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Breakfast candles are apparently now our tradition, so I made pancakes once again. This time I didn't melt the bottom of the candles in the hot pancakes, and I didn't "forget" to add the chocolate chips (I may have had some reminding!).


Elizabeth's friends showed up bright and early (10am) ready to play. Auntie Janice gave us some fake snow to play with while we waited for everyone to arrive. Some of the kids totally loved this and some (including Elizabeth) did not like getting their hands gooey - oh well. It was SUPER messy! I was glad I'd thought to put out a plastic tablecloth as we were able to bundle it up and drop it all in the closest tub.


The kids that didn't want to play with the snow got to build castles with blocks. This was totally improvised on the spot when I realized that the sensory part wasn't going to work for all. Luckily they enjoyed that. Then glitter glue and paint to decorate loot bags. I might not have quite thought through the mess factor but actually the kids were remarkably tidy all things considered.


We played a relay race to "build Olaf the snowman". Pro tip: do not let your two-year old watch games involving toilet paper. Elizabeth and her friend Sarah were picked to be snowmen. It was highly amusing for all involved, though the "relay race" part kind of morphed into random kids adding random pieces to whichever snowman they were closest to. I apparently like maximum chaos, so not only did we snowsuit all the kids to play hunt the coloured ice cubes in the snow, but afterwards I supervised make-your-own pizzas. It was fun, but I did wonder what on earth I was thinking when we got to the pizza part. In the middle of the busiest part, one of our biggest clients server went down. So Brendan disappeared leaving me with 11 very excited 4-6 year olds and Matthew. I was very glad a couple of parents had opted to stay! I finished getting the pizzas in the oven while Elizabeth opened her gifts. I have no idea who got her what but she loved all of it.


After the party it was time for skating class to work off a little of the sugar. After skating we headed to Swiss Chalet (where else?) for supper. Then more presents, more cake and Boggle with the rest of the house before bed.



   



We offered Elizabeth the same deal as last year - she could have a special party with her friends if she combined her family birthday party with Matthew's.


I was a little dismayed that Elizabeth demanded not one but TWO "Frozen" themed parties, but in retrospect having the same theme made things much easier. For one, we were able to keep the same decorations up for both! Luckily Matthew didn't mind...


There was a slight glitch when the complicated schedule gymnastics that are always necessary to try and get everyone in the same place at the same time happened to place the party smack in the middle of Elizabeth, Matthew and Xander's music recital. Luckily we already knew everyone was free so we just moved the start of the party to the recital hall and asked folks to show up half an hour earlier if possible. Of course we also had skating ending at the same time as the recital began so it was a little frantic getting ready for the party followed by skating class and we were quite happy not to be late! Elizabeth was super excited to see all the people who came to watch her recital.


It was Xander and Matthew's first recital - they both did really well. Since Matthew could go up with his sister for some of it and with Xander for his "piece" I didn't actually have to hang out on stage at all. He did look a bit like a deer in the headlights but eventually started "bang banging" on his drum right at the end :) Elizabeth played her piece with her customary confidence though as usual she was concentrating so hard she looked rather severe until she was done.


After the recital we played in the snow for a bit and took some family photos. You might notice that tenant Jesse is back for a few months - he's actually been here since the beginning of year - to Elizabeth's great delight (she wanted Ray back too but we explained he's in still working in Toronto). The new face is Lorianne, who's staying with us this month. Elizabeth is amazed by her piano skills "She's better than Mrs Shana [ed note - the piano teacher] and I think she knows ALL HER SHARPS". This has been good incentive for piano practices!


After photos it was party time! There were appropriately themed cakes, lasagna, Caesar salad and garlic bread. In other words... the usual. Dessert was first, by special request. Then we blinked and much wrapping paper was strewn all over amid much excitement.



   



Elizabeth recovered her appetite enough to nibble some pancakes for Shrove Tuesday. So far no one else has come down with stomach flu.


In other news, kids have created a little fort between the couch and the radiator. It involves removing all the cushions from the other couch which is slightly problematic since we currently have no other comfortable seating accessible in the house aside from the third floor. Occasionally my feeling-more-pregnant-than-I-actually-am self needs to sit and put my feet up, and three flights of stairs does not help with attempting to rest!


