Thursday, December 05, 2013

Celebrating a half birthday at Chuck E Cheese

Our little boy is 18 months old today! It's hard to believe that he'll be closer to two years old than one year old from now on.

Mom, why am I on this Jeep?
Lachlan's latest trick is putting two words together. He began with 'mo chee' (more cheese) and 'mo gaba' (more garbage cans). Today it was 'bye horsey' and 'bye truck' when we left Chuck E Cheese. I think he's also beginning to learn commands. He's listened to me tell him what to do for 18 months and now he's practicing giving out orders, too. I thought I heard him say 'Mom here' yesterday.

We went to Chuck E Cheese this morning not necessarily to celebrate this half birthday, but because a couple of mom's group folks were going. Fortunately at 10am on a Thursday, the Chuck E Cheese in Cupertino was mostly deserted. Lachlan took a mild interest in the toddler zone, but quickly wandered out. We spent our tokens on a photo booth that prints your picture onto a make believe ID card, a Whack A Mole type game and a couple of moving rides that Lachlan wasn't sure he wanted to be on.

It was amusing when Lachie's little buddy Albert tried to put the award ticket back in the machine. The tickets that are so precious to bigger kids mean nothing to 18 month olds. We donated ours to a kid who looked about four who delightedly accepted them.

I hadn't visited a Chuck E Cheese since I was a kid and the one in Cupertino is only slightly different than the one in my memory. I remember Chuck E Cheese being a very dark place, lit primarily by the flashing lights of the games, but Cupertino's has a lot of natural sunlight. I remember exchanging quarters for tokens and that each game cost about one. It's funny how that's still the same today. I guess arcade prices have remained flat. Unlike the CEC of memory, this one didn't have a ball pit or a huge cast of animatronic characters who sing every 15 minutes. And perhaps for the sake of Lachlan's immunity and sense of security, that's a good thing.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Book Advent

One of the best parts about having a toddler around at the holidays is starting new family holiday traditions. We decided that in lieu of a traditional advent calendar involving little windows or small gifts or chocolates, we would give Lachlan a Christmas/winter book for each day of December leading up to Christmas Day. We enjoy reading as a family and picture books provide a gentle introduction to the idea of Christmas.
Day 4 of the Christmas book advent - Dinosaur Vs Santa

My mom took charge of the idea and added up the number of old holiday books we already had from Lachlan's last Christmas and years ago. Then she bought some new books and then I bought some new books from Scholastic... and then her friends bought some books. Anyway, we now have more than 25 Christmas books and we're making a game of giving them to Lachlan each morning.

Auntie Paulette generously decorated each gift bag with a numbered stocking and vehicle stickers (non-Christmas-y, I know, but Lachlan's into trucks). We encourage him to find the bag by following a purple ribbon that we string from the top of the stairs to the bag's location.

It's day four of our book advent and I'd love to say that Lachlan is thrilled with the new tradition, but, as with most things, it's taking him a while to get accustomed to the idea. He doesn't yet totally get the concept of following the ribbon, but we prod him along. He enjoys the Christmas books, especially one about a baby called Fa La La, but he doesn't request them on repeat the way he does with other favorites. Still, he doesn't often take to books immediately; instead, he warms to them over time and goes through phases where he's especially interested in one book.

His favorite parts of Fa La La are when the baby smashes a gingerbread house that his Dad has very painstakingly constructed and when the baby finds a choo choo under his Christmas tree on Christmas morning. Perhaps Lachlan is hinting that he would also like a choo choo under his tree.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

First Ever Field Trip

Lachlan and I went with his preschool this morning to Hidden Villa Farm in Los Altos. We'd been there twice before as a family, but never on a tour without our stroller!
All bundled up at the farm

Teacher Diane advised us to dress warmly because mornings are chilly on the farm. Rain was in the forecast, too, but we stayed dry. I was worried that Lachlan wouldn't tolerate his hat, but he didn't mind when he noticed that all of his classmates were also wearing warm hats. He was particularly interested in Matthew's hand-knitted Thomas the Tank Engine hat.

Our teacher also mentioned that we should leave everything in the car and foolishly I left my stroller in the trunk. Lachlan is difficult to corral these days and doesn't really follow me when we're walking somewhere. I and the other parents got a workout carrying our 18 month olds around the farm.

He was nervous around Cleo the cow and didn't want me to get too close. By the time we saw the goats, though, he had warmed up and enthusiastically petted two kids called Pancake and Waffles. He kept saying, "nice, nice!" because I had assured him that the goats were nice. Lachlan's confidence with the animals led him to chase chickens into their coop all the while saying, "nice, nice." I tried to explain that the chickens were nice, too, but they would run away before he could catch them.