Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Lion, the Witch and the Sushi

What do a lion and sushi have in common? Well, they both just sound absolutely adorable coming out of Lachlan's mouth. Lachlan is on this new kick; every time he hears the word lion he graces us with a cute little "Rooaar!" When he began doing this several weeks ago he sounded more like a lion cub with a hairball. I can proudly say that tonight he demonstrated much more gusto to his roar. This was prompted while reading Olivia's Opposites book. We turned to the page with 'quiet' and 'loud.' Perhaps Lachlan has learned how to read and finally realised his roar should be loud (okay, I'm dreaming) because as soon as he saw the lion he stopped a moment. Looked up at me with this look that said; 'I'm gathering up all my energy for this one' and before I knew it he sounded like the king of the jungle. We both began crawling on our hands and knees around his room roaring at one another. We were having so much fun that daddy decided to join in to. We were one happy Pride; mommy, daddy and our little lion cub.

We have also figured out that little lion cubs love sushi. Who would have thought? Lachlan gobbles it up and before you can say, 'nori' he's asking for another roll. I will add that he hasn't had proper raw sushi, it is the tuna rolls with avocado. I haven't braved giving him the good stuff yet, but he doesn't know the difference; whatever it is, it is manna to him. Yesterday he and I were on our way to go shopping and we were running behind schedule so I figured I'd feed him while we were out. I always like to talk to Lachlan in the car about where we are going and what we are doing. I kept mentioning that we were going to go get some sushi. "Remember, baby? You like sushi. I think it might be your favourite--sushi!" As we got out of the car and I buckled him in his stroller I said, "Here we go, off to get Baby Lachlan's sushi!" I was surprised by this little voice that responded--"she-she." I stopped and looked at him and said, "Yes, Lachlan--sushi!"...."'she-she" he repeated.I was so excited that he learned a new word. I was jumping up and down saying "Sushi, sushi we are getting sushi!" The people in the parking deck were looking at my like I was on drugs. I just smiled at them and said, "We're getting sushi." Lachlan and I walked into the mall and "she-she-ed" our way all the way to the sushi bar. I order my little baby his sushi. It was manna. He was in heaven.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Radio Flyer: An American Childhood

As you know, Lachlan turned one several weeks ago. For his birthday, he received many lovely gifts. There was one gift however that travelled a very long way to get to him. This gift was selected by two special people in his life. Special people, who in fact live so far away they haven't even had a chance to meet the little prince yet; but love him just the same. Those special people, his Grandpa Dave and Grandma Rhonda, put special thought into his gift, which was placed in a special box, travelled on a special FedEx flight over the Pacific, went through customs and arrived on our doorstep one week later.

I was excited when the package arrived as I already knew what was inside. Lachlan was sleeping so I had the delivery man place it in the garage in hopes that I could open it and put it together while my little prince was in slumber-land. When I opened the box a big smile came across my face. It was as if I was staring at a small glimpse of the past--my childhood which was long gone. There was red. Pure red. Not maroon or crimson or red-orange---just RED. The red of a Radio Flyer Wagon. What American child didn't know THAT red. The red that was so vibrant that kids a block away knew that you were pulling around a Radio Flyer. The Radio Flyer was a child's best friend. It was at least mine. I loved my little red wagon. How I loved it and abused it, like all good relationships. My wagon had been through the war of my childhood, must have hit every pot hole on that Maple Row, American street that I grew up on and would have turned over from every lousy crack and raised sidewalk in the neighborhood. That wagon had seen it all; lugged dirt, dolls, GI Joes, picnic lunches, jars of insects, pets and of course me. What kid did not try to go cruisin' down their neighbourhood hill in their little red wagon--only to of course topple over, skin their knees and bleed red--pure red, just like the wagon.

