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Muriel stayed with us for a couple of days, to Elizabeth's and Matthew's great delight.


Dave, Karen and their kids came over to visit some more right before Dave left for the airport to Sweden. There was much playing and curtain shortening (also known as finishing up the "Blue room" for Lorianne). Auntie Muriel brought along her recently rediscovered stitch sampler from boarding school in Sakeji, which we found quite interesting. I'm thinking something similar might be a cool project for Elizabeth!


In the afternoon Margaret came over and we all went to Ottawa's most controversial splash park. The Landsdowne park development was pretty controversial in its own right. There were shenanigans over an international design competition which was (illegally) cancelled in order to give building rights to local business men for a nominal fee. Bitter battles over parkland that was converted to (ugly) condo buildings and a football stadium that was refurbished in order to house the latest iteration of a football team despite a long and storied tradition of football teams spectacularly failing to thrive in that same location. Plans to host all kinds of events while waving away parking concerns, while reducing the already inadequate amount of parking available. It was a bit of a mess, but at least our local community would get a beautiful water plaza out of the deal.


The artist's conception showed a massive pool with fountains. There was talk of getting rid of the nearby wading pool because the new splash pad and playground was going to be sooooo cool. And then, this being Ottawa, we spent $44 million dollars on a giant "granite and brushed stainless steel sculpture" with tiny water plaza complete with confusing signs telling people to keep off the artwork. Local papers have had a field day, of course.


It's kind of interesting. Not $44 million dollars interesting, mind you... But the kids did have fun running through the sprinklers and we regretted not bringing towels or a change of clothes.



   



The kids have been looking forward to Lorianne coming home and finally meeting her goddaughter Amelia.


We must have had a moment of insanity after Amelia was born because after the craziness that was June and all our visitors departed to Angola (my parents) and Japan (Yukiko and the girls) we decided it was obviously time to start a new house project.


To be fair, the ceiling did look like it could fall down at any moment (though this wasn't actually the case) and the wallpaper had seen better days. So we figured we'd take advantage of the room being unoccupied for the first extended period in twelve years and strip the wallpaper, fix the cracks and give it a lick of paint in the hopes of making it more inviting for Lorianne.


It's never that simple, is it? Turned out that not only were there multiple layers of painted wallpaper, but we had to remove the wallpaper because the painted layers had failed and were peeling badly. Brendan really doesn't like wallpaper but the removal process was so painful we actually contemplated looking for new wallpaper instead of finishing. But with Auntie Janice's help we perservered. Brendan cut out all the cracks with the angle grinder. Then we had to wash the extremely filthy walls. Then we had to scratch coat all surfaces because it turned out the original walls had never been finished to paint grade.


It seemed a shame to leave the old rotting and sometimes biting ladybug infested window in place while we were doing everything else. So we looked into replacing the window and next thing we knew pretty much all of the upper storey windows in the house are being scheduled to be replaced. No, we aren't doing them ourselves because Brendan doesn't have a great head for heights and I am not strong enough to help him carry a window up the second ladder that would be needed. Consider this proof that we know our limits!


We even started sanding down the floor before coming to our senses at last - we really didn't have time to finish this off in the time available given that floors can't be walked on immediately after varnishing.


The kids were sad they weren't allowed to help with much of the project but they did enjoy playing in the "tents" at the curtain store. I wouldn't normally have sanctioned such an activity but the game was invented by my friend Jane D from our old church who works there...


We were still hemming curtains just hours before Lorianne arrived but I'm very pleased with the result. Much thanks owed to Auntie Muriel who helped with the curtains and Auntie Janice who helped with stripping, washing, painting, etc...


Funny story: Lorianne came with us to church on her first Sunday home and met our pastors in real life (as opposed to just on Skype at the baptism). Pastor Michelle had seen the room in progress and commented to her "I've been in your room". Lorianne's response cracked everyone up: "Well. That's not creepy at all!"


So... Lorianne: Welcome Home!



   



Auntie Muriel came to meet the babies and we took the opportunity to celebrate Uncle Dave's birthday while we were at it. I think Matthew ate his weight in broccoli salad and corn.


Theo is now bigger than Amelia again - he's grown a ton while we were away at the cottage. Uncle Dave is leaving for Sweden tomorrow to get a week's worth of training at his new job. There were many IKEA jokes.


Uncle Dave spent too long pretending to blow out his birthday cake candles, so Auntie Karen helped him out. The cake was very, very good.



   



Somehow Elizabeth has gotten bigger, older, taller, less toothy and possibly wiser.  She now weighs 44 pounds or about the same as the average 4.5 year old.  She can reach all kinds of things and what she can't reach she finds innovative and terrifying ways to get at.  She can write in cursive, perform various feats of mathematical wizardry and sing just about any song from Frozen.  She is a great big sister and has started to play really nicely with her brother for extended periods of time.  She can bargain like no one's business and will do so to her advantage shamelessly.  Sleep is finally something that she has figured out how to do for an entire night at a stretch and if for some reason she gets interrupted or otherwise shortchanged she is a bit of a grump to put things mildly.  She is very proud of being able to handle the monkey bars like a true monkey and has finally figured out that swimming is not the terrifying impossibility she once thought it was.  We are very proud of her and can't wait to see what she will tackle next.


   



Did you know National Geographic has named Muskoka as a top 20 "Best of The World - Must-see place"? It's definitely one of my absolute favourite!


It's so beautiful and we were very lucky with our weather this year. Warm water, gloriously warm days and while it did rain on a few days the sun always came out in time for playtime on the beach. The rain just meant everything was lovely and green - there wasn't enough to get to my planned rainy day activities, though Margaret says I'm not allowed to complain about that!


We were lucky this year to get to watch a nest of barn swallows learn to fly. Elizabeth and Matthew are already asking how many days until next year.




   

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