Week 131: Cantonese EarlyON Centre, new double stroller, thank you song, 2.5 years old, 3 months old, Ripley’s Aquarium, Niagara Falls

EarlyON Centre circle time

EarlyON Centre circle time

Week 131 motherhood of a 2.5 year old toddler and 3 month old baby:

  • March 16, 2023:  We took both kiddos early in the morning to an EarlyON centre that began at 8:30am!  I was deliberate to choose this one because it offered Cantonese songs and storytelling and I was very eager to expose the children to more of their native tongue and curious to see what this one would be like.  I woke up at 7, nursed the little one, gobbled up a breakfast, and we loaded the kids up for the 15-minute car ride to the site.  So glad DH packed the bags and prepped some items over the night so we had less to do to get there on time.
  • I was overly anxious for no reason as it turned out to be a very casual and flexible class.  We chatted with the facilitator first and played with the toys (SO impressed with the variety and quality of the toys and supplies at this site).  It wasn’t until 10am that the actual song singing and storytelling began.  There were so many children and their parents/caregivers here — more than 20 participants.
  • The toddler played with the toy kitchen (so many wooden and realistic food toys), rings, dollhouse with lots of furniture (I loved that she imagined a table to be a merry-go-around without my prompting), and made art using paint and a cutup toilet paper roll.
  • The baby was starting to get hungry by 9:45, so I headed to the school’s staff room to nurse her.  So glad I was able to do it; she latched 🙂  My first time nursing her successfully in public!  I’m not even shy about exposing myself because it’s a natural thing to feed my child with my body, but I do need to practise and get used to it (and the baby too).  Glad there was a table so I could put all my things (haakaa and bottle for the breastmilk) there (helpful too when I nursed there again before we left).
  • The facilitators actually performed the songs and dances in Cantonese and Mandarin.  There were more Mandarin speakers than Cantonese (as is the trend these days).  The toddler was shy to perform or sing, but it’s excellent exposure for her.  I learned what the “heads, shoulders, knees and toes” song sounds like in Cantonese as well as the “one, two, three” song.  The facilitator also sang a familiar bath song too — my first time hearing the second part of the song.  My mom always sings that bath song.
  • We bought a double stroller for the kids!  We initially bought it from Walmart but with no display model to try out and being wary of online reviews stating its difficulty in maneuvering, I was lucky to find someone who was selling it on kijiji.  We tested it out and purchased it for than less half of the retail price.  Score!! 🙌  Now we can return the initial purchase and save the $220 for a future wagon or other stroller. 😄
  • I always ask the toddler what she thinks something is instead of imposing my thoughts on her.  I try anyway.  She might not see a peg doll as a person.  Instead, it could be something else in her mind.  I don’t want to limit her.
  • I have more confidence to bring the kids out now that I am able to nurse in public.  No longer bound to the house! 😄🙌
  • The new double stroller is a heavy load and more difficult to push and maneuver.  However, it’s a good purchase so that both the toddler and baby can sit when we go out.  The toddler’s little legs can only carry her so far before she gets overly tired.  At least it will be available for her to take a seat if she wants to when we go out. 😌
  • We had our first dine-out experience as a family of four!  (Grandma had plans already.)  It was easy since the baby slept through the entire meal.  She sleeps so well in the car seat!
  • The toddler has been asking me to sing the songs on repeat when we are at home.  She asked me to sing the Old MacDonald song last week but today it has been the “dut dut” song which is the “If you’re happy and you know it” song.  She has been trying to coordinate herself clapping her hands and stomping her feet during the appropriate parts, but she usually ends up clapping throughout the whole song lol.
  • She also asked for the “thank you” song which she has asked of grandma since they overheard it from the daycare last summer.  I found it on YouTube and played it for her.  I found her watching the music video intently and copying and doing the hand movements that the kids in the video make.  It’s so cute.
