Friday, March 8, 2013

Quick Takes (volume 16)

For my New Year's Resolution, I decided to write down one memory a day in a diary. I haven't been very good at memory-keeping in general recently (obviously not here, but not in other ways either--I've hardly even been taking pictures!), so I thought this would be a simple way to do it. And, I hope that next year, I can continue to use the same diary, adding a new 2014 entry below 2013's, so we will be able to look back and remember what was going on this year.

You can see where this is going, right? I have not been doing well keeping up with this goal. It took me almost a month to even buy a diary, then another week or two to remember to write in it for the first time. Now I usually remember to write in it every 4th day or so, and have to try and remember things that happened. :/

But, I am writing down memories, even if not every day, and I will be so glad that I did in years to come. So, glass half full, right?

The whole first take is a round-about way of saying, I am totally going to be plagiarising myself from my diary onto these here quick takes (and probably in the future as well) so that I have something to share with you all.  

My birthday is coming up this weekend. 30. Can. not. believe it. I'm pretty sure I am not yet an adult, despite the marriage and kid and house thing, so I'm not quite sure how I am turning 30. Mostly I'm not too concerned about the milestone-y-ness of it, although a little bit of me is freaking out inside. Not really sure why, as I am pretty happy with how these first three decades have turned out, but. You know. 30!?!

We're planning on going to London on Saturday, to see the Science Museum (as I have never been) and probably take Gus to see the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum as well. We'll see how long we spend in the first one, though, and how we're feeling before going into the dinosaurs. That is the awesome thing about museums in London--many of them are free, so you don't feel like you have to spend all day in there, to the point of exhaustion and crankiness, to get your money's worth. I think it will be good.

Plus, I am planning on getting lunch at the Real Food Market at Southbank Centre (mmm, posh street food) and dinner at Mildred's vegetarian restaurant in Soho.  It is going to be an awesome day :)

Gus is just excited because we will be going on a bus, a train, and an underground train on Saturday.

He has obviously heard me say (many times, probably) that he loves buses. One day last week I told someone that, and he added "And trains and tractors and trucks." Now he regularly tells me what he loves, whether those things, or certain books, or (kind of randomly) the orange fish on a blanket. Good that he knows what he likes!

building, with the machines in the background
I mentioned in my last post that Gus was playing trains non-stop. Well, since then, he has moved on to Bob the Builder. All day long, all I hear is "Let's fix something! Let's get to work! Can we fix it?" He's been watching (too much of) the show as well, so we are always repairing Mr Bentley's cottage or asking Farmer Pickles to help. It is quite amusing, although quite tiring to sit and watch / play with him for hours and hours is exhausting. He has spent the last couple weeks in a particularly needy phase. While I can acknowledge intellectually that it is just a phase and he needs me close for a particular reason of development or some such thing, emotionally, I just want to scream "Give me 5 minutes of peace!!!" Thankfully, he actually let me do things for short periods today while he played by himself, so we might be returning to a balance that is a bit easier for me.

Outside, Gus has been busy digging for bones everywhere we go. My goodness, can this boy get dirty! He lies down on the ground, just to get a really good look, and digs with his hands or a nearby stick. Luckily, he, and his clothes, wash clean (more or less). And really, we can't let a bit of dirt stand in the way of important discoveries, can we?
watching Bob the Builder with Dizzy

Hope you have a lovely weekend!  As always, check out Jen for more Quick Takes! 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Quick Takes (volume 15)


I'm probably going to jinx it by typing this, but I think Gus is potty trained. We started in November, and had some difficulties, but were doing pretty well by the time we went to the USA for Christmas. Then we had a bit of a disaster for three weeks, brought about by the combination of being out of our normal routine, jet lag and general tiredness, too much fun to be had, and probably an overly strict pottying schedule. So when we got back home in January (after the jet lag) we had a bit of a restart, where we let Gus actually experience what a full bladder felt like, and I really, really, tried to trust Gus when he said he did or did not have to pee. And within about 3 weeks, he was consistently asking to go potty, usually in time to actually get onto the potty. So glad we did it, but probably one of the hardest things we have done since becoming parents. Definitely wish we had done better at trusting and listening to Gus from the beginning of it, rather than just planning to do that, but it all came good in the end. And I don't think he is too scarred from the process!

