Friday, November 26, 2010

2 year developmental update

I kind of dreaded arriving at the terrible twos but now that we are here, I really don't mind it. Sure the tantrums are increasingly bad and it makes you want to scream at the top of your lungs too but if you remove that, raising a two year old is great!


I can't speak for all kids who arrive at two, but Tristan is a thrill to be around most of the time. He can speak in 4-5 word sentences now and has a good understanding of what we say to him in both English and French. He can pronounce a lot of words well and will attempt to pronounce almost anything you throw at him, even if it's not close. For instance, there is a Hawaiian fish called humuhumunukunukuapua'a (hoo-moo-hoo-moo-noo-koo-noo-koo-auhp-oo-ah-ah) but when he tries to copy, it's "hoo-moo-ah-ah." He understands basic concepts like hot/cold, big/small, happy/sad etc. He is learning how to be polite by saying please, thank-you, and excuse me. We find ourselves having to be what I consider overly polite, just to set a good example for him :) Most of the words he speaks are 1-2 syllables long.

Example of phrases he will say:
  • Papa clean hands
  • After eat, brush teeth (or take bath)
  • Papa come home, hurry
  • More please water
  • Papa ride choo choo train
  • Go up bus
  • Dune (aka Tristan) take off Papa vest

He is wearing anything from 18 months to 2 year old clothes. His ski outfit is 18 months and it fits perfectly, although the sleeves could even be an inch longer. Most of his clothes are 23 months to 2 years. He is starting to receive 3 year old clothes as gifts and they probably aren't overly big on him either. His shoe size is 6 or 7. We just bought him snow boots that are size 8 though.


Tristan is not as picky as he was a few months ago. He is at the age where we can bribe him to eat his dinner before he will get any fruit for dessert. If we tell him one or two more spoons of food and then we can move on, he usually agrees and does it within a few minutes. He may not be happy about it but he does obey. He some times surprises us by eating a vegetable in his dish like watercress before eating the fish or chicken chunks, which are some of his favorites. Some times he eats everything we serve him and asks for more. He is definitely eating more these days than what he did last month. Maybe he is going through a growth spurt?

We allow Tristan some sweets, such as homemade sugar cookies (without icing), and he had a few bites of his birthday cake. When he ate it, he didn't ask for more than what we gave him. The taro cake also wasn't as sweet as your conventional birthday cake and there were real fruit on top as well. He hasn't tasted candy or chocolate yet. He is well fed so I don't think he feels like he is missing out on a lot :)

Tristan is only getting one bottle of milk a day now. We give him 220ml first thing in the morning. I think that sounds right for now since he also gets cheese and yogurt with some of his meals. We do paninis a lot, which always have cheese, and we have kefir pancakes twice a week or more. The oatmeal I make in the morning for him also has milk in it.

He doesn't make a big mess! We are thrilled about this progress :) We used to line the carpet with a garbage bag so that any food that landed on it wouldn't stain the carpet and it would be easier to clean up. We threw away that garbage bag over a month ago! Hooray! Tristan still drops food every now and then but most of the mess is in his lap or on the highchair. There have even been times where there were no mess at all!


Tristan is very good at listening. Some times we have to train him a bit and then he catches on pretty quickly. We know he is trying to test us a lot so we are careful in what we allow or don't allow him to do. He tends to order us around but I think it's also because we tell him to do stuff all the time. We want him to be helpful and we need him to know that we are "the bosses." When he wouldn't get out of his chair to bring his finished milk bottle to the sink and wanted me to come and get it, I kept explaining to him that he could help by dropping it in the sink so that I could wash it for him. He didn't like that much and protested for a good 5-10 minutes. After a couple of days of this, he now automatically brings his bottle to the sink each time. He is teachable but some times it does take work and patience.

Tristan is very playful. He loves playing chase and he loves playing rough. He runs fast, climbs and jumps from almost anything. He does know his boundaries though and so far he hasn't hurt himself badly. It's nice that he is teachable :) We thought putting up the Christmas yesterday with all the glass ornaments on it would be a disaster but so far, Tristan has stayed away from it. If he does touch it, he knows to be gentle. Phew.