  • Video:  https://youtu.be/5xZD1i_g5Dw
  • I don’t know why, but when hearing these children’s songs and singing them, it gives me goosebumps (the first time at the earlyon where they did the good morning train song).  It literally makes me emotional and want to cry for some reason…  Something about the tonality and cheerfulness that the song brings.  I don’t know what it is…
  • It reminded myself how much I enjoy singing along to songs.  I know all these childhood songs by heart and it’s so easy and fun to belt them out 😄😌.  They’re all joyful happy songs too.  You can’t help but be in a great mood afterwards too.
  • When we turn on the camera for her to join the virtual programming at home, she looks so innocent and naive on the screen.  She looks so toddler-ish and cute.  Meanwhile at home, she can be a terror sometimes 😅.
  • It’s especially cute when she sees other kids on the screen holding a stuffed animal and she goes and grabs her Minnie mouse too and holds it and bounces it and shows it on screen too.  She showed and shared her Minnie Mouse with the others too and very quietly answered the facilitator’s questions that she played with her by feeding her.  It was so cute.
  • March 17:  We brought her to another EarlyON site, this time in Richmond Hill and it was grandma’s first time attending too.  I wanted her to see what the play centre was like so that when DH resumes work, she will be able to come with me and the kids too.  Unfortunately, I didn’t think this EarlyOn centre was very good.  The facilitators/instructors weren’t as friendly as the ones at the other places.  They didn’t try to learn the kids’ names.  Despite it being called “Messy Play”, the session didn’t actually have many activities that involved that kind of play.  They only had painting, water, and clay stations, which it seems they have usually anyway.  The setup of the classroom/play space wasn’t ideal either.  Everything was lined up against the walls and there was no partition within the room itself.  There were so many kids there and quite crowded.  Some parents and kids who arrived late were denied entry too.
  • In the last 20 minutes, it was cleanup time and then everyone gathered in a circle.  There was a basket of books in the middle and we were told to take a book and read with our child.  It was felt like forced reading time with the child.  DH saw it as a way to waste time…  After a few minutes, we put the books back into the basket and then we did an around-the-circle introduction and game.  Bb of course didn’t say her own name when it came to her turn, but she chose that moment to be vocal and comment on an adult near us who wore jeans with “fashion holes” in them.  Bb asked “Why does her pants have holes in it?” so loudly lol.  It was so funny.  I can’t imagine if that woman felt embarrassed or not.
  • They did a callout for kids to stand up or wave or clap their hands if they wore a certain color.
  • The game where the facilitators placed different coloured strips on the floor and then told everyone to walk around in a circle and then pounce on the colour when called was not well thought out.  The little kids are not tall and can’t see as far as the adults can to see where all the coloured strips are.  It was more a case for the parents/caregivers to “tell” their kids where to go once the colour was called.  More importantly, there was not enough space for the kids to all run up to and stand on the colour.  It seems like an advanced game for these very small people.
  • I appreciated that the staff let me stay 15 minutes after the session was over to nurse the little one before we left for lunch.  It had been 2 hours of play and the little one was just starting to move around and get hungry.  So happy I can nurse in public now!! 😄
  • The baby doesn’t nurse that long.. less than 8 minutes.  I offer the other breast to her.  She sometimes takes it but not always.  Amazingly, she is satisfied until the next feed at home!  Yay! 🙌
  • The toddler got a little frustrated during the colour game.  She wanted to play more with the dinosaur toys but everyone was asked to walk around in a circle.  We were able to avert a serious tantrum luckily.
  • When the toddler was at the drawing easel a second time to use the dot markers, there were more markers returned to the easel.  She was moving through the different colours when another toddler came over and took the blue colour from her and started using it on the board.  There was a parent nearby but she didn’t even chastise or tell her child to take their turn..  My toddler just accepted that her marker was taken and moved on to use another one. 🤷‍♀️
  • The books at this EarlyON location all have “EarlyON” stickers on them.  My first feeling was that kids must be accidentally bringing the books home with them, so that’s why they had to slap the stickers on the covers.  Some of the books were ripped and torn too.  At the play kitchen area, I noticed the steamer toy was taped down.  It seems like the books and toys aren’t taken care of very well here…  Maybe they have so many kids attending that that’s why things fall apart more easily..  In comparison, the Armadale location with the Cantonese songs was much more clean and had toys that were well-cared for.
