Sunday, January 18, 2015

The shiniest car

Tyler returns home, and his sister and I hug him. He has a nice homecoming, reacquainting himself with his toys, and his environment. He has gained a couple of Monster Truck Hot Wheels vehicles, and a truck he put together at the car show. He's a big presence in the house, and I can feel my mother-in-law fade to the background as she interacts with him and attends to him.

The kids are each other's best playmates, with the most experience negotiating, sharing, and imagining through the same scenarios. They improvise with each other and feed off each other.

He's very chatty, having spent the weekend with two five-year olds, and asserting himself in a crowd. He's had a fun weekend and been on long journeys.

By all accounts, it seems like the best kind of daddy/son weekend, spent doing stuff together.

Quietly he tells me he was thinking about me. He says he chose the shiniest car for me at the car show.

His lunch is made, his backpack is ready to go, and he's gone to bed. I'm happy to have him back, and his dad too!

Divide & conquer

My spouse took Tyler for a three night road trip with his car club buddies. Tyler had a couple of older boys to play with, and devoted daddy time. From the pictures, it looks like he had a great time. It's Sunday night, and I'm waiting for his return, on a school night.

Meanwhile, Ashley has had the attention of my mother-in-law and I all weekend. We splurged by going out to a local restaurant on Friday, and on Saturday headed down to do an errand and stop by the Royal Ontario Museum, where we have a family membership (the named adults are my mother-in-law and I, as I guessed correctly that it would us who would be going. I took her to church solo this morning and when I picked her up from her preschool class she was playing at the sand table with 5 other kids. We took her to Costco after lunch and she and I goofed around. We have a few inside jokes, her and I...

She is sophisticated. We have moved past physical humour into verbal exchanges that amuse us both. She is getting to be better and better company. It's been a calm weekend. It would have been lonely without my mother-in-law these few days, so it has worked out well, to share in the care of Ashley, and to do things for each other as well.

If the three of us were completely healthy, I would have suggested we go to Ripley's Aquarium. It's something Tyler might not like, but I'm sure my mother-in-law and Ashley would have. Another time...

Cleaning up

I took the opportunity in some free time I had to clean up...I filled four garbage bags with stuffed animals and stashed them in the space under the stairs. I went through the toys and pulled out the ones they'd both outgrown. I organized the remaining toys, and I hope it will allow them to focus their play. As I say this, however, my daughter has just scattered all the dollhouse furniture on the floor....sigh...

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Grown-up kids

The past couple of weeks I've been thinking about gift-giving. It was an "easy" Christmas in terms of shopping this year, in that I bought gifts online for the kids in August, and the three nieces prefer to receive $$$ - the wish that buys other wishes - for their own future spending. I also bought my parents' gifts online during the summer too.

I think I'm now in a mode of being on the lookout all year round, and buying when there are sales, and saving up gifts for occasions. I have gifts in reserve for kids' birthday parties we/they are invited to, baby showers, impromptu out-of-town visits from friends with children, play dates hosted by others...

As I'm looking online today, I am buying for my niece's April, but also, since it's the online Lego store, there are some free stand-alone add-ons that would be good for Valentine's Day, or Chinese New Year...

I think I will always be a kid at heart - I much prefer to have "gift with purchase" when it comes to Lego, than, say, Clinique bonus time...

I also like Kinder Surprise eggs almost as much as the kids do. I like that it's not just about eating candy, but a small toy that can be built and be a momentary diversion. For my two kids, it's a double bonus, because they are both flexible about swapping, and sharing.

I buy educational toys that I myself would have some interest in playing with, or engaging with. I am selective in the books, magazines, board games, card games, and other print-based toys they receive also. I join in playing with Play-Doh sometimes, and I like playing with new Play-Doh just as much as the kids' do, rather than fight with the muted purple, grayish, "still good" batch.

My spouse is the same way - he has "classic" toys of his childhood that he is slowly passing down to the kids, though he has robots in the original packaging that may never see the light of day. We also picked up a PS4 and WiiU, and these are for the whole family.

We will transition eventually to a time when the kids will have allowances, and full spending authority over relatives and others giving cash gifts, and they will make their own decisions, good and bad, about spending. I really think the best way to learn about money is to handle it on your own, and to experience some buyers' remorse. But for now, they are in a 'receiving' mode, and we are trying not to spoil them. It's difficult when you are spoiling yourself as well.