Harrison – Three years old!

Dear Harrison,

It’s been about six months since your last newsletter. And a lot about you has changed, but at the same time so much seems the same. I guess it just feels like you’re growing into yourself more every day. You’re still a loveable, friendly, happy-go-lucky, dinosaur-loving, talkative munchkin.

Let’s talk milestones shall we? After September whenever anyone asked you how old you were you always said you were two and a half. You never forgot that extra half. It was very important to you. September had beautiful fall days and we got outside to play and go for walks quite a lot.

In October you started at a new preschool. It was a big adjustment for you. I must admit it took me by surprise that you had trouble going from a home daycare to preschool. Not because I didn’t recognizes the differences, but because you’ve always been so adaptable, and really quite brave when it comes to meeting new people, and visiting new places. It was completely heartbreaking dropping you off those October mornings. Every day I would hear back that after a short period of sadness you were happily playing and having a great time. But more than once, I wanted to just put your coat back on and take you home. Or not leave the house at all due to your pleading. More than once I went to the car and cried myself. Over time of course drop offs became routine and no problem. You were eager to see your friends and teachers in the morning. You continue to thrive at preschool and have made lots of friends. You’ve been able to explore so many new things in this environment too.

One of your favourite parts of going to preschool was a field trip that was planned for the pumpkin patch. You got to ride a school bus to the pumpkin patch. I think that might’ve been your favourite part. You also got to trek into the corn field, take a ride on a tractor-pulled wagon, and even got to pick out your own pumpkin in the patch. You were totally in your element. You still talk about various parts of that morning as you remember them. Sometimes you remember riding the bus, sometimes going into the corn and sometimes, picking a pumpkin the size of your head (as per the instructions)!

And your memory is absolutely amazing. You remember things like your field trip, the long names of dinosaurs, things people have said, past events, and the little details of every day. Sometimes you remember things that I’ve forgotten. And your ability to make associations is truly astounding to me. This morning we passed a cement mixer on the expressway. You pointed out that we had passed it. I told you it was because he was going “so slow, because he’s big and heavy”. You responded with “Yeah, like a stegosaurus”, because we’ve learned from your many dinosaur books that the stegosaurus was a slow moving animal, but we haven’t talked about that part of stegosaurus in a few weeks. Not to mention, you then added, “he has a walnut”. Which means he has a walnut-sized brain. Yep. You’re right. We’ve learned that in your books, too. I told you that he didn’t have a big brain like you, and you responded “Yeah, I know everything”. Some days it sure seems like you do.

So if you haven’t guessed, your love of dinosaurs has just expanded over the last six months. You love to read about them, you love reading through your dinosaur flash cards and rhyming off their multi-syllabic names like most adults can’t!

But your love of animals doesn’t stop just at dinosaurs, you still love all animals. In November we took a great family trip to the new aquarium in Toronto. You loved going through the tunnel and watching the sharks and other animals swim above us. After we returned you often talked about taking your favourite people to the aquarium, often promising friends and family that you would go together. You’re so kind!

You’re still loving your swimming lessons. You are always asking about when your next lesson is. I’m so glad you love to be in the water. And this winter you and I started skating lessons. You didn’t exactly love it at first. You did really well at the first lesson enjoying the newness of the experience. The few lessons after that included lots of yelling at me that you wanted to go home, and a few tears. You didn’t really like the falling part that comes with learning to skate. Of course, we kept with it and you were skating without my help in just 7 short weeks. You were getting up on your own, spinning around, hopping on the ice, and bending over and picking up toys. It was hard to see you struggle with it because you couldn’t see the great strides you were making each week. It was so hard to explain to you that you were a natural when you were sitting on your butt on the ice. I knew you had it in you though!

As far as the last few holidays go, they’ve all been great. We spent a beautiful Thanksgiving weekend at Nana and Poppa’s. You helped pull veggies in Poppa’s garden, and picked apples from his trees. It poured rain on Hallowe’en so we just hit up a few houses on our street before I decided that we were all too wet go any farther. It didn’t matter to you. You loved that everyone was handing out candy. And you loved being Buddy the Dinosaur from the TV show Dinosaur Train.