And then there are tantrums. They sometimes come from nowhere. Maybe we didn't let him do something he wanted to like jump off the counter. He knows he shouldn't but he just needs to pick a fight out of silly things so he can release his anger at us. Once the kicking, screaming, and tears are over, everything is forgotten and forgiven. Just like that. We get bad tantrums from him maybe 2 times a week. He protests a lot when we put a full bib on him (the ones with arms) before his meal, force brush his teeth after he has done it, and put him in the stroller when he wants to walk. It's just like that.

He makes funny faces all the time. I think he gets that one from me :) He also loves making funny noises. Some times making these noises hurts his throat and then he coughs. What a nut!

Making funny noises inside cup from Mommying Around on Vimeo.


We have been more relaxed in the potty training department because we don't want him to feel pressured. We also can't do it alone since daycare trains him differently. He seems more aware of his bladder now. He will tell us when he is peeing, but not before he pees. He tends to pee more often when I put him on the potty first thing in the morning now. Poos are still hit and miss. He usually tells us after he does it.

Here's a quick rundown of some of the good and bad right now.

  • Sings/dances with you and then claps when it is done
  • Eats well and is not as picky as before
  • Is old enough to go play in the snow
  • Can take to a selected number of family-friendly events and have a good time
  • Has good understanding when we explain some things to him
  • Has a much improved understanding of language overall and it's getting to be a joy to talk with him
  • Likes to clean himself and doesn't like to have dirty hands
  • Is very playful and has a wonderful laugh

  • He insists on doing everything on his own
  • He throw tantrums out of frustration
  • He's acquired this bad habit of letting saliva out of his mouth part way and then sucking it back up
  • He protests when we brush his teeth
  • Some times he clings to my legs when I am washing dishes, usually when he is sick of playing alone
  • Doesn't listen to us as much as we would like

Monday, November 22, 2010

Fraser Valley Eagle Festival

Yesterday, we decided to check out the 15th annual Eagle Festival at Harrison River. I browsed their website and was intrigued by the 2500 number count of eagles in the area. It said that they were feasting on salmon in the river and we have been meaning to see salmon for awhile too. When we missed the spawning salmon at Goldstream Park, I was bummed.

On the festival website, there is a stunning picture of the river with eagles all over. I was sort of expecting to see this. After seeing the real thing, I'm beginning to think that photo was photoshopped. Either that or we went at the wrong time. Maybe all the eagles came down to feed in the early morning?

It was a 1 hour 35 minute drive out to Harrison River. We checked out site 3: Squawkum Park and sites 4 and 9: Eagle Point Community Park and Sandpiper Golf Resort, respectively. We saw one eagle flying above the water at Squawkum Park but the site was mostly a salmon graveyard. Even in freezing temperatures, I could smell the dead fish. The next two sites were better but we still didn't see many eagles on the ground. To be fair, we didn't stay outside for more than 10 minutes at a time since it was ridiculously cold. It wasn't snowing and the ground was dry but it was like -3C and the wind chill made it worst.

We had a couple of close encounters with eagles coming down but it happened too fast and there was no chance we could have photographed them. At any one time, I only saw three eagles on the river. Up above though and a mile away, we saw many eagles soaring close to the mountain nearby. I managed to capture as many as fifteen eagles in one of my photographs.

I would have to say it was disappointing overall. The problem was our expectations were too high, we couldn't tolerate standing out in the cold for too long, and we headed out to the festival for the last two hours before closing. For us, it was not enjoyable. If we had gone earlier or dressed warmer, things may have been different. Would I go again? I'm not sure but if we ever do, we would definitely do things differently.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Happy 2nd Birthday Tristan!!!

Exactly two years ago, I became a mother. Jean-Louis became a father. Tristan came into our lives and nothing has been the same. There are tons of adventures every year and it's just amazing when you think about what has happened so far.

