2 Years Old!

Yesterday on June 29, 2019, the twins turned TWO! It’s hard to believe that at this time two years ago, Richard and I were still in the hospital with two tiny (Philip was 5lbs 13oz and James was 6lbs 7oz) babies in the cot next to us, so in love but also wondering how we were going to raise these two little babies who needed so much. Now two years later, Philip has grown to a whopping 24lbs 2oz and James 22lbs 4oz, and they are so capable. They still have a lot to learn and a lot of developing to do, but are already well on their way.

Both boys are running everywhere (with a few falls and scrapes of the knees), and Philip jumps all the time. He will jump while he is just standing there (two feet off the ground at the same time), or he will jump off of things (chairs, the stairs, the couch…you always need to be on your guard). James also jumps, but he’s still using a one-foot-at-a-time kind of jump. They climb onto so much, and are constantly pushing our dinner chairs into the kitchen to climb up and watch us, and help us, cook. They got a little slide for their birthday yesterday, and both boys have been constantly climbing the 3 steps to the top of the slide to go down, and then also climbing up the slide part to turn around and go down again. They climb in and out of their pool, the bath tub, up and down the stairs, on and off the bed…you get the point!

They are now in their booster seats instead of high chairs…although James typically opts to sit directly on a regular dinner chair, or even better on mom or dad’s lap. They eat so well most of the time. Right now, Philip’s favourite foods are eggs, salmon, ham, and if we had to pick a favourite veggie it would be broccoli and carrots…and kale chips. James will always go for anything with bread or pasta, but also likes chicken, sausages, and nectarines. He’s hit or miss with broccoli and carrots, but will always chow down on some kale chips too. And of course they both love cake and ice cream, and anything dessert-like (yogurt, chocolate oat bars, black bean brownies, etc.).

They are both still just missing their 4 back molars but have the rest of their baby teeth, and now when we ask them to smile for the picture they both know to flash us their toothy grin.

They know almost all of their body parts and so many animal sounds that I can’t keep up with them all any more. They are talking more and more every day and can communicate what they want instead of just pointing and saying “uh!”…at least most of the time. They know a lot of different vehicle noises and will always point up at the sky when they see a plane or helicopter or bird.

They are also in the process of being potty trained (we started June 22), and after a rough few days I’m happy to report it is going really well! On our outing today, neither boy had an accident and Philip peed in the potty we brought with us before getting in hit carseat to come home.

Philip and James are playing and interacting so well with each other. They really are each other’s best friend! When one of them wakes up before the other one, they always want to go back into their room to get the other one up. And if one of them is crying, the other will come over and pat his head and try to give him a hug, kiss and/or soother (if available). They do still get into their fair share of disagreements and fights (sometimes involving hitting and rarely biting or hair pulling), but in the end they always hug it out. Philip is especially great at sharing!

Philip loves to colour. We put a few crayons in a bin for him to have easy access to, and some paper out for him to always get, and he’s constantly drawing us pictures. He also loves to read books. His new favourite is Dear Zoo – an amazing lift-the-flap book from Nana and Grandad who are visiting now from England. James loves his toys and stuffed animals. He will pretend his dogs are walking and barking, his tiger is chasing people and roaring (Philip loves that one too), or take his ducks that Great Grandpa Hodgins’ made for him for a walk. They both love to throw and kick the balls that we have around the house, and then chase them . They also love to play with cars and a race track set from Grandma and Grandpa Hodgins, and then to go off-roading with all of their different cars and ‘vroom’ them around the house. And they still just love to run around the house screaming and laughing and playing hide-and-seek and peek-a-book. They also love throwing balls, cars, play food and cooking utensils down the stairs, which isn’t my favourite game of theirs.

They love music and dancing and we’ll often have little dance parties in the evening. They are so creative and such sweet and loving boys. I’m so blessed to be the mother of these two boys and wish them both a very happy second birthday!

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Happy Father’s Day

Family shot

This year for Father’s Day, we decided to make a lasting gift for daddy: a grill plate! We went to Colour Me Mine the weekend before Father’s Day and selected our plate. Richard came with us to help do the initial painting because I didn’t think I’d be able to paint the plate and supervise the boys, and I thought it would be a great part of the gift for him to be a part of making it, which it was.

