Monday, 22 July 2013

To My Son: A Happy Birthday Letter

Dear Gavin,
You're 5 now, and only getting more amazing every day. I have really truly enjoyed this past year of our time together. Four years old is your best age yet - 80% sweetness, 20% mischief, a perfect combination.
One thing that really sticks out about you is your kindness, you are always considerate of others, you worry about making your brother and sister happy. You share your toys and your time with each of them so readily. You are able to play very nicely with either, or both, of your siblings, playing Lego or Wii with Levi, playing family or animals with Mikayla. Of course your days are not without incident - which often comes from the constant pestering your little shadow brother doles out, and you finally loosing your patience with him. The other thing that gets you in trouble is rough-housing with Levi and getting just a little too rough, you forget your own strength with him (quite often). By far you get the fewest "timeouts" of the bunch, you manage to keep yourself out of trouble most of the time.
You are a child of pure imagination - you love to dress-up and role play scenes you have memorised from shows or you dream up on your own. 90% of the time I ask you to get dressed in the morning, you come back to me in costume, ready to do just about anything, so long as you can stay in costume!
It's not all "fun" for you though, you are a very hard worker. You had speech therapy sessions this year, as a few sounds were not happening on their own ("ch", "sh", "st", "sk", and "j" among a few others). Boy did you ever work at these sessions, even prompting me and dad to practise with you between sessions. Your therapy only lasted a few months, you were able to learn your sounds quickly, mastering at least one sound per week. Recently you have taken quite a liking to numbers and math, we have all sorts of fun with the number game. I say 3 or 4 numbers (like 4-7-2-9) and you give me the name of the number (4 thousand 7 hundred and twenty-nine), I can't ever stump you anymore! You like adding and subtracting too (just the single-digit numbers so far), and you are always counting to one hundred - sometimes by ones, or by twos or by 5s or 10s.
You've had a great year at outdoor soccer (your second season) chasing that ball from end-to-end, and finding your groove on the field. It's been really fun watching you play, there is always a huge smile on your face as you run. The other sport you're showing great improvement in is swimming, moving up to "sunfish" level next, and having a blast in the water as you learn.
I'm looking forward to your next year, to see how you blossom in kindergarten, to see you continue to be nothing short of wonderful.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Ninja Turtle Costume

There are some things in this life that Gavin absolutely LOVES!! Batman is of course way up there, the Wii and Lego get top billing too, and recently Ninja Turtles are creeping into the top ranks. But there's one thing he might love even more than any of these things, and that is to dress-up in costumes! This boy would wear costumes all day long if I let him. Honestly, he has worn costumes to Costco, out bike riding, when camping, swinging in the back yard, eating meals, going to Baba and Gramps' house, and probably more than that too. I thought to myself a couple months back "Gavin could sure use a Ninja Turtles costume", and the hunt began... it was pretty limited though. There are not many costumes in stores in May or June, so I had to look on-line, but the options there were also pretty minimal and not worth the expense. Somehow I got it in my head that I would MAKE him a Ninja Turtles costume. Why do I do these things to myself? First of all, I CAN'T SEW. Not a stitch, I don't hem pants or patch holey-knees. Once I attempted to close a hole in one of Gavin's costumes and the outcome was atrocious! But, I digress. The question was "how do I make a Ninja Turtles costume when I'm completely sewing-illiterate?" The answer - I make it out of paper-mache, paint, and old clothing!
What an undertaking this thing turned out to be. I may or may not have stayed up until 3am to get it finished for Gavin's birthday. Who needs sleep anyway? My Grandpa always said "you can sleep when you're dead".

The Shell I made with paper-mache, using the lid of our turkey roasting pan as the base to give me the right shape. I tried to make it look more turtley and less roasting pan-ish by putting extra paper around the edges for a rounded edge. I started it days and days in advance so it would dry completely between layers of paper-mache.

That was time consuming, but the last night of painting and putting the finishing touches on it was a killer!!! I nearly didn't have it done for him to open on the morning of his birthday. Well, actually I really didn't have it done in time, the staff-holder wasn't attached, it was put into the gift bag with the promise of attaching it later that day when I figured out the right place to put it on the shell.
I actually found a little Donatello set at a store, this included the purple mask, the staff and two throwing stars - perfect, just a shell and green shirt to go! The green shirt turned out to be hard to come by, mostly because I wanted it to be long-sleeved and there is only summer clothing on the shelves currently. My mom was great at keeping her eye out for this one, she found a shirt for me just in the nick of time.
I painted the front of the green shirt with fabric paint to give it the look of the turtle's carapace, and finally used two old belts to strap the shell onto Gavin. The belts gave me a small amount of trouble, I thought at first I could use a hot glue gun to secure the belt onto the shell - nope, that was a major fail. I ripped part of the paint job trying to do it that way. I thought about using small strips of paper mache to keep the belt in place, but I didn't have the time necessary to dry it and repaint it. So I ended up cutting small slits in the sides of the shell and laced the belts through those. The belt the goes diagonally across the chest really holds everything in place, and that was added after the gift was given to Gavin so I could get the length of it right.