In the fall we hit up two parades, both the Oktoberfest parade and the Santa Claus parade to kick off the holiday season.

We spent Christmas as a family of four at home. Your dad and I want you and your brother to have memories of Christmas at home, just like we do. And maybe you won’t remember this Christmas (or maybe you will – your mind is like a vault), but I will always remember this very special Christmas, our first as a family of four. It was so fun to see you come downstairs on Christmas morning to find your train set that Santa brought you. You had all the joy and exuberance and excitement that I could’ve asked for. You were so fun to watch. You wanted to play with everything as you opened your gifts. The hardest part was trying to keep you focussed enough to keep opening presents before getting to play with everything. After the gift mayhem at our house we went to Gramma and Grampie’s house in London and had Christmas dinner with the family there.

You are a highly quotable child and I’ve been keeping a record of the awesome things you say in your quotable book, but one of your favourite catch phrases lately has been to say “Sure!” or “Sure is” or “Sure does”. You sound so grown up when you say that.

All in all, I’d say you have it pretty good, little buddy. Here’s a day in your life: In the morning you usually wake up by calling for me. Usually you say, “Mom, is it morning time?!” And repeat at increasing volume and urgency until I’m in your room. Then, if you’ve woken up at what we deem to be too early to get out of bed, you usually snuggle up between your dad and I and watch a show on our TV. Your favourites right now are Busytown Mysteries, My Big Big Friend, Dinosaur Train, Daniel Tiger’s Neighbourhood and Chuck the Truck. After a show (or two depending how early you woke up), we head downstairs for breakfast. Your favourite breakfasts lately are “circle toast” ie: toasted English muffins with PB and J, “sugar brown” aka instant oatmeal with brown sugar on top, and usually one day on the weekend we have pancakes. Your favourite is when I make banana chocolate chip. You’re also a fan of dad’s egg mcmuffins.

On school days we then scurry upstairs to get dressed and then out the door. Sometimes if I’m tending to Foster you get to play or watch a show before getting your gear on to get out the door.

After school seems to be a blur of 4 hours. I leave the house to pick you up and moments later it seems to be 8 o’clock! After school you and your brother usually play while I put dinner together. Your favourite dinners right now are make-your-own-pizza, chicken wings, shawarma with Greek salad – you LOVE Greek salad – and you’ve been known to like a chicken McNugget Happy Meal. You always, always, always, ask for dessert, so if you’ve had a good meal then you get a little dessert after dinner. At Christmas we invented a game called the M&M game in which everyone at the table picks a colour of M&M and then we pop them out of the bag one at a time. The person with the most of their colour is the winner. But you always get to eat them all!

After dinner we usually have a family dance party. Your favourite song for dance party time is the quirky “What does the fox say?” by Ylvis. You absolutely love it. You sing it all the time. I love watching you dance. Your dad has taught you the upside down turtle “move” which you love. You also love to make a penguin parade around the room, and during the Olympics we even created some sports-themed dance moves for the events. You’ll have to ask your dad to show you the ski jumper some time. You still sometimes ask us to do the bobsled.

After dance party you and I “race” up the stairs. Somehow you always win. Every night you ask “I wonder why I’m so fast?”.

Our bedtime routine consists of getting you into your pyjamas, reading a couple stories or reading through your dinosaur cards, and then a bathroom break/brush your teeth. After you climb back into bed we have a family “huggle” where your dad and I give you a hug after you’re tucked in. On a good night, you go right to sleep or talk to yourself a little before drifting off to sleep. Other nights you press your luck and call on us for every last thing in the book.

It’s a pretty good day. I love spending my days with you. And even though those last few hours seem to fly by they’re some of the best times. Our family dance parties are epic, if I do say so myself.

The last three years have been epic. I’m so looking forward to seeing you grow more into yourself each and every day.

Love,

Mama

blowing out my birthday candles

First day of preschool

thanksgiving parade

sums it up

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Harrison’s Third Birthday Party

It’s hard to believe that my little peanut turned three years old this weekend, but he did and we celebrated with some friends and family to mark the occasion.

