As a result, I am back to being excited about Halloween and I don't feel so lame anymore :) I don't get jealous of other people's twitpics of costumes, pumpkins, or cookies and cakes. I get to tweet the same stuff now! Plus, Halloween falls on a weekend this year. It's all awesome :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

StrongStart BC Centre and Neighborhood House

Last Thursday, we went to the Neighborhood House in South Burnaby. It was recommended to me from a friend I ran into at the Edmond's Community fair. She volunteers at the neighborhood house as an interpreter. The neighborhood houses are available for adults and children to socialize. Parent days are held every Tuesday and Thursdays from 9:30 to 11:30AM. Tristan and I can walk there in around 40 minutes. Yeah, it was quite far but the trip was worth it! The drop-ins are free for everyone and the kids get to play and learn in an environment much like daycare. They do collect membership fees for $5 a year and this allows you to receive newsletters, participate in a variety of programs, and attend annual general meetings.

I was surprised to learn that there was a schedule. There was play time, clean-up time, snacks were provided, reading, circle time with songs and reading etc. It was so much like daycare, except that the parents were there as well. There were two staff present and about a dozen children. We were served bananas, oranges, and crackers for our snack. We also had cups of water. All the plates and cups were provided. The playroom was very large and there was a lot of space in the hallway for stroller parking. There were lots of toys and they were all of good condition. Overall, it was much more than what I had expected :) The only downside is that it's quite far to walk and it would be a bit of a pain to walk if it rained a lot.

Today, we went to the StrongStart BC Centre at Stride Avenue Community School. It was a last minute decision because we were running very late for the Neighborhood House. I was planning to check out the StrongStart centre anyway and since it was close by, I decided we should just go there. To my surprise, the centre was very much like the neighborhood house. I think the neighborhood house had better toys but circle time was a lot more fun at the StrongStart centre. The room at the centre was smaller, there were a lot more kids, and there was only one staff on duty. During snack time, we were served grapes, apples, and animal cookies on paper towels. I notice there was a brital filter container of water but you would have to serve yourself. Some parents brought their own plates and cutlery. I had my own water so that was fine. Again, I didn't know that snack was provided. There was only a small sink and cleaning area and I noticed the floor was wet from all the kids washing their hands. In comparison, the neighborhood house had a full kitchen room.

Lucky for us, today the public health dental staff was at the community school and we were invited to get fluoride varnish for Tristan's teeth and have him examined by a hygienist. Apparently, these healthcare professionals travel from school to school so they were only there that day. We haven't brought Tristan into the dentist yet and I was definitely interested in having his teeth inspected. They were able to squeeze us into their appointment schedule so I filled out their consent form. The hygienist applauded us on brushing twice a day but when I mentioned we use Orajel because it can be swallowed, I got lectured on not using fluoride. She said that fluoride should be used right away when teething first starts. Only a pea-size toothpaste is needed on the toothbrush and that would be harmless to swallow. She also mentioned that Tristan should only be drinking from a cup now and that bottle sucking is not good for his teeth. Then she looked at his teeth and said that they looked good. She applied the flouride varnish on him and he was so good about it all. He didn't even move. I'm not sure why but he is surprisingly cooperative at these sorts of things. Every vaccination visit we've had, he doesn't move much either. We then walked away with a toothbrush and a sticker :)

I admit that the Neighborhood House has a better facility overall and even the families there were friendlier than the StrongStart centre we visited today. However, because of the convenience in location and availability of the StrongStart centre by us, we will likely go there more often. They are open Monday to Friday 9-12PM. Since they are located inside a school, they operate during school days. Tomorrow is Pro-D day for elementary students so the centre is also closed.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Our 1st pumpkin patch trip

A year ago, I remember being jealous of all the pictures other Twitter users were posting of their kids at the pumpkin patch. I actually didn't know much about pumpkin patches at all. Are they just pumpkin farms? I wanted to go last year but Tristan was not walking yet. I thought it would be more fun and less dirty if he was walking. Then he started to walk but pumpkin season was close to an end and I said I could wait until next year.

This past weekend, the weather was marvelous! It couldn't have been nicer for mid October. On Saturday, we went to the Laity Pumpkin Patch in Maple Ridge. My parents were visiting and so we brought them along. I remember thinking it was silly of me to be upset when I learned that Tristan would miss the pumpkin patch trip with daycare. Daycare had their pumpkin patch trip last Thursday and it rained for them. Not that the kids would mind the rain but I think pictures would turn out better with blue skies and there would be less of a mess to clean up for the adults. Sadly for them, the weather has been nothing but sun and clouds most of the time since that Thursday.

We had a great time. There were a ton of things kids could do and so many picture taking opportunities. The petting zoo was cool for Tristan to visit and he had fun dragging pumpkins and pushing wheel barrels around. The cartoon forest was entertaining and such a great idea! The hayride was a bit silly since it only went around in a circle but hey, at least we got to ride on something :)

Admission was $3 for anyone over 2 years old. We ended up staying for 2 1/2 hours and we bought one big pumpkin and one small one, which costed us $7. They were also selling corn stalks for $1 each and I thought about buying some for decorating but ending up not getting any. We took a ton of pictures but most of them were just ok. Tristan was always on the run and it was hard to get him to stand still or sit still for pictures. We would try and try and then we would just give up because it was no fun for anyone. I think next year when he will be almost 3 years old, he will be more cooperative and allow us to take more pictures of him. Having said that, we did end up with a couple of good shots of him but none of the ones of the three of us turned out good :( I'm still looking for that terrific family picture of us!