As I gazed down into the box I thought about my son. Now it is his turn to know the glories of the Red Wagon. The wagon which is made for 'every boy and every girl.' Of course his wagon is much more modernised than what I had. Radio Flyer has really supped up their models since the 1980's and 90's. His wagon is the Pathfinder model; made out of durable plastic complete with 4 sippy cup holders. Now makers are more into safety...something no one really thought much about when I was a kid. Lachlan's wagon converts into 2 seats with harnesses where he and a friend can sit...of course, while sipping their tea...uh, I mean juice box which so nicely sits in the cup holder.

I took the parts out of the box and very easily put together my son's first Radio Flyer. It was the first time where I couldn't wait for him to wake from his nap; I was eager to share this nostalgia with him. Lachlan did eventually wake. He had a big lunch and then was introduced to his very first Radio Flyer. At first he didn't know what to think. He was a tad bit squirmish when I tried to strap him in the wagon, but as soon as I clicked him in he was happy with his new wheels. He was now at his dog, Maxwell's eye level--that he liked. He could turn his head and see something from every angle, unlike when he is in his pram. We went for his first little ride around the back yard as a test run. A huge smile came across his face--the same smile that I'm sure I once had before my youth and innocence was gone. Around the yard we went; just me, my little son and our dog. Later we went for a walk to the park and Lachlan was literally 'bumpin' up and down in his little red wagon'----oh, he is my darlin'!

Every passerby stops and makes a comment about our lovely wagon. Even the elderly ask if they can take a ride...after all the bus stop is a long journey from our street. I have even found that Radio Flyer sells a UV Protection Canopy to fit the wagon. I have ordered one so our prince can ride in shade and style; a far car from my childhood. Either way, I'm just so happy and thrilled that my son can now live out a bit of an American childhood!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Hoop and Balls

Through my business, I often help parent and child care centres create activities that will promote healthy development and achievement of next milestones. There are so many things you can do with your child and they are very cost-effective. Generally, you will have the materials sitting around in your home somewhere or you can be creative and think of your own substitutes.

This hoop and balls activity is a great one which will stimulate several areas of development; both fine and gross motor, manipulative, sensory and cognitive. Depending on what your child decides to to with the materials, will determine which area gets exercised the most. The only materials you need are- as you may have guessed: a small hoop and one or two balls ( size of a tennis ball). I have decided to use textured balls; such as massage balls to allow for sensory development, but any ball will do.

Place the hoop on the ground and put one or two balls inside. I like to have materials set up before Lachlan wakes in the morning or afternoon; this way when he walks into the room he is greeted with new objects, uninfluenced of how I sat them down or moved them. See what your little one does. He may be intrigued by the ball and decide to explore that first. Perhaps he like the hoop. He'll be working on different grasps as he picks up both of these objects. At some point he will realise that if he moves or drags the hoop, the ball will move with it. The direction and way he moves the hoop will determine the direction the ball rolls and how fast or slow it will go. This process shows cause and effect while exercising his manipulative and gross motor skills. Lachlan also discovered that he could put him self inside the hoop, either by crawling into the hoop or by lifting it an placing it around him. For obvious reasons, you should always supervise your children when they are playing with the hoop. They may get aggravated if they can't remove the loop from around them and could pull it towards their neck during this frustration. As with all activities, keep a close watch and offer guidance when needed.

Try adding these other ideas for additional play:
  • Add cars with the hoop (the hoop makes a nice 'speed bump' obstacle
  • Older children can play a ring toss came with the hoops and buckets
  • Toddlers can practice hooping other larger objects such as a bucket, doll, basket etc and practice pulling them towards them.
  • School-age children can practice rotating the hoop around their foot and jumping over it with the opposite foot. They can also use it as a hula hoop for their waist, neck and arms.
  • Have more ideas? Please leave a comment and share with others!

Stand By Me

Our little prince is getting more brave every day. Recently we've been catching him play this new game he's invented. He finds a wall or uses his cot railing and while standing lets go to see how to see how long he can stand independently until he flops back on the ground. The first time I noticed this he was in bed and I was trying to convince him that it was time to go to sleep for the night. Of course, as most babes, he had other plans of his own and he was not going to settle in for the tonight until he was satisfied with his task. With a huge smile on his face he wobbled like a tower of Jell-o until he crash landed on his bum.

