Author Archives: melanie

A Two Year Old Monkey

Two years ago, I had a whirlwind of a labour, and fell in love hard with a tiny wrinkly being, learning the ins and outs of caring 100% for another human. One year ago, we had a small party where the guest of honour was a little unsure, enjoying the balloons and his cake more than the attention and gifts.

Now it’s been two years. Two years since I become a mom and while I agree with the sentiment that it changes everything, I almost feels like for me, it more completed everything. I always wanted to be a mom, and I couldn’t be happier that my sweet little boy, a red-headed imp who is serious and sweet, who is always on the move and loves to dance and spin, but who will settle in for a nice snuggle and a good story, is two. Two! He’s getting more expressive by the day, and I can’t wait to see what this year brings.

His birthday was on Saturday and we had a nice, low-key day. He was thrilled to see the dozen balloons I’d blown up the night before as we descended down to the living room in the morning. We had cottage cheese pancakes and frozen mango for breakfast, and opened gifts from us, and my sister and her husband who came for the weekend from Sudbury. After naptime, we headed over to my brother’s house for some playtime and Swiss Chalet take out.

Sunday was party time! Julian got to watch his favourite TV show, Curious George, in the morning, while we did some food prep for the party. I had tried to come up with some ideas that would be kid and adult friendly, easy to grab, and to fit my theme, colourful. So we did rainbow fruit skewers, veggies in cups with Julian’s favourite garlic dip (made by my mom), and smoked salmon/ cream cheese and BLT turkey with spicy mayo pinwheels. We chopped and packed everything and headed over to Tyler’s parents place to get ready!

party food

party guests

two

The birthday boy had a snooze while we put up streamers, balloons, a birthday banner, photos from the last year in a big 2 on the window, then put out the food, including the banana split bar we’d planned for dessert. We poured drinks, and waited for our awesome family members to arrive: aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and great-grandparents.

birthday book

guests

Once awake, Julian was a little slow to warm up – although the house was filled with people he knew, it was still loud and he felt better approaching the goings-on with my hand clutched tightly in his. As the afternoon went on, he ventured away from me, but still preferred to keep me close as he opened gifts, watched the bigger kids play pin the banana on George, gobbled up cake and opened presents.

woowoo

curious george party game

cake

blowing out candles

banana split bar

I felt a bit like the party passed me by; I spent more time batting at a ball with a plastic golf club than I did catching up with people and having conversations, but…this phase of his life, where I’m the center of his universe, will pass him by quickly enough. So while he’s small enough to want to press his sticky fingers into mine for comfort, while I’m the one who best understands his semi-spoken requests for his blankie or for a drink, I’ll be fine putting all my focus on him and his needs.

birthday boy

We got spoiled with presents, everyone ate and talked and it was a typically wonderful family gathering, infused with love and laughter. People filtered out to get to the hockey game, and J opened a few more presents. He loved taking off each piece of wrapping paper, and wanted to take out every toy and inspect and play with it. He got tons of cars and trucks, a talking Elmo, and the present he’s gotten the most use out of so far: a cute book about Easter called Hop, Hop!

birthday gifts

gifts

birthday boy with hat

As I watched him, I realized that he really is not a baby any longer. He’s a boy now – a mama’s boy who is always in motion, swatting balls with sticks or jumping off steps; a boy who loves his garlic dip, pickles, and any kind of fruit; a boy who’s easy-going and quiet with a playful side. He really is a fun, special little guy and I’m happy that I get to be his Mom.

Pretty Palm Springs

At the tail end of our month long trip in California, I thought it’d be fun to relax at a resort and enjoy the nice weather for a few days. Our Palm Springs resort was as colourful and funky as it looked online and the check in was not bad. They’d put us in a room with a better view than I’d booked, I think, and we got settled in for the first night there. The next day was back to work for me bright and early, and while I’d hoped the boys would be able to play and swim, it was pretty drizzly so they mostly watched TV and ordered room service, which isn’t so bad. I was determined to get in the pool at the end of my work day though, and the water felt pretty warm against the cool, late afternoon air.

room service

room service

diorama

We played a little bocce ball, letting J toss the balls towards each other, and then crossed the street in front of our hotel in search of food. We settled on a place with a good happy hour deal and split a bunch of appetizers. I loved watched J eat a slider – sized exactly right for his hands, and carefully dip a celery stick into the ketchup pot, lick it off, and go back in for more.
The night sky kept raining and we were chilly and damp when we got back, but it’s hard to complain when the weather has been more or less perfect for the last few weeks.

Saguaro

swim

bocce ball

Our second day in Palm Springs was more of the same, but less cloudy. We could actually see snow on the mountaintops now that they weren’t covered with a dusting of fog, and it made me feel extra grateful for being able to wear shoes without socks and feel the warm sun on my face.

I worked and the boys played, and with the balcony door open I could catch sounds from time to time of their great time – they rolled the beach ball around in the grass, said Hi to a long line of ants, smelled flowers, climbed steps – the usual. I just love how willing J is to explore and entertain himself outside without tons of toys. For my part, I swung the computer around during a conference call so my colleague back in Toronto could enjoy the view while stuck in the snow (pretty nice of me, huh?)

Palm springs

beach ball

Getting off at 2pm was perfect post-nap timing, so we headed back to the pool and enjoyed getting in there, or the hot tub. J spent a good long while with a pool noodle pretending to vacuum everything.

noodle

washroom

We weren’t sure how to spend our last day in Palm Springs. We didn’t really have a plan beyond get to LA somehow, at some point. I had a notion in my head after seeing a few billboards the we could do some outlet shopping, possibly during a stroller nap, but with the dollar being so bad right now I decided any deals we found wouldn’t be much different than prices at home.