Two of my favourite quotations from Gus during our potty learning adventure:
  • "Big boys do not use the potty!"
  • (As Jon is dressing Gus after Gus had an accident and did not want to sit on the potty) "I'm going to pee in the black trousers next." And sure enough, he peed in them less than five minutes later!
new haircut
Enough with the potty talk.  Next item in the "big boy" news category: we have cut Gus's hair! After the last time we tried to cut his hair (last May!) where he cried so much I had to stop the haircut after only a few minutes (and half done), I was too scared to take him again. We've cut his bangs (fringe) a couple of times since then, and that has been pretty much fine, so he has probably been ready for a while. And I actually did get up the courage to do it one day in the fall, and the salon I wanted to go to was closed for the day! So we went a few weeks ago. He climbed up on the chair, held a Percy train toy in one hand, ate a snack with the other, and looked out the window at the buses going past. And he was fine! He looked a bit unsure about it, but not upset, and I tried to stay really positive and upbeat about it. It was really not a big deal. We went out for lunch after, and two strangers called him a boy!  I generally didn't mind when people called him a girl (although it was beginning to bother Jon), but even I thought that getting called "Princess" multiple times on our journey to the US was a bit much. He also looks so much older now. Yikes!

It was Ash Wednesday this week. I noticed something while I was fasting this week. I cannot remember the last time I actually felt hungry and didn't immediately search out something to eat. We are so blessed to be able to have (mostly) nutritious food available at any time and place, but it is definitely something I take for granted. And really, the hunger that I felt was based on eating three small but adequate meals over the course of the day. A lot more than many people get. 

Also on the topic of food: I am taking an online course through on the American Food System and Public Health. It is so interesting. I am only halfway through the 6-week course, so there's a lot left to learn. But so far, I have been astonished by the amount of water and energy that it takes to grow our food, saddened by the deterioration of precious farmland that is happening due to intensive farming practices, and kind of grossed out by descriptions of industrial meat production. Of course, I'm already a vegetarian, so that last one is kind of to be expected. The real focus of this course is how the way our food is produced affects the health of the country, especially through "externalities" of the food production process, such as pesticide use affecting people living in rural communities, antibiotics in meat contributing towards antibiotic-resistance bacteria causing human illness, and how the health of future generations might be affected by the way we grow food now, among other things. However, our food and farming policy is not influenced by health concerns, although what we eat is intimately linked to our health. I hope that the next three weeks also include some solutions for how we can move toward a more sustainable system. I really do have a lot of thoughts on this topic--I should write a whole post about it!

just before his haircut, playing matching game
Gus seems to be playing trains all day every day at the moment. He still loves buses (loves them! one of his other favourite activities is to look at pictures on buses on Google images), but the main characters of his recent games are two engines that he calls James and Emily. He plays with Emily, and I usually have to be James. They travel all around the living room, pulling coaches, going through tunnels, meeting buses, resting in the shed, etc. It is so funny to listen to. As you might guess, he has also been watching Thomas and Friends, and sometimes I can hear lines from the show in his commentary, although often he makes his own stories as well. 

I'll leave you with a recent tidbit from Gus. When he was told it was time to get ready for bed, he responded,
The only option is to play!!

Have a happy weekend! And don't forget to check out Jen's for more quick takers.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

We recently returned from three weeks visiting family in the US (such a great trip!). On the way back, Gus got a chance to play airplane while waiting for our plane at Chicago (not international terminal--that is just rubbish. Termnals 2/3 are excellent, though.) We were lucky we arrived so early to the airport, as Gus played in the kids' area for a good hour and could have gone on longer. It was perfect preparation for our overnight flight (i.e. it wore him out!)

Gus and Pa in the play airplane
Gus and Mama flying a helicopter

working very hard to move the luggage from the cargo hold to the "bus"

the airplane. you could also pilot the plane, go up in the control tower, weight the luggage, and more!
Thank you O'Hare and the Children's Museum of Chicago for the great space to play!
Happy New Year!  (It's still January, so I can still say that, right?)

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Non-Craft

I love the idea of crafts, but I have never been very good at transforming ideas into action. So I do not do crafts with Gus nearly as much as I would like. (I think I need to get a book. I don't really come up with my own ideas, and the internet is generally too overwhelming for this sort of thing!) However, I did see this on Pinterest the other week and thought it was easy enough that even I could do it! And I made it even easier, for good measure ;)

Gus with his bus

You can't see the bus too well in the picture, but basically all I did was draw a big bus on a blank piece of paper. I had originally planned to print one off the internet, like this one, but I thought it would be quicker just to draw it. My drawing wasn't spectacular, bus Gus knew it was a bus, and that was all that mattered. I just made sure that the bus took up as much of the page as possible, then drew two rows of windows, to make it a double-decker.