The pumpkin patch trip is going to be an annual trip for us. Tristan loved it and we love taking pictures. There is just something about putting a small child in front of a bunch of pumpkins that is so adorable. The orange pumpkins, green vegetation, blue skies, mountains in the background, etc. are the perfect ingredients for a great autumn picture :)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Recap of our Thanksgiving weekend

We all headed to Victoria this Thanksgiving. We had a nice visit with family and friends and then we enjoyed a Chinese Thanksgiving dinner. It's probably my first non-traditional turkey dinner with the family. Normally, I do all the cooking but since we went over to Victoria and we were busy running around and taking care of Tristan, it would have been too much to cook all day as well. My parents roasted the turkey Chinese-style and it was served with chow mein. We also had olive bread and champagne. Hey, there is a first for everything, right :)

My contribution to the turkey dinner was the dessert. I prepared some crust from home, bought some pie pumpkins on our way into town from the ferries, and made a couple of delicious pumpkin pies. In the past I have always made pumpkin pie from canned pumpkin but now that I have done it with fresh pumpkin, I'm never going back. I also tried a new recipe which turned out a winner :) It was a big treat for Tristan and he of course, kept asking for more. I do have two small pumpkins left so I'll roast them later this week for more pumpkin pie. Yum!

We also visited my grandpa in the nursing home. He was so happy to see Tristan. I'm glad we brought him. Tristan called "grandpa" in Chinese and waved to him and grandpa's eyes lit up and his mouth opened. That is as responsive as I have ever seen him. It was great.

We also took a trip to Goldstream since we heard that there would be salmon there. Sadly, there was not a single fish :( I'm guessing we were too early this year. We did take a few pictures of all the nice autumn foliage though.

We stayed a day longer than we normally do in Victoria and we still weren't able to do everything we wanted to. We missed out on the shopping altogether. We wanted to check out their Walmart Super Center and the Uptown mall and walk downtown but never got the chance. Oh well. We could have stayed a few hours earlier but we were anxious to get home. When we are away from home, Tristan sleeps later and wakes up early and we all suffer a bit from it. Needless to say, we had to drink more coffee over this past weekend. It's so nice to be home!!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Healthy kids preschool fair

I don't normally do this but I find that I'm doing it more and more now that Tristan is older and wants to go out and socialize all the time. This morning we went to the fair at Edmonds Community School. Admission was free, the times were perfect, the weather was dry, and there was going to be a FIRE TRUCK! Honestly, I had no excuse not to go.

The gyms were filled with community health professionals so that you could consult them about your child's growth and development and receive information about their vision, speech, dental, health and nutrition. There were also lots of displays, face painting, art station, fishpond, healthy snack room etc. Every station seemed to have some kind of activity like coloring, making headbands, playing with play dough, getting tattoos, or playing a game. It was busy but not overly busy.

When the fire truck came, we went outside. Tristan loves fire trucks but he has never seen a real one and it was HUGE. He wanted to go sit in the driver's seat and turn the wheel but at the same time he was scared. Every time I let go of him to take a picture, he was scared. Let's just say I didn't get even one smile from him when we were anywhere near the fire truck. Ok, he really was scared so I didn't want to push him. The ridiculously friendly firemen there didn't help either.

Tristan had his face painted for the first time. He got to walk and run around a lot. We also got goodies from the various stations including sunglasses, a big bib, fun loot bag at the fish pond and puzzles. We didn't make it to the snack room because we ran out of time. That's okay since I brought my own thinking we weren't going to be fed at all. It's so nice for them to offer this free event and provide all the services and even give us snacks.

I think Tristan had a good time. I had a surprise run-in with an old classmate from grad school. Not only did Tristan get to socialize, mommy did too :) I'm so glad we went. If this is an annual event, I'll be going again. Hopefully next year Tristan will actually smile for me on the fire truck :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Daycare pumpkin patch FAIL

When we were on our daycare trip to the Vancouver Aquarium, the staff spoke about going to the pumpkin patch on the next field trip. They said it would be on October 14th and they told me about all the fun details on the trip. The kids were going to take a hayride down the field and come home with a pumpkin and an apple. I was excited because I have never been to a pumpkin patch before. Today, I learned we are not going :( The trip is still on but Tristan and I are not going.

October 14th is on a Thursday and that is not a day Tristan is at daycare. One of the staff there told me that I could ask to go anyway because there could be space on the bus but I am not going to ask. The original plan was to go to the pumpkin patch twice anyway; once with daycare and once with the family. Besides, the Laity pumpkin patch in Maple Ridge looks much more interesting and would probably not be as busy as the one at the Richmond farm (which by the way, has a really annoying flash website!).

Yes, I'm sad about the whole thing but then again, we got to go to the Vancouver Aquarium when the other part-timers at daycare missed out on that trip. Between the Vancouver Aquarium and the pumpkin patch in Richmond, I would totally choose the Aquarium anyway. I mean we will still get to do the pumpkin patch but just not with the kids at daycare. I don't think Tristan will mind very much.

When we were full time in the infant room, there were no perks for the kids. The baby room was the only room that was not included in the field trips. They were also too young for classes such as music or learning French. Now that we're in the toddler room and transitioned into part time, we're missing out on stuff :( Tristan takes part in French classes but misses out on music because he is not there on that day. We miss out on some field trips. I can't really complain though because so far in my opinion, we have been on all the fun field trips. We also get the baking day but miss out on the movie watching day. That's awesome because Tristan is not allowed to watch anything on TV anyway. All in all, the daycare arrangement has been great.

This is the first time that I am bummed he is missing out on a field trip. We'll make it up to him when we go. After thinking about it, we will have so much more fun on our own. We will be able to pick a nice day to go and we will be able to take our time. Daycare will go in the rain or sunshine and will always be back before 1PM in time for the naps. We will hopefully go when it's not too busy so that we can take some cool pictures. It's going to be awesome!
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