Matthew likes to take his toys, books and snacks into the fort and will sit there quietly humming to himself for a long time, despite the great heat from the radiator.



   



Grandma invited us to come swimming before lunch today so we met up with Auntie Yukiko and cousins Erika and Maria. There was much playing with tinker toys and of course splashing in the pool.


Everyone likes the water now and Maria has made a ton of progress since the last time we went swimming (and she refused to let go of the ladder!). Now she dunks her head and swims around happily with a noodle. Elizabeth showed off her swimming skills swimming most of the short length of the pool in the shallow end several times before taking off to play shark with Erika - who is a great little swimmer now. Matthew is desperate to imitate, which can be a little scary but we are pleased that all are enjoying swimming so much.


After swimming, my kids ate many, many cookies. Cookies and hot chocolate are a post-swimming tradition at Grandma and Grandpa's house, so although we suspected this meant a light lunch we decided that this is partly what holidays are for ;)


Then it was time to go. Elizabeth got very, very quiet. "My tummy hurts", she said. "I drank too much pool water." And she cried because she didn't want to stop playing with her cousins and it isn't "fair" that Grandma plays with Matthew and she never gets a play date all to herself anymore. We were puzzled about whether she was feeling well, but usually an unwell Elizabeth doesn't eat (even cookies!) and she insisted no bucket was necessary. So we went home. And we practiced piano. And suddenly at the end of the practice she turned green and we barely made it to the newly finished bathroom where she tossed those cookies good.


I was sad because we had been very much looking forward to going to the NAC for their Family Day program with Janice and new (short-term) tenant Lorianne. But then after a short nap Elizabeth declared herself better, ate an enormous amount of lunch and wanted to go out to the NAC. So, we chalked the episode up to too much swallowed pool water or something and headed out.


Cue ominous music...


Actually, the first forty minutes were fine. The kids got their faces painted. Matthew wasn't too keen on sitting still but was very excited to have his first facial artwork ("fly! fly!"). They made puppets and kept a respectful distance from other puppets and giant stilt walkers. There was some tracing as part of a scavenger hunt. Elizabeth won giant rock paper scissors against the champion. Then we were just learning about perspective when suddenly "I don't want to do this anymore", she said with a level of desperation that did not bode well.


Elizabeth and I spent the rest of the afternoon in the public bathroom. Matthew, Janice and Lorianne finished the scavenger hunt and played fun games like giant bowling that Matthew told me about for days afterwards. Then Daddy came and rescued us. Elizabeth insisted on a bucket for the trip from the bathroom to car (it was necessary). We resolved never, ever, ever to ignore our house rule to quarantine for 24 hours after any puking.


It turned out she had strep. Sigh.



   



Elizabeth has been talking about the ice slides since Winterlude finished last year and we were rapidly running out of time to go to Jacques Cartier park. Unfortunately, her field trip on Friday was cancelled because of the weather (-27C, not including windchill or something).


Saturday was cold too so we chickened out of going before skating. Erika hadn't been to any of the Winterlude activities yet so after church the girls and I headed to the ice sculptures to evaluate whether we were brave enough to try the slides.


We looked at the sculptures and the girls played with the snow shovels for a bit and then we decided to catch the bus across the river to Quebec. Even though there was an "extreme cold warning" and it was -26C with a wind gusting up to 20km/hour. When we arrived, we immediately found the slides. Turned out it was so cold there were hardly any lines. We slide until Erika's ears felt a bit cold, then we went indoors for lunch. Then more slides and a pause for beavertails / hot chocolate. Then a few more slides and on to the bus back to Ottawa. Overall they managed ten different slides (6 individual slides, 3 group slides and the tubing!). The walk home from Dow's lake was admittedly chilly but I think the girls got less cold than Elizabeth did last year when it was 15C warmer, mainly because we were careful to warm up very often and we didn't have to wait more than a few minutes for any of the slides so they could run around more.


We had a blast.



   

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