Every year we celebrate Tristan's birthday with a big splash. For us, it is a huge milestone. We threw a birthday party for Tristan today. Today is his official birthday and it worked out great that today is also Saturday :) We invited friends and family and had a good time eating. There wasn't much more we could have done since at two, kids are not old enough to follow instructions and play actual games. We'll maybe try some games next year.

Initially, we had a Thomas the Train themed party in mind but when it became too hard to get supplies for the theme, we just went with a theme-less party. Well, we didn't totally scratch the theme. We did have a birthday cake with a piece of Thomas the Train chocolate on top and we found stickers of Thomas the Train to throw in the loot bag. That was all though :( Again, I think at this age, themed parties are not that important and birthday parties are really still for the parents. As parents, we thoroughly enjoyed it :) Kids were well behaved, food was plentiful and good, and Tristan seemed happy.

Surprisingly, we didn't take many pictures or video. There just wasn't much happening and we mostly just ate and socialized while the kids played around. The party was from 11-2PM but nearly everyone arrived late. It was great for us though because I was very late with all my cooking. Sadly, I had to cut a lot of vegetables while Tristan clinged onto my leg and whined. Jean-Louis was out picking up the birthday cake at the time. It was a bit stressful but in the end, everything was done and everything turned out good. I did skip one dish on the menu since by then it appeared we had more than enough food. I also meant to cut up fruit and serve some Mexican candy but I forgot to do that too. Oops :( Unlike last year, where we bought a lot of food, this year I made everything on the menu, except for the cake and drinks.


  • Spinach dip with sourdough bread & assorted veggies

Main dish:
  • Stir-fry chicken chow mein
  • Stir-fry barbecue pork chow mein
  • Pesto chicken panini
  • Turkey/basil sourdough panini
Pop, apple juice

  • Taro Cake
  • Homemade birthday cookies

Puffy stickers of vehicles, Thomas the Train stickers, birthday cookies (one of each kind), Mexican toys, and Mexican treasure chocolate coins.

It was the first time I assembled a loot bag. We didn't have any last year because I didn't know much about them and there weren't that many kids. There weren't that many kids this year either but the kids are older and I thought it would be nice to give them out as a "thanks for coming" gesture. I did try to invite a couple of Tristan's friends from daycare but none of them could make it :( Too bad for them because they missed out on these cool loot bags! Well, at least I thought they were cool.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A few kid-friendly tours in Puerto Vallarta

So what the heck did we do in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico besides running around on the beach and swimming in the pool? Well, we did go on a few tours but we were limited to what we could choose because of Tristan and my parents. Jean-Louis and I are normally very adventurous but we had to scale back and take it easy. I spent a good half day talking to tour agencies at our resort and decided on a couple of tours that were kid-friendly.

We went on a pirate ship tour since it was recommended as the most child-friendly tour. We were assigned a personal pirate to take care of us all day. The trip included a buffet breakfast, open bar for drinks, lunch, pirate show, a sail to a remote beach 1 hour away where we could swim, snorkel, kayak, play volleyball, and ride a banana boat. There was also a treasure hunt for the kids on the beach and games on board the ship. It lasted from 9AM-4PM and it costed a whopping $93US a person but at least Tristan was free since he was under two. Man, kids under two are so lucky! I thought the tour was good. Jean-Louis thought it was too long. It wasn't scary at all for kids. The ship was nice. The bathroom had skull toilets and everything on board was pirate themed. We were a bit addicted to the pina colada they were serving. Their rules for snorkeling was a bit lame. We all had to keep our life jackets on and you couldn't snorkel if you couldn't swim, even with the life jackets on. My parents and Tristan were out because they couldn't swim. Jean-Louis refused to do it because he had to keep his life jacket on and he wanted to dive underwater. So that just left me. I was the only one that went in the water. The water was lovely and I saw lots of fishes but only four different kinds in that area. Later on, I went on the banana boat ride with my parents. Tristan and Jean-Louis were happy just playing in the waves by the beach.