Next, we grabbed a stack of magazines and started tearing / cutting out pictures of people and animals to go on our bus. The plan was to glue or tape them in the windows of the bus, as if the passengers were looking out the windows. But Gus wasn't that fussed about this being a realistic representation, so we just pasted them wherever.

The thing I loved about this activity was that it was super-simple, but the pay-off for this bus-loving boy was huge! He loved this bus. For the rest of the day, and even a few days after, he kept saying "Look at your [my] bus!" and including it in our play, as can be seen by the animals in the above picture looking at the bus.  I think children really enjoy being able to create things, especially those that they see every day. Now, not every child is bus-mad like mine, but I think this would also work really well with a picture of a house or airplane or castle or something like that.

Happy (non-)crafting!

Gus says...

There are so many things going on right now that I just do not want to forget. You know those moments where you just wished you had a video camera to record the thing that just happened? (And since I lost my new camera only 4 months after I got it, I don't have any video camera. sad face). I guess written records will have to do.

Gus loves to make funny faces and do jokes at the moment. For about a week, at every diaper change he would say "Change your diaper on the chair? Change your diaper on the ceiling? Change your diaper on the moon?!" He would just laugh and laugh after every one. (Okay, we would laugh, too.) This week he likes to be Gus Pie, and Jon, myself, or one of the stuffed animals gobbles him up. He'll ask the toy "Would you orange? No! Would you apple? No! Would you like...a lemon? No! Would you like...Gus Pie?"
Gus funny face
Gus making his (blurry) funny face

About a week or so ago we started playing dragons with him. We look for dragons around the house, or Jon or I puts a green blanket over our head to pretend to be a dragon. He has picked up from us to say "Listen out!" (covering his ear with his hand as he listens), to which we respond with a roaaar! (He became interested in dragons through the book When the Dragons Came, which is an excellent book. Gus can pretty much recite the whole thing, as well!)

Gus's favourite toys at the moment are buses and cars and trains.We like to make little towns out of blocks that the buses can drive to and drop the passengers off at. But apparently (I did not know this) buses can also have good conversations with each other. And trains are as good a friend as any doll. Case in point: we are getting our kitchen remodeled, so I was clearing out the cupboards. I had put one of the boxes full of stuff in front of the sink, and it was the perfect height for Gus to step on to and reach the sink and the few items in it. So he sits the digger next to him, and for the next 20 or 30 minutes, I hear "Would you like a drink digger? Good drink, digger. Digger finished the drink. Gus like a drink, too." as he concocts "drinks" and "snacks" for himself and the digger!
Gus, his digger, and his towers
A few words he has been testing out recently:

  • actually. "Shop is that way, actually." (I turned right out of the park to go round the lake to the shop. Apparently Gus wanted to turn left and go the slightly longer way.)
  • some. "Some cats like to be stroked." (after I told him we couldn't pet a strange cat, since I didn't know if it liked to be stroked)
  • might. "Pa might mend it when he gets home." (I don't think he totally understands the meaning of might, and often uses it to mean will.)
  • Practising negatives. "Somebody is not in the park" when the park is empty. Or, after we get on the bus and he notices the driver's hat "Some drivers have no hat on." Definitely getting his meaning across, even if the constructions are slightly different than I would do!

Monday, September 17, 2012

What's New with Gus

I've been really enjoying watching Gus interact with others recently. He can be really shy and quiet, but once he decides a person is his friend, watch out, because he will not leave them alone!  We had a bunch of Jon and my friends over the other week, and Gus immediate latched on to our friend Gary. Poor Gary was trying to talk to people, and Gus just kept bringing him books, saying "Okay! Okay!" (his way of indicating that he wants to be read to). Luckily, Gary got a reprieve when the one other child showed up--Gus immediately made a beeline for Imogen. He brought her pretty much every toy in the house, trying to get her to play with him, which was sweet, but rather overwhelming for Imogen!

Gus is still at the stage where he doesn't actually play too much with other children. He loves to be with older children and copy them best he can, but when we meet up with other children Gus's age, they don't really play together too much. He is actually more likely to try and get one of the other parents to play with / read to him. He does love getting together with his friends, though, and he talks about them for days after seeing them. One day, his friend Luke was over at our house, and Gus just snuck up behind him to give him a great big hug! I think Luke was a bit taken aback, because when Gus tried to hug him a second time, he refused with a bit of a push. I tried to explain to Gus that, actually, you can't just go and hug a person like that with no warning or consent, and Luke was kind of within his rights to defend his own personal space. But I'm not sure Gus got it. We'll keep working on that one.