  • March 18:  The next day, after DH went to line up for the Ripley’s Aquarium tickets at the Toronto Public Library, me and mom brought the toddler to the first EarlyON we had been to for some playtime.  It was again the second floor play area.  On this visit, she used white glue for the first time, played with magnetic ball and sticks, put together a hedgehog, sorted shapes, and learned to thread beads!!  The bead-threading activity is something I once thought of purchasing for her at home, but I’m so glad I didn’t.  She played with this after some modelling from us and successfully threaded the beads through the string!
  • We also played with some suction cup toys.  She saw the tunnel toy and crawled through it.
  • She stayed the longest amount of time at the sand table.  It looked like kinetic sand to me.  Grandma played with her and showed her how to scoop the sand.  I also stood next to her for a while but the space is small there and I moved away to let the other kids have a turn at the table.  The toddler was doing just fine at the table playing by herself when an adult came over and talked to her.. she got scared and realized I wasn’t right next to her and cried.  I went back to her to console her 😅.  We played at the other stations after since it was getting so crowded at the sand table.
  • At the end, we had songs.  I didn’t like how this facilitator seemed to favourite the two kids who participated a lot and kind of ignored everyone else.  I’m sure it wasn’t intentional, but it was something I noticed.
  • The toddler comes home from these EarlyON sessions with the songs in her head and she asks me to sing them for her again and again.
  • So lucky to get a cake bag from TGTG to celebrate the infant’s three month old birthday!!  I guess I can’t even call her an infant anymore.  She’s bursting out of that category!  So much cheaper to get a cake this way.
  • She takes the funniest photos.  She has funny expressions during the milestone photos.  She’s definitely more chill than her older sister.
  • March 22:  Did my postpartum glucose test (75  OGTT)… Results the next day online.  It seems I might be prediabetic :(.  Kinda guessed I would be.  Trying my best to reach 10,000 steps a day five times a week (I did it last week) and lose my muffin top and extra weight.  Slow progress because I’m breastfeeding and don’t want to mess up my supply.
  • DH did manage to get the free Ripley’s Aquarium tickets (yayyyy!!) and we went there for the first time as a family.  It shocked and didn’t occur to me that the dark aquarium would scare the toddler.. she almost didn’t want to enter which would have foiled the entire visit.  She also saw the play area immediately upon entering and wanted to play there, but we had to go through the exhibits first.  She wasn’t too interested in the fish in the tanks..
  • So glad they had a private nursing room inside of Ripley’s for us to use!  It was nicely equipped with a rocking chair, night stand, and lamp too!  So thoughtful.  There were framed fish themed alphabet on the wall too.  Bb nursed exactly 7 minutes on each side and DH burped her in between.
  • The moving walkway was longer than I remembered.  This was a nice part for the toddler to see the fish swimming around us, but I think she was more fascinated with the mechanics of the moving walkway than the aquatic creatures lol.  We saw the sea turtle, sharks, stingrays, and plenty of fish.
  • I crawled through the tunnel with her and let her play in the kids’ play area with DH.  He said it was so crowded.
  • I thought she would be interested in the jellyfish, but she didn’t really understand that they were real living creatures.  We finished the rest of the visit fairly quickly.
  • We had lunch (had my first alcoholic drink, a sangria, since probably December 2019) at the Rec Room.  It was such a nice lunch.  Great food and very comfortable and spacious dining room.
  • I nursed the baby inside one of the party rooms :D.  Love “collecting” different areas for nursing.  I can nurse almost anywhere now! 😀
  • Depending on where it is, I either stick a nursing pad in my bra to soak up the letdown from the other breast or I’ll use the haakaa.  (Unfortunately I used the ladybug milk collector once and it left a huge suction mark on my nipples.. painful and scary.  I don’t think I’ll ever use the ladybug collector again.)  If there’s a table in front of me and I’m well shielded, I’ll use the haakaa.  If not, it’s easier to use the nursing pad and have one breast out to nurse.
