I usually garden by neglect, so some of you might be wondering how it is that we're actually growing tomatoes from seed this year.
You see, we get my parents' mail. Elizabeth is OBSESSED with getting mail, but we hardly ever receive any. So getting my parents' mail has saved me from having to generate fake mail for Elizabeth. Their mail is often pretty cool from a toddler perspective as they've apparently signed up for a lifetime supply of stickers, greeting cards, matching envelopes, gift bags, gift boxes and cheap pens from dozens and dozens of well-meaning charities that I'm now never going to give money to since they are apparently wasting it all on stickers and greeting cards (ahem).
Probably I should mention that my parents have no idea how they got on all these lists - I was particularly amused to receive the one from PETA (an organization that I'm pretty sure Dad doesn't support financially!)
Anyway, getting their mail is good. But sometimes it is very, very dangerous. For instance, my dad signed up for gardening catalogues last year...
Elizabeth's been taking a weekly mixed media art class for the last few months, and while we're pausing classes for the summer Elizabeth will definitely be taking another class in the fall.
Every class started with oil pastel drawing while waiting for all members to arrive. This was popular (and meant that we had extra incentive to be on time!) Then they said hello to the fish and went to the paint splatter room to do their "exercises". At first Elizabeth wanted a parent to go to the back with her (as did many of her classmates), but soon they were all trooping to the back with Emaly while the parents hung out at the front of the shop.
After exercises, they worked on one of the many projects Emaly had organized for them throughout the session. One week Elizabeth made a self-portrait out of Sculpey. She made a clay pot. The last week she learned how to throw paint at the wall, which the kids actually found surprisingly tricky. Elizabeth kept wanting to touch her brush to the paper. They worked with many different kinds of clay, they painted in many ways, they made puppets, they silk screened and made a mobile. They used many types of tools - paint brushes, plastic spreaders, fingers, scissors... I was surprised by how well many of the projects turned out. Did I mention Emaly is a bit of a genius with small kids? She really broke down the steps for each project. At the same time she wasn't too fussed about how it ended up - after all, at this age it's the process that matters most!
So yeah - if you are looking for art classes, check out 4Cats...
Uncle Chris (my hero) looked after five cousins while I was at my dance class and Brendan was building his TV antenna.
Uncle Dave and Auntie Karen dropped Xander off while they had a hot date at Home Depot. We got all the cousins to make faces at the camera for next year's calendar, and generally had a good time.
Josie and Daniel even got to Skype with their mom and dad in Simcoe, even though they were still busy playing outside. Technology is pretty amazing!
I was very amused by the dynamics between the kids, especially once Xander arrived. Maria started crawling around pretending to be a baby. Normally that would be Elizabeth's response, but since Maria took that role, Elizabeth grabbed a doll and started "mothering" it. I was just as happy not to deal with the play-crying, since toddlers seem to need to "cry" a lot more than the real babies I know! Josie was looking after Xander, giving him truck and bouncy horse rides. Daniel and Erika (the five year olds) weren't interested in babies (yech!) and so took off somewhere for a wild game of something or other upstairs.
We had Josie and Daniel for the weekend, and they happened to come for schnitzel night (we've been planning out our meals a month in advance recently).
So Elizabeth and Daniel were tasked with making the schnitzel while Josie chopped many vegetables for the next day's lunch. No one even nibbled at the raw pork, though we had some near misses.
The next morning they cleaned bathrooms, scrubbed mirrors, washed dishes and generally tidied.