Another thing Gus loves at the moment is babies. I mean, really, who doesn't? Luke from the story above actually has a new baby brother. Gus wasn't quite sure the first time I held the new baby, but ever since then, has really loved him. One day he asked to hold the baby and ended up sitting on the couch with baby on his lap for 15 minutes. Then he asked me to put the baby on the floor and proceeded to bring baby Tom all of his own favourite toys. Of course, large plastic buses aren't ideal for a newborn, but his heart was definitely in the right place.

Since quite a few people that we know have either just had or are expecting new babies, we asked Gus the other week what he would think about a new baby in our house. (Not by way of an announcement, just to see what he would say!) He thought that would be pretty cool, actually, and has even said he would share his milk with a new baby. He brought it up completely out of the blue a few days later, that he wants a new baby in our house. Later, when I was nursing Gus before bed, Jon asked him again if he would share his milk. Gus said, "Yeah. New baby have that milk" (i.e., the side he was not currently using). Very clever solution for that, Gus!

In other news, Gus is getting really into climbing all of a sudden. This week at the park, he has started climbing on the really big climbing frame. He can't get very far--yet!--but I love watching him work out where to go next and how to move his body. I am pretty chill about it at the moment, since he doesn't get more than a couple feet off the ground, but I might have to work at keeping calm as he learns to climb higher!

Gus also love love loves singing. his favourite song is The Wheels on the Bus (and has been for some time). We sing it together sometimes, but more often, I hear him singing it to himself. And he always does the "all day long" part REALLY LOUDLY! He also likes to sing This is the Way the Ladies Ride. This is a good song for smaller babies, because you can sit them on your lap and bounce them up and down--gently for the way the ladies ride, a bit more boisterous-ly for the gentlemen, then side to side for the farmer, who then falls in the ditch. Gus likes to sit on the arm of the couch and sing and bounce himself. When he gets to the falls in the ditch part, he throws himself onto the couch (or more often, my lap as I sit on the couch), laughing and generally having a whale of a time.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Stories about Gus

Jon and I took Gus to the "tiny park" near our house the other day. We call it the tiny park because it only has two swings, a slide, and a little monkey bars / climbing thing. But that is perfectly fine for our Gus, as he usually spends most of our time there on the swing. We were pushing Gus in the swing, Jon in front and myself in back, as per Gus's instructions, while he shouts out "Gus go high. Gus go bigger high. Gus go SUPER HIGH!"  By this time, I already had to lift my arms above my head to push him, so I think any higher and he would have been over the crossbar ;)

We were in the US visiting family for 3 wonderful weeks in July. We all had a great time seeing everyone, and Gus especially loved playing with his cousins. He of course had a special fondness / adoration for his cousin Ben, who is 3 years old. One night, he chased Ben for ages, round and round and round the house, trying to give him hugs. And, of course, knocking him over and falling right on top of him when he did manage to catch him!

We were lucky enough to be able to take Gus to the Olympics this month. We saw the women's trampolining qualification round and finals. We had told him ahead of time what we were going to do, so he kept talking about going to the 'Lympics to, in his words, "see people". An accurate description, to be sure, although maybe not as detailed as one might expect.

He did seem to enjoy it, though. Once there, he realised that the people were "jumping up and down and spinning!!" (He always said it in a very excited fashion--probably it would be more accurate to add a few more exclamation marks, actually.) We were very high up in the arena, though, so I was getting pretty nervous as he tried to run around in front of the empty seats next to us. I wasn't too disappointed when Gus fell asleep in my lap after the first round and slept through the whole finals! That way, he got to experience it, and then I got to actually see some of the competition, rather than just worrying about him the whole time!

And of course, the best part of his whole day was that we got to ride on "big green bus! And big choo choo train! And little choo choo train!"

We also watched a lot of Olympics on the television. I figured I can justify having the TV on for hours each day for two weeks every 4 years. We taught him to say both Go GB! and U-S-A! and now when we turn the TV on, Gus asks "Watch GB?"  He especially liked watching "Tom [Daley] jump in water." And the horses, but I couldn't keep the dressage on for more than a few minutes, even for Gus.  

We also spent a week in France with Jon's family. The house we were staying in had grape vines on the back patio, and we were allowed to eat any of the fruit there. Gus loved it. He got quite good at only picking the purple ones, although he did also enjoy picking unripe ones to throw to the birds. Oh well, I'm sure they appreciated it.


  As you can see, we have been pretty busy these last couple of months. Glad to be getting back into the swing of our normal routine, though, and hope that will extend to the blog as well!