As Lachlan has been getting more confident in his balance, he has been testing it more and more. He enjoys holding on to something with one hand and then balancing on one foot. He likes to take this a bit further and trys to lean to the side while on one foot. Part of me thinks that he might have a shot in a ballet company in the future. I certainly find it interesting and also entertaining to watch him come up with all these new tricks while he tests out his abilities. I often don't know what his overall goal is, but he does and when he accomplishes something he gets so excited; the smile on his face says it all.

The last few weeks Lachlan has been testing the waters with trying to stand by himself for longer periods of time. I happened to glance over at him while he was quietly playing; trying to get a toy out of a basket and he stood for five seconds unassisted. This has been the longest thus far and I was so proud of him!

Who knows when he'll be ready to walk. He is getting more interested, that's for sure; as he uses any thing he can find as a walker. He is also starting to get more restless during the night, when he usually sleeps through. Our brain, a most amazing organ actually maps out the first walking steps while you are sleeping. To do this, it stays in active sleep a lot longer than in deep sleep. This is why many parents often around 9-12 months, often feel like their child's routine has gone out the window and wonder what on earth is going on; their once perfect, sleep-through- the- night bub is now waking every few hours! Well, little bub can't help it. His brain is on a map out mission, connecting all the dots, piecing everything together which it has observed in the world around him to create a single movement- the first step. I told you it was amazing stuff! As parents, all we can do is be patient during this time and ride it out. You'll often find that when your bub gets up in the middle of the night, they are not fully awake and seem somewhat 'out-of-it.' Some parents describe their child as having a glazed look on his face, while others eyes are completely shut but they are crawling or pulling up in their cots. Though the child may be conscious of what is going on around him, he is actually still in a state of active sleep. The best thing to do is to not disturb this state. Once he wakes from active sleep, you will have a hard time putting him back to sleep. Either see if he'll put himself back to sleep or help him if he is upset by giving him a pat or 'shhhh' or reminding him that he can use his comforter such as a pacifier or blankie. Avoid taking him out of his cot, which may wake him. Generally children fall back to sleep; some will sleep on until morning and others may repeat this process every few hours or so,as the sleep cycle repeats itself. If meeting the next milestone is the cause of his sleep disruptions, you should notice a big difference after he starts walking. Parents are often amazed by this revelation and can't believe it until they witness it for themselves or think back and say, "Ahhhhh, yes. That explains a lot!" Pre-walking isn't the only time time when the brain acts up in this fashion; any big milestone acts as a trigger. Lachlan went through the same process right before he began crawling. He'd constantly wake and I'd see him half asleep trying to push up on his hands and knees.

Once you understand what is going on inside the brain of your little one, you actually tend to feel quite sympathetic towards their situation. So have patience. It is one of the MANY challenging phases- with lots more soon to come! Until then, happy walking...and sleeping!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A One Year Journey

Well, Sunday, 7 March was a big day in our home. Our little prince turned one year old; a whole year's journey complete, one which brought his mommy and daddy abundant joy and happiness. It of course was a big day for Lachlan, as we celebrated the day he made his arrival into this world one Saturday morning at 9:32AM when he saw his first glimpse of light and was welcomed with open arms by those who could only dream of what he might look like, who he might become. His birthday is also a big day for me and Lachlan's father. The momentous occasion is obvious for a mother; a day I had been waiting 9 months for wondering what the labour experience was going to be like and how would I handle it. Once Lachlan was born, all of that seemed trivial. I no longer cared about the grouchy mid-wife or the forceps delivery. At that moment, I was a mother. I had finally evolved into this role that I had been waiting for most of my life. A role that we know the meaning of, but soon realise how little we know about it until we become one. All the emotions: the tears of happiness and worry that can consume you...and of course there is that mama bear protective instinct that wishes you could just shield your precious baby from any sadness or pain. My husband felt many of the same feelings, but fatherly and motherly love are very different I believe. We are made up of a completley different balance of hormones after all! For him though, his mind was also consumed with pure love and he too was oblivious to former worries he had about the labour. He thought he'd be grossed out by the sight of the process and was determined he was not going to cut the chord. But in the end, he was immuned to all of it, as I know he would be and proudly cut the chord and watched his son take his first independent breath.  Now we were both parents, now the true journey begins we thought.