By request, we put together a dinosaur themed birthday party for him. If you know Harrison at all you know that the theme is not a surprise choice!

He said to me the other day, “Mom, I love every dinosaur of the whole world!”. Yes he does.

watering hole

Most of the credit goes to Pinterest and the wonderful bloggers and event planners who gave me such great Pin-spiration, and of course Target who had some of the goodies ready to go.

Since this was a morning party there was just a table laid out with a few snacks to tide people over before pizza lunch. I ran some wrapping paper down the centre of the table to act as the runner and then spotted the table with some of Harry’s many dinosaur friends. The pitcher was later filled with apple juice. The drink station was labelled the “Watering Hole”. For all the paper goods I used the free printables in this package found here.

table set

The pretzel sticks are labelled “Dinosaur Bones” and the cake “Cake-asaurus”.

As for the rest of the decorations I kept it pretty simple. I hung a happy birthday banner that I found at Target near the front door. I’ll be able to use it over and over again for many birthdays to come.

pictures

I also swapped out the pictures at the front door for Harrison’s birth announcement and a recent picture of him that I had printed. And his triceratops pillow made an escape from his bedroom to welcome guests to the party on the bench.

Harry says station

I also set up a memory station that included this memo board of some of Harry’s many memorable quotes from the time he was two to now. On the table I included about 60 photos of Harrison over the past year for people to browse as well.

dino egg hunt

We started the morning with a little game for the kiddos. I figured that they’re getting to the age that actually doing something organized at the party could be fun. So I set up a little dinosaur egg hunt and hid two eggs for each kid around the house. The timing couldn’t have been better. All the Easter stuff is already in stores. I found a huge bag of empty plastic eggs at Target and amazingly there were eight colours in the bag, one for each child at the party. So two eggs of each colour were filled up and hidden around the house and then I had one egg of each colour in a bag and the kids picked a colour out of the bag. Then they had to only search for their colour egg. This allowed for each child to get two eggs ¬†and there was no fighting over who got more or who was the fastest. Everyone got to find two. I think it worked out well.

We then let the kids play in the play room for a while before letting Harry open the presents before lunch.

card as a gift

Harrison was totally spoiled. There were so many great gifts for him. He’s been itching to play with all of them. Even some of the cards were kind of a toy too, like this one from Gramma and Grampie!

helmet

Foster got Harrison a bike helmet which he was pretty tickled about. What a thoughtful gift for Harrison!

bike reveal

But the helmet was a bit of a hint at what was to come. And after all the presents were opened Husbandman rolled out our gift for Harry. We got some good advice from friends who have older kids or about the same age and decided on a balance bike for Harry. He helped pick out the colour that he likes to call reddish orange.

And Husbandman timed the oven pizza perfectly and it was ready to come out of the oven as Harry “opened” his last present.

And after lunch, well, it just wouldn’t be a birthday party without candles and cake.

cake-asaurus

When I saw the Happy Birthday candles at Target I knew just what I was going to do with them. That is, I knew what I wanted to do with them. I had this vision of the candles being the spikes on the back of a stegosaurus. I immediately thought that Rice Krispie squares would be perfectly pliable (to the best of my abilities) to shape into my best version of a stegosaurus. Just one minor little detail of a problem. I had never made Rice Krispie squares before. And even though it required a little troubleshooting (I had old marshmallows that wouldn’t melt) the cake turned out great… eventually. I had to make a run to the grocery store for new marshmallows to make it work, but I think it looked great. It definitely tasted delicious and Harry seemed pleased. He asked for the “H” pieces.

goodie bags

And once cake was shared it was time to say goodbye to our friends. I packed up a little goodie bag for each of the kiddos. Everyone got one of those squishy dinos, a glow stick, an activity pack, a fruit roll-up, a piece of side walk chalk, a stamp pen and a little popping toy.

We kept it simple but Harrison had lots of fun. And I enjoyed myself too since there was no stress! (Except for the little marshmallow hiccup the night before)

Can you believe I’ve never made Rice Krispie squares before? Any parties in your future? I’m already back in party planning mode because somehow Foster is turning one in just a few weeks!