We got to experience a Mexican Fiesta. If you have been to a Hawaiian luau, this is the Mexican version of it. Luckily, our resort was one of the places that was hosting one. The fiesta was 6:30-10PM but after the show was over at 9:15PM, we just went back up to our room. I loved the convenience! There was a buffet of Mexican food, open bar for drinks, a guy going around and making balloon hats for everyone, a music and dance show, and fireworks. The Mariachi band was playing all night and then there were dancers doing traditional Mexican dances. The music was quite loud since we sat close to the front so we had to cover Tristan's ears. He seemed to love the music and was a bit hypnotized by the Mariachi band.

We went on a tour called the jungle trio. It included a tour bus ride through the city and to the mountains where we visited a botanical garden, tequila distillery, and river. It was lame and quite the tourist trap. Luckily, we didn't pay much for the tour. It reminded us a lot of the tours we joined in Egypt. We all stopped by a silver jewelery store, whether we wanted to or not. It was expensive and we only got off the bus to visit the bathroom there. The botanical garden was so small, Jean-Louis said it was someone's backyard. The tequila distillery was the only interesting stop. I got to taste various tequilas and ended up buying some flavored tequila. Then we drove to the river and while everyone else dine in the overpriced restaurant there, we sat on the rocks by the river and ate our packed sandwiches. Wild chickens were running all around us and there were kids playing and swimming in the river. One little girl was washing her bucket of clothes with a bar of soap on the rocks. The scene made me appreciate the life we lived back home.

Then there was the walk downtown in the Malecon and shopping. The Malecon is beautiful. The promenade along the bay is lined with palm trees, sculptures, sand art, and photographs. There are souvenir shops and restaurants everywhere. We marked a few good restaurants we learned about through our research and went out searching for them. The Mexican food is good and cheaper than what you could find here. Bargaining is a must when shopping. We had to shop awhile before we could guess at what the merchandise was worth. After a couple of days, we had enough and ended up not buying much at all :( The area we were in was considered expensive too because it was a resort area and we didn't want to go very far just for some good deals. I was more interested in the eating than the shopping anyway. It was exhausting for all of us to shop, especially Tristan. It was hot every day!

The bus ride was a thrill for Tristan. The roads are horrible and the buses are in poor condition. I swear it would fail every safety regulation in Canada if it were ever tested. The ride was quick, bumpy, noisy, and cheap. It costs 6.50 Pesos to ride the bus. That's only $0.50 a ride! We would hang out all day downtown to shop, eat at a restaurant, and then take a bus back to the hotel. It was only a 5-10 minute ride. It was a bit of a pain to get on the bus though since we had to take apart our stroller.

So there you have it! We did do more than just run on a beach and swim all day. Although it wouldn't be such a bad idea since we were in a great location to do all that :) We found ourselves walking to the beach during the sunset most nights while Tristan kicked around in the waves and while my parents enjoyed the jacuzzi. Ah, paradise :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Family vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

We're back in Vancouver! Back in the cold and rain but I love it :) It's always so nice to be back home after a vacation. There really is no place like home!

We spent the past week vacationing with my parents in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The flight was direct via WestJet and only 5 hours long. The time difference was 2 hours. Compared to our trip to France, this trip was a breeze. We didn't have to entertain Tristan as much now that he is a bit older. In fact, we found that window seats are awesome for him. Aisle seats are recommended so that you can get out easily but he loves looking out the window. He is so much happier to be by the window! On the way there, my dad sat with us so we were able to tuck things under his seat and we didn't have to keep our distance from him or feel like we were invading his privacy every time we poked him or used his tray table. On the way there, the plane was not full so we had an empty seat next to us for Tristan. Yes, he flew with us for free. Again. This is his last free flight since he will be officially two this weekend.

Puerto Vallarta is beautiful. There are many great swimming beaches and they are free of rocks so Tristan went bare feet a lot. Man, our kid loves the beach! He loves to walk on sand, touch sand, and he loves the waves. He also liked the pool. He just likes being around water I think :) Besides the beaches, there are the breathtaking views. It's everything you would expect from a tropical destination, plus timeshares salespeople. Yeah, those salespeople were persistent and quite annoying.

