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May 24, 2011

Great Aunt Mary, Great Grandpa and Great Grandma invited Elizabeth and I to come to Niagara Falls with them after our reunion.


Elizabeth knew she was going to see a waterfall (like a "big shower"), and for some reason decided that she was also going to see water falling on Great Grandpa's nose.  Luckily, it only ever rained when we were in the car, so she was disappointed in this expectation.


This was my first visit to Niagara. I had heard that the American Falls were much more impressive and honestly wasn't expecting much. I had a mental image of gentle little waterfalls cascading everywhere (I think I may have gotten Niagara confused with the tiny waterfalls in my Mom and Dad's wedding photos!) For the record - I was wrong on both counts.  Not that the American Falls aren't impressive, just the Horseshoe Falls are crazy impressive.


We were lucky enough to get fireworks, but unfortunately the building next door blocked our view and the hotel didn't think to warn us. I still enjoyed them. Although I don't really like travelling we had such a great time that I actually cancelled my train ticket and extended the trip another night. 


Mary, Elizabeth and I took the Incline Railway down to the Falls and inspected close up. People deciding to go over the Falls in a barrel are nuts.  Elizabeth thought it would be nice to hold onto the railing "by self" but Mommy was having none of that!  Actually I found watching the water rather frightening.  Difficult to believe that someone survived going over that in just a life jacket!  The water is much more controlled now than in the past due to hydro electric damming etc.  There was a diagram showing how much the falls have eroded over the last few hundred years.  Erosion has now been slowed to a mere foot every ten years! 


We went to see beautiful lilacs, a wonderful greenhouse and the famous floral clock.  Elizabeth got an inordinate amount of attention. Great Aunt Mary's theory was that she was a bit younger than many of the visitors and pretty much the only blond haired blue-eyed little girl that we saw.  I guess we were pretty conspicuous given the combination of two wheelchairs and a toddler.  In any case, one store gave her a lollipop "because she is so cute" and a restaurant waiter insisted on bringing her a complimentary dish of ice cream with sprinkles on top.


Grandma really wanted Elizabeth to sit on her lap, but unfortunately Elizabeth's at the age where all she wants to do is run around.  So she didn't cooperate at all while awake.  She did condescend to sit on Grandpa's lap in order to chase a horse named Princess around the Botanical Gardens. 


I know I took a lot of pictures, but I couldn't bear to trim any more out (I started with well over 300!)


May 23, 2011

We stayed with my Uncle Carl and Aunt Judy.  As soon as we arrived, Judy dragged us off to the neighbourhood park since we had an appropriately aged child and her kids were too big to go to the park by the time it was built.  Apparently she was looking for an excuse to check it out. Elizabeth didn't mind in the least.  The slides were "too hot" after baking in the sun so we had great fun exchanging "moneys" of sand and dandelions.  Then Elizabeth and Judy got very giggly bouncing on the drawbridge. Eventually the spiral slide cooled enough to use. Spiral slides are nerve wracking for moms with small children, especially if said small children want to slide "by self". Probably that's why spiral slides are so appealing!


Elizabeth really took a shine to her Great Uncle Carl, sitting voluntarily on his knee and "helping" barbeque. She liked the little birdhouse in the backyard so much that she wouldn't stop kissing it long enough to talk to Daddy on the phone at bedtime.  Predictably, she asked God to bless the birdhouse as part of her evening prayers.  (We can always tell what made an impression during the day during prayer time!)


Uncle Carl also introduced Elizabeth to the world of professional sports on TV.  Together they watched part of an NBA playoff basketball game, but I'm afraid I've already forgotten which teams were involved.  All I know is that Elizabeth decided to cheer for the "wrong" team, because she particularly liked one of the "big mans".


The morning before we left we watched a pair of house sparrows bringing food to their nest just outside the front door.



May 22, 2011

The descendants of my grandmother's mother get together once a year or so.  There are hundreds of us.  This year, it was a smaller gathering than in the past, with "only" a couple hundred of us attending. We brought my parents (physically in Namibia) to the gathering too, via the magic of Skype.


When I was a little girl, I always felt really out of place at these gatherings in my "modern" clothing and hair down. Also, all the kids my age spoke German instead of English. As we grew up, they learned English but there was a huge cultural gap. My dad worked with computers; theirs worked on the farm. My second cousins had never seen a movie or listened to "popular" music.  I went to a high school with over a thousand people, my second cousin went to a one room school house until grade eight.  It seems there's a bit of a culture shift going on now - lots of modern dress and the kids that I spoke to all seemed to understand me just fine. There was also less homemade cooking - store bought pies and even KFC and pizza!  I liked feeling more comfortable, but sad to see the erosion of an entire culture right before my eyes. Will there still be Old Order Mennonites in my family by the time Elizabeth has kids?


Also unexpectedly there was only one other little girl Elizabeth's age (actually, she was a year younger!). They both interacted with me fine, but neither would look at each other.  Elizabeth cried when the other girl left though, telling me that she wanted to play with the "oder baby".


May 21, 2011

Elizabeth travels fine but Mommy's car journey limit is about five hours, so we stayed overnight in Toronto at Great Aunt Muriel's.  Mommy was feeling extremely car sick and was very happy to get out of the car.


In the morning cousins Ryan and Lauren, Lauren's wife Donna and daughter Lindsey all came for breakfast.  Elizabeth and Lindsey were very suspicious of each other.


Elizabeth wanted to bring Auntie Muriel with us on the next leg of our journey.


May 20, 2011

Auntie Janice, Kevin, Elizabeth and I piled into a rented Subaru Forester for a weekend jaunt to New Hamburg.


Remember when we had to pull over to comfort our child when travelling a mere fifteen minutes to Home Depot?  Or when we had to shake Elizabeth's rattle for hours on end while driving? Or when she started crying ten minutes into a five hour journey?


Okay, so we totally don't have that child anymore. Also? Potty trained + road trips are SO. MUCH. BETTER. than diapers + road trips.


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