Forget a new portrait gallery, obviously what Ottawa really needs is a year-round butterfly house. Elizabeth was really keen to go back to see the butterflies and friend Aidan was going so we tagged along. As soon as we got there, Elizabeth was clinging to me like a petrified monkey and complaining that the greenhouse was "too smelly". I managed to distract her somewhat by showing her how to tell the difference between a butterfly and a moth. She also liked watching the butterflies dancing together, but still no desire to actually hold a butterfly herself. We ended up going three days in a row (the last one with Heidi and Brian). It was kind of neat to visit on multiple consecutive days as different varieties were more dominant on different days.
My alma mater has hosted a free butterfly show in the fall for the last twelve years, and this is Elizabeth's third time. The first time she wasn't even able to sit on the ledge with Erika to be photographed!
We learned from our crowded experience last year and didn't attempt to visit on a weekend. There was no line up, but the butterfly greenhouse was still pretty busy. Elizabeth was extremely freaked out by the butterflies, wanting to leave immediately and be carried by Mom. I remember that from last year as well - except last year both Elizabeth and Maria were crying and wanting to be carried. I couldn't hold the camera and carry both, and Maria couldn't walk yet so a kind stranger helped me out by carrying one of them. This year Yukiko came and Maria wasn't phased by the butterflies at all! Elizabeth had lots of opportunities to hold a butterfly too but that was clearly not happening. When I was a little girl I liked to catch butterflies, which I'd then put in a jar. I'd hold the jar on my shoulder for a while and then presto! I'd get a butterfly on my shoulder! So I'm bemused by this worry that the butterfly is going to "lick my head". Of course, as soon as we left she wanted to go back.
We've reached a new milestone. I answered the phone and the voice at the other end (cousin Erika) asked to speak to Elizabeth. "It's for you", I said, handing my two year old the phone.
Elizabeth calmly took the call and chatted back and forth with Erika and Maria for a few minutes before hanging up. Elizabeth still has a tendency to point to things as she doesn't quite believe that the phone doesn't do video, but otherwise she's suddenly able to have pretty interesting phone conversations. All by herself, though sometimes the other end requests translation services afterwards. The other day she rather matter of factly told me that she's going to make her own phone calls "when she's three". The list of things she's planning to do when she's three is starting to get a bit frightening, but that's probably another blog post.
Grandma and Grandpa H will be pleased to know that she's planning on calling Angola first.
We've been unusually busy this fall with visitors coming and going. When dinner for twelve is considered "scaling back", you know that our sense of a big family dinner is a little warped. In fact, we realized that we haven't had fewer than twelve for dinner at least one night a weekend for the last month, and there are still a couple of weeks of twelve plus dinner plans to go. I suspect we'll take a little break from large gatherings after Thanksgiving, but it's so much fun to get together!
Erika made her "Uncle Power tools" a special necklace, which he dutifully wore.
Tenant Jesse, Great-Aunt Mary, Grandma H, Auntie Janice, Janice's boy Kevin, Uncle Chris, Auntie Yukiko, cousins Erika and Maria all joined Elizabeth and I to help Brendan properly demolish his birthday lasagna. The flourless chocolate cake was also properly appreciated, though Jesse was careful to request a piece that "wasn't covered in wax and baby spit". That's because Elizabeth insisted on "helping" blow out Daddy's candles...
Friend John (of Gingerbread men in peril fame) and Karin's baby Simon just turned one. It's clearly impossible this baby is already that old let alone expecting a sibling in January.
I asked Brendan how to describe the party. "There were many, many, many small children", he replied. "It was frightening." My favourite moment was when one of Simon's parents gave Simon his birthday cupcake and let him loose on the floor. "Seriously?" said the other parent. "But he'll make a big mess!" "That's the point..." Some icing did end up on the floor, to the cat's great delight.
Elizabeth had a wonderful time and didn't want to go home. "I want to go back and play with my cousins again!" she wailed. Apparently all small children are "cousins". We're working on the concept of "friend" versus "family member".