We stayed at a lovely hotel with beach access and nice pools. It was conveniently located 10 minutes from the airport and 5 minutes from downtown by taxi or bus. As a result, we got to walk a lot. We left our car seat at home and only brought our stroller. It was a good thing we brought our Bugaboo frog because the sidewalks really do require a stroller that has a 4 wheel drive :) It was hot to walk though but since we were by the water a lot, we would get nice breezes. The temperature all week hovered around 28-30C and it doesn't rain at all for months. In comparison, Vancouver is raining now and 9C. Snow is expected for us by the end of the week! Eeeks.

Even though we were away from home and away from everything familiar to Tristan, he was surprisingly well behaved and adapted quite well. He didn't trash the hotel like what we had thought. Soon after we checked into our room, Tristan locked himself in the bathroom and my dad had to pick the lock to free him. He soon learned that he was not allow to play with the bathroom doors and we learned that we could not let him roam free for too long. We were able to pretty much stick to his usual routine for meals and sleep times. The nap time was off since we were normally out so he would just sleep whenever he was tired in his stroller. That's pretty much what happens on the weekends back home anyway.

My parents stayed with us in our 1 bedroom suite and we stuck together for the entire trip. One of the rules I had for us was that we had to stick together or at least stay close together because it was safer that way. It turned out the area that we were staying in was very safe and we were just paranoid for no reason. Because we did so much stuff together, Tristan really got to see my parents a lot and got better acquainted with them. They were trying to teach him a bit more Chinese too so that was good. My parents also helped us carry bags and pushed the stroller so that was a bonus for us.

Our main purpose in Mexico was to get away from the cold, relax, play at the beach, and visit a new place and try new foods. We did all that, plus more :) Our budget allowed us to experience a couple of tours, which were for the most part very enjoyable. Overall, we had a lovely time in Puerto Vallarta, despite me being sick with a cold. Tristan is a bit older now and a little easier to manage compared to when we went to France five months ago. I think when he gets a bit older and knows how to swim, we could do more activities with him. For instance, we could go snorkeling and swim with the dolphins. The dolphin swim has an age requirement of 4 years. I think my parents had a good time too. We all needed a vacation and this was exactly what we needed :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Halloween candy stash

Once upon a time, there was a little monkey...

...and he brought us all this! Yes, we love our little monkey :)
The candy stash above includes all the candy from the Heights trick-or-treating, Halloween night trick-or-treating, and our daycare goodie bag.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Toddler's first trick-or-treat

We could not have asked for better weather on Halloween day. I don't even think it rained that day. The forecast called for rain but it was dry all day. The sun even came out in the afternoon.

On Halloween day, we had a family dinner where I cooked ghastly goulash and baked a rainbow cake in the shape of a pumpkin. We all ate more than enough to fuel us for trick or treating that night. We headed out around 6PM. My plan was to get back in time for Tristan's bath around 7:30PM. We went in a group with my sister, brother-in-law, and Tristan's little cousins, and some of their friends. Jean-Louis didn't come along since he wasn't feeling well. It was great going in a big group because it always felt safe and no one was scared.

After an hour of walking from house to house, up and down stairs, Tristan was pooped. He started out running door to door along with his cousins. I barely had to carry him for the first 40 minutes. When I did carry him, it was mainly so we would catch up to the others. Tristan seemed to have enjoyed himself. What can I say? He loves to collect stuff in his pumpkin pail :) Seriously, he did very well on his first outing trick-or-treating. We came across some fairly spooky looking houses and he wasn't scared. Well, he had a sad face once when some lady in a mask dressed like one of those killers in Scream approached him. Even when the firecrackers were going off left, right, and center, he didn't freak out too much. Near the end, I had to carry him from house to house. His candy pail was also getting full so I had to empty some into my pockets. I honestly didn't think we would get so much candy! It also helped that he would collect two pieces of candies from some houses because they said he was small. I then carried him home so he could brag to his daddy. A job well done, I'd say! :)
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