It took the boys about 10 minutes to warm up to the idea of painting and being okay to sit on their own, but then once they started getting the paint on their hands, they were ready for business! They painted the table and side plates that were meant to hold paint, and their faces and hands. All of the paint here is water soluble, so it was super easy to wash off afterwards!

We got them to each give a foot and a hand print to create the flippers, burger and hot dog that formed Daddy’s Grill Plate. We left the plate at Colour Me Mine to be glazed, and I picked it up on the following Friday, complete and ready to be gifted to daddy!

Richard loved his finished grill plate, and has been putting it to good use already!

Happy Father’s Day to all of the amazing fathers out there – especially Richard who is always putting the boys first and gives them so much love, fun and security. And to my dad who has always been there for me throughout the years, from driving me 5 hours up north for my first big away-from-home-camp in grade 8, to driving me all the way from Sarnia to Calgary! The driving is just a drop in the bucket of all of the wonderful love and support he’s given me, and now Richard and Philip and James. Happy Father’s Day!

23 Months!

On May 29 the boys hit their 23 month birthday. They are still such happy boys, although we are getting a few more temper tantrums thrown into the mix.

They are starting to understand more, and actually getting quite helpful. They can understand some two-part instructions, such as “pick up that X and throw it out in the garbage.” They are actually a good help in feeding Nya, and able to scoop out her food and put it in her bowl, but needs supervision because if it was up to them they would just keep feeding her because they love her reaction to food. They also love feeding her treats, and are always sad when we put them away. They help me sometimes making food in the kitchen, although usually it doesn’t end up being very helpful, But we still do it because it is cute, I know that they are learning and I just enjoy doing different activities with them!

This last month, they have discovered that they are tall enough to close doors, and that is their new favourite thing to do. They rotate between closing all four doors upstairs, and love it when Richard and I open the door again so they get another opportunity to close it! They will grab the side of the door and close it right to the point where they would pinch their fingers and then they stop, stand up on their tiptoes to grab the door handle, and pull it shut. They haven’t mastered opening the door yet, but I’m sure it is only a matter of time. Philip has actually taken to walking around on his tippy toes sometimes, which is so cute to watch.

Both boys have started eating a bit more meat this month. Philip’s new favourite meal is ham.

We bought them a wading pool for the backyard, so that has been fun to go out every day when they get home from Dayhome and play in the pool. One of their favourite things to do is to take an empty jug, fill it up with water from the pool, and dump it onto the garden.

They have learned some new words this month, including hot, happy, more and please. They are understanding so much, and making new sounds every day. They may have more words than I realized, but I may just not be able to understand them, but they certainly seem to understand each other.

They also now smile for the camera, which is so cute. You can see from these pictures below that they are doing a posed smile rather than the natural ones I’ve been able to capture in previous monthly photo shoots, but I love their little boy smile’s.

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First Vacation – Part 3: Las Olas Beach Club

After our first week at Holiday Inn’s Orange Lake Resort in Orlando, we packed our bags again and drove one-and-a-half hours east to Las Olas Beach Club in Satellite Beach. My parents have had a timeshare at this location for the past 6 years, but it was only mine and Richard’s 2nd time going on this family trip to Florida. When we had went 4 years earlier, it was when Elena was just 9 months old and starting to learn to walk!

This stay was much different, yet much the same as it had been 4 years prior. Now instead of one 9 month old baby, we had 4 kids 4 and under, which made it a bit more work for all adults involved, but so much more fun to see the cousins interact with each other. Elena and Tristan taught Philip and James “Ring Around the Rosie” and “Sleeping Bunnies”, and Philip did his first ever somersault here under the influence of his big cousins. Elena was a big help in entertaining the three younger boys when the adults were busy getting ready for the day, or preparing/cleaning up meals. James especially finds Elena so fascinating!

The boys experienced salt water and ocean waves for the first time at Las Olas, and, they were a hit! Philip has no fear and would run headlong into the oncoming waves and squeal and laugh with glee. James also loved the waves but was a bit more cautious and wouldn’t go in unless someone was holding his hand (thankfully!). James preferred to stay at the water’s edge, playing in the sand with his bigger cousins, while Philip jumped and splashed in the water.