  • The toddler was so exhausted that she fell asleep in the stroller upon our walk back to the parking garage.  She cried and threw a fit when DH tried to transfer her to the car seat.  Luckily she continued to sleep while we drove back home.  (The baby slept also lol.)
  • The next day, we went to another EarlyON program (we were taking full advantage of DH’s last week of paternity leave!).  This one was “Creative Chefs” where the toddler got to make a fruit skewer!!  What a simple and healthy food activity.  There was an assortment of fruits on the table: raspberries, blueberries, tangerines, green and purple grapes.  The really nice trilingual (Canto and Mandarin) facilitator showed the kids how to skewer the fruit onto the stick.  Bb had help from DH since the skewer stick is so sharp.  She enjoyed taking the fruit out afterwards to eat.  She took off the grape skin by herself too.  It’s too bad she has developed a habit now of not eating fruit skin (thanks to her dad 😒😒)
  • The toddler also played at the sand table that day for a long time.  Grandma helped her play.  I like how focused she is and she can concentrate on one activity centre for quite a while.  I observed a three-year-old girl at the other EarlyON site who couldn’t stay still and bounced from station to station.
  • She also played with the “open hole” magnetic tiles.  She realized it was similar to the ones she has at home and quickly made a cube.  Good job.
  • We played with the magnifying glasses too and DH read some books to her.  Grandma went through a bilingual Chinese and English book with her.
  • When it was time for circle time for songs, we started off with 5 minutes of reading with the parent again.  Maybe this is a key component of the Richmond Hill centres.  Maybe they use the time to settle down the kids (DH’s guess).  I realized also this could be the only time that some parents actually sit down with their child to read.  Our child voluntarily chooses to read herself, but not every child does.  In fact, we hardly notice other kids choosing to read and usually are playing with toys at the centres.
  • I also nursed the baby before we left the EarlyON Centre.  The nice facilitator was nice about it.  I really like her.  The toddler was comfortable around her too and talked so much that day.  DH noticed that she was the most talkative child there that day.
  • When we had AYCE sushi lunch that day, the toddler enjoyed holding an avocado handroll to eat again just like last time.
  • When we go to restaurants lately, she asks us to ask the server for a booster or high chair.  She prefers to sit in those — I guess for added height.
  • When taking group photos together, I notice the baby likes to look at and watch her older sister’s face intently.  I guess she admires her?
  • The baby likes to suck her fingers so often now.  She can put four fingers into her mouth at a time lol.  It’s adorable.
  • Last but not least for this week’s long post is that we brought everyone to Niagara Falls for the first road trip and overnight stay since the pandemic began!!  How exciting to stay in a hotel again and venture out of the city.
  • The toddler wasn’t very impressed or excited about the rushing waterfalls.  It was cold that day but a bit sunny.  She tired out so quickly too.  By 8pm, she wilted into her dad’s arms and passed out at the restaurant without eating much.
  • I nursed at the Mexican restaurant where we had lunch, at the concourse level of Fallsview casino, and again at the dinner table at the Vietnamese restaurant.  Good job, me.
  • The baby slept basically the whole day.  She had a big poop while at the Vietnamese restaurant and grandma cleaned her up nicely at the sink.
  • We bathed the toddler by having her stand in the bathtub and used a towel to wipe her down.  She played with the gushing water out of the tap and used a plastic cup to hold the water.
  • The toddler slept surprisingly well that night.  She and grandma shared a bed.  It could have been way worse.  For the baby, things were same same.  We brought her bassinet from home.  I fed her in the armchair with two cushions that we brought from home.  I actually slept earlier that night because I was so tired.
  • We brought some magnetic tiles and board books for the toddler too.
  • DH told me later that the toddler asked when we could go home.  It seemed that she was homesick 🥺.  Pandemic toddler is so used to being at home.

About stenoodie

I'm a stenographer, foodie, avid traveller, and new mom who loves to share her experiences with the world.
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