Elizabeth insisted on feeding me breakfast. It took three times as long and I ended up with milk dribbled all down my shirt, but we both enjoyed ourselves.
We had a slight mishap with the birthday cakes the day before. I wanted to try an angel food cake "by self". Then the folding of the flour was taking too long and in a moment of insanity I decided power tools were the obvious solution. I turned on the mixer and it folded that flour into the batter in a matter of seconds. Then the egg whites deflated and I remembered why you are supposed to do that part the old-fashioned way. Whoops!
It was getting late, so Auntie Janice offered to make the mini-cupcakes in my new Elizabeth-sized cupcake pan. The cupcakes used about 1/8th of the batter, so Janice got to make chocolate cakes too. I may have neglected to tell her that mini-cupcakes bake faster than cakes, and an 8"x8" round cooks differently than a 10"x13" pan. So we made a new batch in the morning while trading cooking disaster stories with Kevin and ended up with mounds of cake, some crispier than others. I was very surprised later in the day when Janice thought of a way to use up some of that extra cake. I do have to admit: singing happy birthday twice and blowing out candles twice in quick succession IS one way of avoiding running out of cake to put the candles in now that I've hit the advanced age of six!
Once we'd made enough cupcakes and changed into appropriate Canada Day attire, friend Mike generously took our family sailing on his boat Kokopelli for the Canada Fun race. The race committee did not make anyone go swimming this year, but one of the other boats did throw candy and buckets of water at us. Another one sprayed Erika with their hose. She was not impressed. We didn't win, but only because the powers that be didn't adjust our PHRF handicap rating to take into account the high number of kids under the age of 6 on our boat... Maria had a lovely nap on the boat. Elizabeth did no such thing. No one fell overboard. After the race, Mike presented me with a Kokopelli t-shirt! Lovely weather, though we could have used a bit more wind at times.
After sailing we headed home for BBQ with Uncle Dave, Auntie Karen, Karen's friend Andrea, Auntie Janice, Kevin, Grandpa and Grandma J, Uncle Chris, Auntie Yukiko, Erika, Maria, and friend Sarah (all the way from BC!)
I felt very loved. Uncle Chris, Auntie Yukiko, Erika and Maria headed to bed and Grandma and Grandpa were heading downtown for the fireworks. After chilling upstairs in the A/C for a while, the rest of us went to watch the fireworks at Uncle Dave and Auntie Karen's apartment for the last time (Did you hear? They bought a house!!!) The plan was that we'd put Elizabeth to bed and watch the fireworks from the balcony, but Elizabeth was too excited to sleep. She loved the fireworks, despite booming (deemed okay in the context of "pitty lights in the sky") She was finally home and asleep by 11pm!
Needless to say, she went to bed at 5:30pm the next night, but it still took several days to get back on schedule.
You may have heard that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge aka "the world's most famous couple" Will and Kate visited me for my birthday.
I'm not anti-monarchy, but not exactly a royal watcher either. Our household was asked recently: "if you could have dinner with any celebrity, who would you pick?" I was interested to read that most recent grads would pick Will and Kate (and guess who Auntie Janice picked!) Tenant Jesse was more interested in Christopher Plummer and Daddy couldn't think of anyone because he thinks "Steve Jobs is not involved enough at Apple anymore and Bill Gates is a has-been".
I wasn't really sure why I was going. The last time I did anything similar was the time I went to a Star Trek convention, paid $20 to get in and then totally embarrassed my friend Jess by asking "who is William Shatner" during one of those quiet moments you only get if you say something silly.
On the other hand, when the Governor-General sent me an official invitation to welcome their royal highnesses to Canada via twitter, how could I refuse? Besides, it was an educational opportunity for Elizabeth and OC Transpo was offering free bus rides. Elizabeth LOVES riding on the bus.
So we took a free shuttle down to Rideau Hall and met up with Grandma J. There weren't as many people as I expected when we arrived. The staff were giving out free flags to wave and giving conflicting information about where the Duke and Duchess were expected to get out of the car. We opted to stand right near the front to wave at the car, because it was completely empty. So we had a fantastic view of the car. Unfortunately it had tinted windows so basically that's all we saw. Hilariously, some of the people behind us were convinced that the royal couple were still coming, until the crowd kind of surged towards Rideau Hall. A bit of a scary moment actually, leaving me wondering whether bringing Elizabeth was wise. We headed towards Rideau Hall too with Elizabeth on my shoulders and got pretty close. Not close enough to actually see anything, but lots of people right in front of me sure did and one even shook hands. Elizabeth says she saw the "special mans" and picked him out accurately on TV later. She did not see Kate.
Then we got to hear the various speeches. Elizabeth did NOT like the gun salute interspersed with pipe band, telling me "I not like the booming Mommy-dear" and "I want a different song" over and over again. We thought the security guard who climbed out the window onto the balcony had the best view!