We saw a lot of animals on the beach too – mainly pelicans, who were constantly diving for their meals. We also saw some sand piper birds (which the boys would always chase down the beach), turtles at the ice cream parlour across the street, and mole crabs (aka sand fleas that are little crabs that bury themselves in the sand near the shore).

After a couple of days in Las Olas, we took a break from the sand and sun and went to Brevard Zoo, which is an amazing zoo just 20 minutes away in the town of Melbourne. Although the zoo is in a small city, it is an amazing zoo! You’re able to feed the giraffes, cockatiels and lorikeets, and there is an option to kayak around the zoo to see the animals, or else zip line over the cheetahs and alligators. We didn’t do the last two options, but we did get to see the cheetahs running as they chased a little ball on a track that the zoo keepers set up around their enclosure. The boys also particularly loved the meerkats, which they always enjoy at the Calgary Zoo. There were several animals at the Brevard Zoo that we do not have at the Calgary Zoo, such as rhinoceros, kangaroos and jaguars, which were amazing to see.

The other outing that we did while at Las Olas was a day trip back to Orlando to go to the Magic Kingdom. It was certainly a full day and ended up with both boys passing out during the afternoon parade (Philip had actually fallen asleep 20 minutes earlier on “It’s a Small World”). They did have fun going on the rides that they were able to, including Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Prince Charming’s Regal Carousel, and the Jungle Cruise. Elena absolutely loved meeting the princesses, seeing all of the castles, and the full Disney experience; she just wasn’t ready to leave! Luckily, we took two vans to Disney, so at 4:30 pm the boys, Richard, myself and my parents called it a day and started to make our way back to the car…which we got to by 5:30 pm (it’s a HUGE park)! Kaitlynn, Aaron, Elena and Tristan ended up staying until 7:30 pm (getting to their van at 8:30 pm). Amazingly, the boys did not fall asleep on the way home, so we were able to get them a quick meal and in bed at their regular 7pm.

Another highlight of Las Olas was that we were able to see the SpaceX Falcon launch on April 11 from the Kennedy Space Centre from our balcony at Las Olas. Although the boys didn’t much care for it, all of the adults thought it was pretty amazing to see the rocket launch, separate, and then return, and to hear the sonic boom.

After our second week of relaxation, sun, sand and beach, I felt like I had enjoyed a much needed holiday and time with my boys and family. I even got to see my Aunt Linda (my mom’s sister), her son and his two kids because they also made their way down to Las Olas for their weekly family vacation. It was hard saying goodbye to everyone, especially watching the three boys give their little hugs and kisses to each other. The Bonin’s left early in the morning on the last day, whereas the rest of us stayed until after lunch and then my parents dropped Richard, myself and the boys off at the Orlando International airport, and then proceeded to start their drive back to Ontario. Overall, it was an excellent vacation and I look forward to the next time we all go to the timeshare in Las Olas.

Group shot

Group photo on the Las Olas deck before the Bonin’s had to leave

First Vacation – Part 2: Orange Lake Resort

When we got to Florida, we spent the first week at Orange Lake Resort right in Orlando. This resort was massive! There was about 4 different main pool areas (with multiple pools in each area), a few smaller pools (one of which was just behind where we were staying), a lazy river, water slides, 2 mini golf courses, 3 actual golf courses, and numerous restaurants and shops. It was about a 15 minute drive from one end of the resort to the other. So needless to say, there was always a lot to do here!

All aboard

Philip and James getting ready to head to North Village

Our typical day at Orange Lake consisted of waking up, having breakfast, getting the kids sun-screened, and then driving to one of the main pool areas where we spent a couple of hours before loading everyone back into the van and going back to our unit for lunch. After lunch, the three boys (Philip, James and their cousin Tristan) would turn in for a nap, during which time Elena played with grandma and grandpa while Kaitlynn and I went grocery shopping, ran some kind of errands, or once our husbands arrived later in the week check out the sites within the resort.

Once the boys woke up from their nap 1 to 3 hours later, we typically just stayed around our unit, either going for walks to look at the birds and wildlife, or going to the smaller pool behind our unit. Then it was dinner time, bath time, and bed time for the kids. Every day was so busy and fun-filled!  At the end of the first week of vacation, I was so glad that we had another week of vacation left, because Orange Lake was so busy that even though I was having a blast, I didn’t feel like I had relaxed yet.