Overall, mission completed on this little big project. Gavin is having a blast being Donatello, and he even lets Levi in on the fun (sometimes, when Levi screams loud enough).

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Lego Batman Birthday Cake

Gavin's birthday party theme this year was "Lego Batman". I tried to focus it more towards the "Lego" rather than the "Batman", because Gavin's 4th Birthday (last year) was Batman themed and I didn't want to duplicate last year's party.
The cake for this party had me stumped, I had little to no inspiration up to and including while I was making it. In fact I had baked the cakes and started making icing before I even decided what the final cake design would look like. I was so indecisive about the design that I actually asked Gavin to look at cake pictures on-line with me the day I was to start making it!! Bad idea, Gavin apparently is just as indecisive as me, and all I was left with was 7 different cake design ideas and NO definite plan. Arrrrrrrrrgh!
Unfortunately the cake itself was a little disappointing (taste-wise), the texture was way too dense on one of the batches.So one layer of the cake was really dense and a bit on the dry side. I made chocolate cake with banana buttercream icing this time, I could have eaten the icing by the spoonful it was so good! Nobody complained about the cake however, it was still really yummy, it's mostly me being far too perfectionist about it. Most importantly Gavin loved it.

Recently Gavin has really been getting upset about surprises, he didn't want his birthday presents to be surprises and he didn't want his cake to be a surprise. So he was my little helper for part of the decorating, and did a great job of it, of course!

The final product was still a surprise, and a good one I'm sure, by looking at the big grin on his face.

This time around I didn't try to make the figures for the cake. I just didn't have the time with how long I took to decide what I would do. But nothing looks better than the real thing anyway, right? I just sanitized the pieces and dried them really well so they didn't contaminate the cake with any sticky-kid-finger-germs.

The most time consuming part about this cake was cutting out the little Lego bricks and making each individual nob for the top of the Lego bricks. But, as usual, all the work and effort are worth it to have my kids' birthdays so special for them.

Happy Birthday Gavin!

More to come about the party soon... (I hope)

Friday, 12 July 2013

Gavin is 5! (That Must Mean Questionnaire Time)

This week we had a great time celebrating our sweet Gavin and his 5th birthday. More to come in another post about the party and the cake. Surprise, surprise things are busy and I have a back log of about 6 posts that I want to get out, but I couldn't put this one off. I wanted to make sure to put into writing how my big 5 year old answered his birthday questionnaire.
This time around the answers are slightly skewed because we had just finished putting together his new Lego set (Lex Luther and the "Joker Robot" as he calls it). So all he could focus on was this excitement. Note to self: don't put together birthday presents right before you want your child to sleep, the new-gift adrenaline is far too powerful! Just imagine him bouncing around the room like a little pin-ball as he answers all of these...

1. Favourite Colour? Every colour in the rainbow!
2. Favourite Food/Place to Eat? Seaweed, from the sushi place. You know, in the soup.
3. Favourite thing to do? Play with my Lex Luther and Joker Robot
4. Best Friend? Tessa, I love to play with Tessa
5. Grade/Teacher? Jr. Kindergarten complete, Mrs. Johnson
6. What do you want to be when you grow up? A policeman, or Lego Lex Luther
7. Favourite Book? My new Spiderman storybook collection
8. Favourite Movie? Lego Batman 2
9. Favourite animal? All of them (he even stuck with this answer when I tried to get him to be more specific)
10. Where is your favourite place to go? Boston Pizza or Chianti's (I asked if there was somewhere that's not a restaurant? he said Home)
11. What do you like to do with your brother and sister? Play Lego
12. If you could have a super-power what would it be? Have a spidey-sense like spiderman
13. What do Mom and Dad do that makes you happy? Build my Lego sets for me
14. What is one thing you've done that you are most proud of? Not breaking my Lego when it's all put together
15. What do you like best about school? I liked learning about space
16. What would you like to learn to do better this year? Be a policeman and learn to stop traffic.(Big ambitions for my 5 year old!!)
17. What is the scariest thing you've had to do? Fight the scarecrow on Lego Batman 2 Wii, because he has lines on his mouth that are scary.

When he gets something in his mind, he sure is persistent! Boy did he ever love getting new Batman and Superman Lego for his birthday. So much, in fact, that he made me call my Mom and Dad so he could tell them how great it was and invite them over to see it the next day.

Happy Birthday Gavin!