I wasn’t even sure of the best way, and when I asked for suggestions at the desk I came away confused about how easy it’d be to take the bus or train. I did have a promo code for a free car upgrade, so I priced it out and found it to be $11 more than the bus, plus gas, but I knew it’d be easier (and safer, with a car seat). The first shuttle to the airport car rental area was 1pm and so the front desk was nice enough to extend our check out til then. So once our plan was made, we went out for a leisurely walk to Coco’s bakery for breakfast. I had the crazy Nutella crepes and we enjoyed the awesome view.

street Palm Springs

nice resort

rainbow rooms

street

Then, a last swim and some pool playtime. We relished the sun’s rays and luckily it was the best weather we’d had so far.

Once we rented a car, I’m glad we ended up driving too – the scenery was pretty stunning as it went from desert to green sloping hills, with small but well kept houses in view behind stone walls lined with fuchsia flowers and trailing vines. We split a cream soda that was vanllia-ish and delish, taking in the looming mountains, speckled with rocks and a few capped with snow, soaring palm trees lining the streets and then the bustle of the city highways. Once we arrived we dropped out luggage off, dropped the car, and took a long walk back to the hotel, watching the sun set on our final day in California. Luckily for us, the hotel had a sushi bar and we realized we hadn’t sampled California rolls yet! So sushi it was (a fresh pasta for J) to cap the night off.

drive home

Our flight home went went and I thanked my lucky stars that J was still a happy-go-lucky traveller, secure enough in his routine to nap when it was time, even if it was on my lap, and things like snacks and books, wearing headphones and toys kept him fairly well entertained. Although it was a fun trip, lots of new sights, sounds and memories I’ll treasure forever, I also was glad to get home, unpack and sort life out as normal again.

flight home

So that is that, until the next adventure.

Relaxing in Yucca Valley

On our last day In San Francisco, we decided to check out one more neighbourhood not too far from us. We ventured into Haight-Ashbury and had a nice time strolling in and out of the unique clothing shops before having an early lunch and heading back to Golden Gate Park so that J could stretch his legs and play for awhile. Tyler headed back to check out Amoeba records, a huge music store with tons of records.

haight ashbury

amoeba records

golden gate park

Our very last stop was the Ice Cream Bar – a huge ice cream cone for Julian and a banana split to share for us. Not just any banana split either – a caramelized banana topped with 3 flavours of homemade ice cream, whipping cream, nuts, and chocolate syrup. Our flight into Palm Springs was pretty late at night, so we all tried to rest a bit before packing up and heading on out to the airport.

ice cream bar

Ice cream bar

One of the neatest parts about visiting California is the awesome diversity of the landscape. It’s a pretty huge state, I suppose, and when we woke up after our arrival to Yucca Valley all thoughts of the ocean were gone while I marvelled at a different kind of stark beauty. This area reminded me more of Arizona with the flat spaces and dry brush, the prickly pear cactus, and the spindly sharp trees.

We spent the weekend with my friend Allison and her parents at their home in Yucca Valley and George and Mary, two of the most kind-hearted people I’ve ever met, went out of their way to treat us like the most welcomed guests with coffee and cookies, plus a plan for the day to show us the best tastes and views of the city.

view

Julian discovered a love for peanut M&M’s in Yucca Valley. Mary had thoughtfully placed a few bowls of the shiny candies around the house and at first he thought they were balls (ball-ball! as he says). He was playing with them, letting them drop and roll, and his delight at finding the scattered chocolate made me realize Easter could be a lot of fun this year.

Next, he pretended to feed them to a lizard statue he’d become friends with. Then I guess he decided to try them himself. Mama!!! he exclaimed happily, dashing over to me with drips of yellow and red on his chin. I was a bit worried at first he’d choke, but he was gobbling them up and never had a problem. This photo isn’t staged – we found it like this. I guess J didn’t mind sharing.

lizard eating cookie

In terms of getting acclimatized to another new place. Julian was just great at going with the flow and he was a bit shy but warmed up quickly, happily eating the fresh melon and berries, and checking out the cool Western themed knick-knacks around the house. He particularly liked the turtles outside, petting each one carefully.

yucca valley front yard

We headed over to John’s place, a local diner for tasty charbroiled burgers smothered with Thousand island dressing, before going to take in a gorgeous view of Yucca Valley, then a drive over to Joshua Tree National park. We did a bit of a walk there, checking out the neat looking trees and smooth rocks. It was the perfect activity for a curious kid who loves to be outdoors, and the rest of us were pretty happy to talk and take in the sunshine.

me and J

Joshua tree national park

Joshua tree park

desert flowers

park

We had a nice dinner of chicken tacos at a local Mexican place, and just hung out afterwards, enjoying the pleasant evening air, the golden setting sun, and the warm company. Julian was enthralled by the rainbow pinwheel spinning madly in the gentle breeze, and had the best time in the motorhome pretending to drive and beeping the horn.

playing

shed

The next day we headed over to Cabazon Dinosaurs, you know…from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure? (Tyler knew!) Julian loved playing around the giant creatures and the weather turned a bit chilly and grey, perfectly suited for the giant Apatosaurus, and Mr. Rex, a 100-ton Tyrannosaurus rex who half-smiled, half-leered at us as we stopped to take photos. We also went up inside to check out the gift shop (a lady stopped me to chow me a photo of her son, because he had red hair like Julian) and let Julian play on a little red stage outside.

Cabazon dino

t rex

Cabazon t rext toe

stage

Isn’t it funny when you can meet people for the first time, spend a couple days together, and then on parting it seems you’ve known each other for a long time? Our friends dropped us off at our resort in Palm Springs after a nice dinner at the Spaghetti Factory and it was hard to say goodbye even though we’d really only just met. They were so good to us, really making us feel taken care of like they were our own parents in a home away from home.