Twos (or things to do with kids in KW)
For two weeks, we had the company of my family with us (minus two). I especially treasured moments between our two-year old and her cousin, who at six months younger, seemed to equal in height and just a bit more solid in terms of weight.
While it seemed like they took some time to get used to the presence of each other, by the end of the visit, they played and interacted with each other without needing any encouragement from us. I now know that Bean is capable of independent play (the adults spent a whole meal eating around the dining table while the two played in the play area)! This visit seemed like they were closer than their time spent in California together, even though that was only a few months prior.
I worried that Bean was going to have some withdrawal, but she seems to be coping it quite well; Mommy might be the one that ends up in withdrawal as she settles us back into a quieter routine that will likely be marked with hibernation tendencies due to the cooler weather.
The two weeks seemed to go by quickly, as each day was packed with an activity, with only one or two days of resting at home. I discovered that it’s more fun and motivating to do things with others – and that there is a lot of low to no-cost activities offered here in region! Each day required some flexibility, as we often didn’t leave the house until past 10:30 or 11am, but nap times were generally around 2:30pm – sometimes in the car.
- Cousin’s wedding at Creekside Estate Winery: a lovely intimate evening outdoor wedding, with traditions brought in from the bride and groom’s culture – Metis and Chinese (including a tying ceremony and mooncakes). However, I couldn’t bring myself to try the cheese and crackers that many of the fruit flies feasted on – they can’t be avoided at this time of the year because of the grapes they say); we managed to catch the super moon / lunar eclipse!
- Outlet Collection at Niagara – I found it to be more spacious with better food selection / food courts than Premium Outlets – though we managed to squeeze in a 30-minute power shopping stop at those outlets too in Milton on the way to the airport
- August 8: The Golden Lotus buffet at Fallsview charges a ridiculous $16 for a 2-year old (same until 10 years old) even though the adults are $20. How many two year olds can eat the same amount as a ten-year old, or 4/5ths of an adult? I enjoyed the variety and quality of the kitchen (cooked) options. They charge a more reasonable $1.20 per year of the child (free under 2). As it turns out mind you, August 8 pricing is actually more per person than Fallsview (because Lotus includes tax and it’s lower per adult), so had we gone, Golden Lotus would’ve saved us at least $16 in the end despite the $16 meal for the 2-year old. Ah well, at least we can say we tried August 8 now.
- Early Years Centre: Music & Movement scheduled program meant that they participated in some songs and parachute fun. It was C’s first time, but she wasn’t shy about it the second time we went; they also had the opportunity to play on the Little Tikes plastic playground items in the open gym and little odds and ends in the Orange Room
- Pioneer Park Library: C was around for our first toy-borrowing experience so she got to play with some new toys with Bean. Bean is now super excited when she sees a new toy from the library.
- St. Jacob’s and Anna Mae’s (Millbank): We also checked out the newly rebuilt St. Jacob’s market on a Thursday, and even though it was a weekday, it was bustling with people and it seemed a lot bigger in general: with vendors outside and inside of three separate buildings! At one booth, the woman remembered me from the Etsy show two weeks ago, and I found out that she sells her Calendula balm was actually $2 cheaper at the market – and it seemed to be an already reasonable price at the show! ($10 tax in at the market). We managed to catch a filling lunch at Anna Mae’s, a place my parents actually stumbled upon years back, famous for their broasted chicken and pies.
- The Museum: It was pretty much deserted at the Museum, which allowed ample time and space for them to play and explore. The two probably spent the most time in the infant and toddler area and the boat water station (just playing with the water, not exactly directing the boats downstream). Sadly, the top floor is now more geared for adults as opposed to children – gone is the sticker and balloon rooms and the science and nutrition stations. Bean enjoyed watching her grandfather flap his arms to a dinosaur game and playing in the color-changing sand pit; she also loved the star show (where we blasted off to many planets, including Jupiter, resulting in her new favourite planet and her frequent reminder asking me, “Do you remember we went to Jupiter?”) but C was “all done” had to leave shortly after it begun (fear of the dark?).
- Waterloo Park (Zoo): Bean was a lot more hesitant about the animals roaming around behind the fences at Waterloo Park, but C seemed to enjoy them, especially the llamas, since she knows a song about them. It seems like many of the animals seems to have disappeared, leaving behind overgrown and/or empty habitats including the bunnies and pigs.
- Shantz Family Farm: This farm is just five minutes down the road from us – I don’t know why we haven’t gone to it before as everything, including the corn maze is free. The two girls loved the plastic play toys (Little Tikes houses and slides) in the children’s straw maze area and Bean had a great time with accessible banana seat swings (as opposed to the diaper seats). When we visited on a weekday, it looked abandoned but this past Thanksgiving Monday, it was bustling with families – what a contrast! Bean was afraid of the animals during her first visit, but seemed to warm up to them to the point of wanting to watch and “feed” them on Thanksgiving Monday.
- Kitchener Market for Saturday produce and bacon shopping, iced pineapple tea and breadbaron, with a side visit to the Asian supermarket down the street. The children’s program was a bit too advanced for the two kids but they tried to glue a fall wreath together anyway.
- Oktoberfest: Because their visit coincided with the beginning of Oktoberfest, we took a trip downtown to check out the street vendors and happened to wander into Hockeytown instead. I thought it was a bit strange that Oktoberfest was so hockey-fied and thought maybe they were sponsors until I later learned that they were two different events in the same area. I think we enjoyed hockeytown more as they had more kid-friendly activities and freebies (including a free jersey for children under 16!).
- Stratford – The Sound of Music: The grandparents and j.w lovingly stayed at home to babysit while the sisters had a date to see the Sound of Music in Stratford (40 min leisurely drive – it seems like a lot shorter drive than 40 minutes on the 401 towards Toronto for some reason), thanks to a Groupon-advertised $40 deal. We sat a row apart, next to the sound booth, but the view was great and the sound booth wasn’t much of a distraction – other than me noticing that the guy had the script and music score of the entire play in a binder and would be following along (though at times, he had to catch up a few pages); I do wonder if the AV guy has memorized most of it by now or is bored from seeing it over and over. My short review as posted on Facebook:
Wasn’t sure it was worth seeing the Sound of Music twice, but it was different enough and surprisingly, I enjoyed Stratford’s version more than Toronto’s – the key characters were believable, and I welcomed the comic relief (Max and the “cowboys” as referenced in the review – one vignette coincided well with Oktoberfest). If you have time before the season ends, go catch it!
When dining out, we celebrated my sister’s birthday at Dels and treated my mom to the westernized version of pig ears (fried and savoury sweet) at Fork and Cork Grill. We also managed two lunch visits to Mikey’s and shared some deep-fried tofu (they previously liked) and introduced them to their version of iced lemon tea, beef brisket noodle soup and condensed milk HK style french toast! j.w also took everyone to SOS BBQ for his favourite in town fish and chips, Downtown Crepe Cafe for cappuccino and crepes, Seven Shores for cappuccino and café mocha (my fave place for the latter), and to breadbaron for our family favourite sandwich place (ms piggy! though porksgiving is another fav of mine too when they don’t offer ms piggy). In Mississauga, we tried to visit the recommended Grand Chinese Cuisine, but it was closed to a private wedding reception (though my mother thinks that was a good thing as we found out later that a noodle dish is regularly $18!) so we ended up at Royal Jasmine (very salty but that’s all I know near the 401) and Phoenix (not to be confused with the chain in GTA), a HK style café which had great baked pork chop on fried rice and other good ha-ng-cha dishes overall!
If you’re a friend on Facebook, we’ve posted a
few number of photos of them together.