The 4 main area pools were West Village (about a 15 minute walk from us), North Village, East Village and River Island. The one we went to most often was at the North Village, because it had a kiddie slide that all 4 kids loved, a splash pad, waterfalls, and a wading pool. There was also a zero entry section of one of the pools which the kids enjoyed running in and out of, especially the twins!

We went to West Village on one of our first days when it was raining to take advantage of the kids play zone, and then play in the sandy beach once the rain stopped. We also went to River Island once with all of the kids, it was not as little kid-friendly as North Village though. For starters, it was much busier, (literally walked around the whole area twice until we found 2 chairs we could use), had a couple of grown-up slides that the kids couldn’t go on, and the lazy river was actually surprisingly difficult to maneuver with small kids who can’t swim or even really float! Elena was fine on it (just didn’t like the unavoidable waterfalls every 20 feet) but it was nearly impossible to float down the river and hold one of the 3 boys.

One of the great things about traveling with family when you have small kids, is that it allows people to take turns going out to do things while the kids are napping or sleeping. At Orange Lake, my parents stayed in each time to watch the kids, while myself, Kaitlynn, Richard and Aaron went out. We were able to play a couple of games of mini golf, go down some of the grown up slides and even go for a relaxing float on the lazy river. And of course it was great fun to get to spend time with the whole family, especially the four cousins!

First Vacation – Part 1: The Flights

We were lucky enough to get to go to Florida for the first two weeks of April with my parents (Grandma and Grandpa), sister (Aunt Kaitlynn) and brother-in-law (Zio) and their two kids (Elena – 4.5 years old and Tristan 2.5 years old).

I was able to get two weeks off, meaning I could go to Florida on Sunday when we were able to check into the first place we were staying, but Richard wasn’t able to come down until Thursday. Because the boys are not yet two, they are infants and therefore fly for free. But, you are required to have one adult over 18 for every infant under two on an airplane. So, my mom came out to Calgary so the four of us could fly to Florida.

When traveling with infants, you are allowed to check one car seat and pack n’ play or stroller, free of charge. Because we were traveling with TWO infants, that meant that I could bring both car seats, our double stroller and our pack n’ play for no charge, which was great, but also meant that we had a TON of stuff to bring to the airport.

Richard took us to the airport and thankfully parked and help us wheel in all of our luggage. We were quickly overtaken by a couple with one suitcase and a backpack and Richard and I reminisced about the days when we were able to quickly pack and efficiently move through the airport with minimal luggage. But with two car seats, one double stroller, one pack n’ play, two personal bags, two carry on’s, and one big suitcase…and of course two little boys wanting to walk on their own…we wouldn’t have changed anything!

Once we were able to check the suitcase, car seats and pack n’ play things got a lot easier, but we also had to say goodbye to Richard for a few days until he joined us in Florida. And then we had to go through security, which with a personal bag and carry on bag each for my mom and I, and a boy each, and the double stroller…it was a bit of a challenge. We also went through customs in the Calgary airport, by which time the boys were getting bored of all of the waiting in line and just wanted to explore.

Waiting to board the plane was fun; we walked around the airport and played in some of the designated ‘fun zones’ that YYC has set out. There was a terrifying moment where I looked down to find where I had put the boys soothers when James decided to make a run for it and slipped through the legs of passengers waiting to board our flight, but I had him again within several seconds. And, as it turns out, I had left the soothers on a dresser back at our house.

It was decided that I would take James on the flight and my mom would have Philip. Because there are only 4 masks that drop down from the overhead compartments in the event of an emergency, you are not allowed to have two lap-held infants in the same row as each other. So, James and I were sat in seat 14D and my mom and Philip behind us in seat 15F. Although it was meant to be a full flight, the person next to my mom did not show up, so after take off, the woman in seat 15D offered to switch with James and I. This way, we weren’t breaking the 4-people-to-4-masks rule, and we were all able to sit in the same row and the boys even had a seat they could share sometimes!