I remember bringing Lachlan home from the hospital. He looked like a little baby doll sitting in the carseat, drowning in a onesie that was way too big for him. Ky-Anh so carefully buckled him in the seat; holding up traffic while a car was waiting for our parking spot. Normally he might rush, but not today. He calmly made sure his new bundle of joy was safe and secure. As he closed the car door he smiled and waved to the cars and proudly said, "Sorry, it is a big day and I'm new at this." He walked with joy in his step to the drivers door and off we went.For months after we arrived home we would find ourselves just standing and staring down into the bassinet at Lachlan. To us, he was perfect and every little smile or passing of gas was adorable.

Now, he is one. He's more independent and exploring the world around him every chance he gets. He's still that happy little baby that we brought home from the hospital... and we certainly have had it easy with him. Lachlan is just a really laid back kid; provide him with food, milk and a book and he'll be content for hours. We are so proud of all his achievements this last year and all the milestones that he was worked so diligently to master. He's securely attached and very affectionate towards others. He's done all right...and mommy and daddy have done all right by him too. I've observed and documented a lot of children's behaviour, but nothing is more rewarding than tracking my own son's. I often think this is how Piaget must have felt while documenting his children's development--pure joy and fascination; they teach us so much, if we are willing to learn.

So happy birthday, Lachlan! You have made your mommy very proud. Perhaps if you read these short, little memoirs some day, you'll be reminded of how much happiness you have brought into my little world. Your father and I will always be there for you, to support you and encourage you as you go through the rest of life's journey. We will hold your hand when you need us and step back when you need to face life's challenges on your own, but we will never be too far away; even if it is just by a phone call. Whatever you decide to become in this life, we will be there for you. We only wish that whatever it is, it will bring you happiness and fulfillment, and goodness to others. This world is full of choices, many not easy to make. There are a lot of challenges you may encounter; inequality, discrimination and injustice; the list could go on. I know that you will rise above them, do what is right and be a better person because of them. I might even disappoint you, as parents sometimes do; mother's aren't perfect either, but our love is; always remember that. I love you and look forward to many more years of sharing this journey together....okay...mommy has to go get a tissue now! ;-)

Make-Shift Walker

Lachlan is a cost-effective genius already.If we were living in the U.S, I tell you this kid would be recession ready, He has a walker that was given to him as a baby present, but of course, being the 'thinker' that he is, he needed to come up with his own inventions. First he discovered that if he was in the hexagonal play ring on the back porch, he could stand up using it as support and push it around by walking forward. He cruises along a much as he can with a massive ring around him and 100 balls being pushed behind him as we have been using it as a ball pit.

Today he bypassed the walker gift while inside and went straight for one of our dining room chairs. We have wooden floors and the chairs have felt pads underneath them. He figured out that he can use the chair as a walker and slide around the dining room, into the kitchen and the lounge room. He really thinks his little invention is quite clever. He's right. The walker was going way too quickly for him on the wood floor and he nearly wiped out a few times, thankfully mommy was around. The chair is much more sturdy and he can control the pace more easily. When he was done with the chair, he found a nice sturdy square basket that does the trick. It is much lighter and easier to maneuver.

He's a little resourceful possum already, I tell you :-) So why spend money on a walker you'll bub will probably use just a few months when you might have something just as good at home already!?  Let's hope he is this innovative when he's a teenager and wants a car. Perhaps he can make on out of a cardboard box and some jar lids...okay, okay; that's crazy talk-- a plastic box would be more sturdy, don't ya think?!