I thought Stephen Harper's speech was -awkward- basically along the lines of "so sorry to have stood you up at your wedding, but I had more important things to do". I was impressed with Prince William's French.
Clearly we were not nearly as invested in the whole process as some. A scary number of people had special hats, t-shirts, signs, presents and drove hours and hours to get to Ottawa. They were not as invested in good behaviour though, trampling through the flower beds despite pleas from the Governor General's fantastic staff. Although I didn't really get to see Will or Kate, I enjoyed the craziness of hanging out with 5,000 keeners who thought nothing of climbing trees a la Zacchaeus to get a better view.
On the way out we happened across the cardboard cutout of William and Kate that's been "touring" Ottawa in advance of the royal visit. I figured this was the closest we'd get to a "picture" so got into the then short line. Tons of people had the same idea and started butting in line. After waiting twice as long as we should have, one of the ladies who cut in front of us actually had the chutzpah to cut back in and get her photo a second time. That's when I lost patience. I told the woman next to me who was encouraging her young kid to "just scoot in there" that she should stand in line like everyone else and marched up to the cardboard cutout with Elizabeth. The result is a bit blurry and has random people in it but I like it because it sums up the afternoon quite well ;)
We've had a lot of storms recently. Thunder, lightening and rain that fills our 200 litre rain barrels in only a couple of minutes.
Elizabeth is not a fan. "I not like thunner torms, Mommy-dear" is a frequent refrain. Apparently fear of thunderstorms is a developmental milestone, although I've kind of lost track of the various "normal" ranges for milestones since Elizabeth has nailed what I consider the basics (walking, talking, eating "by self" and toilet training).
She asks what causes the storms using "whys" of at least three syllables. It's not whining exactly but she puts a lot of expression into the word "why". Rational explanations are only good before and after the storm; but we've found her a special bible verse that seems to bring comfort during the really intense booms.
Speaking of which: I'm very impressed by how easily she memorizes things, at this rate I'm going to need flash cards in order to keep up.
Elizabeth is now the very, very, very proud owner of a balance bike. We have never seen her so excited.
Brendan had never heard of them before, but I can't remember when I first learned about them. Did one of my friends have one growing up? I thought maybe I had one but then I remembered having training wheels. Margaret told me that she thought they were new, and apparently balance bikes are very trendy in Canada right now. The clerk at Canadian Tire didn't even know what I was talking about either. But I swear I've known about them for a long time - well before they were (re)"invented" in the 1990s.
We asked Elizabeth what colour she thought she wanted. First she wanted a "boo" one, then an "allow" one and then a "ween" one. Then we found out about the $30 special at Canadian Tire, which only came with one paint scheme. Luckily it features "boo", "allow", "ween" AND some red thrown in for good measure. The helmet was pretty much the same price as the bike, but I guess it will last a few years unless it gets used for its intended purpose! Elizabeth picked it herself, out of the two options small enough for her head and NOT covered in Dora or other random cartoon characters.
We were lucky enough to be invited to Stephen Harper's fabulous garden party again this year. I guess the PMO had other priorities this week because they haven't sent us our official photo of the prime minister hugging me and Brendan yet. Majority Harper apparently is friendlier than minority Harper.
The clown made up a song about meeting Elizabeth as we waited to get into the grounds. He pretended to think I was her sister. I found it more creepy than flattering. Elizabeth wasn't a big fan either.
Although she duly signed the guest book "by self", Elizabeth wouldn't make eye contact once we got up close and personal. "A little shy today?" Harper asked. I wished him good luck with the mail strike and he assured me "don't worry, we'll get it". A few hours later the back-to-work legislation did indeed pass. Was it something I said?
Elizabeth enjoyed a mini train ride with Mommy so much that she didn't want to get off for lunch. After lunch we took her on her first merry-go-round. It didn't go well at first. She had very definite ideas about which horse she wanted to ride, which was problematic because the staff needed us to move to a different horse in order to balance it properly (too many adults holding tinies). Elizabeth was having none of this so we had to get off. She liked that even less. The next time it stopped, the sympathetic staff balanced the whole merry-go-round around Elizabeth and "her" horse. We went round and round and round and round. When the ride came to an end, horse got an unprompted kiss goodbye.
Then we went to the bouncy castle. Elizabeth went in by herself, bounced around by herself and tried to get up to go down the slide. She was too little. "I need help, Mommy-dear", she said plaintively after her fourth or fifth attempt, so I corralled an older kid into giving her a hand. Elizabeth was so determined to go down the slide that she went happily with this perfect stranger. (Eek! My baby is growing up!)
There was free face painting and Elizabeth was keen so instead of more train or carousel rides we waited in line. And waited. And waited. And waited. I'm not sure the end result was worth the forty-five minute wait but Elizabeth was very happy. I was proud of how patiently she waited!