I brought lots of snacks, some containers with a few wet wipes in them for the boys to play with (one of their favourite things to do is to pull wipes out of the package and rip them into small pieces), some of their favourite books, puzzle pieces with animals on them, and little bags full of washcloths (have I ever mentioned how much James especially loves washcloths?!?), small toys and empty lip chap containers (another favourite of the boys). And miraculously, this little stash of items entertained the boys for the 5 hour flight to Florida! I wasn’t planning on having it entertain them for the whole time…I had planned on them napping for at least an hour of the flight, but since I forgot their soothers (of all things!), they would not go to sleep. It also helped that everyone sitting around them was playing peek-a-boo and smiling and engaging the boys whenever they seemed that they would get restless!

Once we landed and disembarked the flight in Florida, my mom let my dad (who had driven down with Kaitlynn, Tristan and Elena) know that we had arrived and he set off through Orlando traffic to get us. With the traffic, we ended up waiting about an hour, but got to meet two ‘bomb dogs’, and although they were on duty, the trainers brought the dogs over to the boys for a picture and to let them pet the dogs.

The boys instantly fell asleep on the 40 minute drive to where we were staying, but the fact that they stayed awake for the whole day ended up helping them adjust to the 2 hour time change really quickly which was nice!

The airport experience of baggage drop and security on the return flight was pretty similar, but this time with daddy instead of Grandma. Our flight was delayed for thirty minutes, then we boarded, and then it was delayed for another hour on the tarmac, so instead of taking off at 6:30 pm EST, as was the original plan, we departed at 8:00 pm EST. The boys ate ALL of their Cheerios before we had even taken off, and were starting to get restless.

On this flight, we had prebooked seats so Richard and I were sitting next to each other, but on either side of the aisle. I got to sit with James again and Richard took Philip. Once we got up in the air, they were able to fall asleep about 2 hours into the flight, and slept all the way until when we disembarked the plane. By this time, it was midnight instead of the originally planned 10:30 pm MST and the boys were not happy about waking up and needing to walk through the airport and customs, and they let their dis-contentedness be known.

It was after 1:00 am by the time we had our luggage and had loaded everything into the car. They fell asleep instantly when we started driving, and managed to stay asleep when we transported them from their car seats to their cribs at almost 2:00 am. They woke up a couple of times during the night, but slept until 7:00 am MST (quite impressive as that would have been 9:00 am EST, which is unheard of for them) and adjusted fairly quickly back to Mountain Standard Time.

Overall, the flights to Florida and home again were a success. We did not have any major meltdowns on the plane, despite there being no soothers on the way out, and a 1.5 hour delay on the way home. In fact, I think that the boys really enjoyed themselves!

Happy Mother’s Day 2019

Every day I feel so blessed and am thankful to be a mom to two such healthy, beautiful, and joyful little boys. But this Mother’s Day weekend I have felt extra special, thanks largely to Richard. img_3710

He started yesterday with bringing home a bouquet of flowers and Mother’s Day cupcakes…and changing ALL of the diapers.

The four of us spent yesterday afternoon making a Mother’s Day craft outside, complete with finger paint and water. It’s been about 20 degrees this weekend, so it was the perfect weather to let them run around and get as messy as they wanted to. And they wanted to get very messy…especially James.

 

We let them paint the paper, themselves, and us, and then helped them make this Mother’s Day craft:

Mother's Day Craft

Butterflies and flowers

They absolutely loved it, and they loved getting cleaned up with the hose and some soap outside too. I’ve not put a video in here before, but they were just too cute running in and out of the water that I couldn’t resist!

Today, officially on Mother’s Day, we had a nice breakfast together and then I met a friend to run in the annual Mother’s Day race, where I got a nice mother’s grab bag and just had a fun time running with the other 3,000-odd people that showed up for the event.

This afternoon, we’ve just been playing outside on the deck some more (a pool and slide for the summer is definitely in order!) and enjoying time relaxing together as a family. All in all, it’s been an amazing Mother’s Day weekend to top off being a mother to two amazing boys.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mom’s out there, especially to my own mom, Shirley, who has always provided constant love, warmth and strength to me, and who has been such a wonderful support and role model to me throughout all of life’s ups and downs. And to my mother-in-law, Suzanne, for doing such a great job raising my husband into the caring man and great father he is today, and for being there for us, even though she’s a continent away.