The theme this week was birds. A local expert birder took us on a listening walk. We saw a few birds as well, though there were more dragon flies than anything else. Not counting geese.
I was amazed to learn that wood ducks nest in tree cavities that really don't look much bigger than the ducks... The City of Ottawa has a fairly aggressive tree cutting policy - in fact the woodcutters were busy chopping down many branches and the odd leaning tree all three weeks that we were there. Apparently the desire to keep Petrie Island "safe" means that the animals that need hollow trees can't live there anymore; the wood ducks have all been given man-made nesting boxes as substitutes.
Elizabeth was a bit put out that there was no craft. Have I mentioned she likes routine? They had a scavenger hunt but it was declared not the same. So I distracted her with the newly opened beach.
Elizabeth likes beaches. She wanted to stay in the water "forever and ever", until I pointed out that she probably had wrinkly fingers. "Winkley fingers" are horrifying, so she hopped right out. But not before extracting a promise to come back to the beach "someday".
Elizabeth was very excited about going to Aidan's birthday party. Cake! Candles! Yay! There was also a neat hose-powered rocket launcher that provided much entertainment for big and small.
Last year Elizabeth swung at the pinata with great vim and was greatly distraught when it broke. This time Elizabeth remembered what would happen, so she refused to swing the stick at all. Mommy insisted that only kids who hit the pinata get the candies inside, but the lure of chocolate almost wasn't enough. She took the stick with great reluctance and gently tapped the pinata. There was no such reluctance when it came to scooping up the goods. Nor when it came to eating birthday cake.
We've been taking Elizabeth to Dovercourt for their preschool dropoff programs recently. Three months of unlimited access for $50 sounded like a pretty sweet deal to us.
We were most interested in their swimming program; a drop-off where Elizabeth could play in the water while Mommy watched. In theory they have other classes for adults but Elizabeth doesn't think she's quite ready for that degree of separation yet. Even when she's way across the room she's still checking periodically to make sure that Mommy is "watching for a really long, long time".
We tried out a number of the other classes: biking, cooking, crafting, storytime and sports. These I was not required to watch; Elizabeth went happily with her "teacher" while I used the public computers to actually get some work done (I know!)
The sports unfortunately featured the kids pretending to be alligators. If you spend any significant amount of time with our daughter, you'll quickly realize that Elizabeth has a love / hate relationship with alligators. She loves to pretend she's an alligator (especially a baby alligator being carried in her Mommy's teeth). Being chased by others pretending to be alligators is also thrilling, but the line between good fun and SUPER SCARY is very thin. Sports class apparently crossed the line and about half way through the class they had to bring hysterical child out to public area for comforting. The staff member had no idea why Elizabeth got upset, but once Elizabeth had calmed down she was able to tell me that it was the "alligators" that were going to "bite her head right off". After that Elizabeth checked before every class to verify that no alligators were involved. Just in case.
The biking and cooking classes were Elizabeth's favourite by far. She made friends with another little girl ("Beth") and between swimming and cooking class they spent quite a bit of time playing together. The number of kids at the drop-ins varied considerably. Frequently she was the only child at the biking, possibly because other parents didn't realize that it was outdoors on nice days? When that happened, Elizabeth insisted on that the Dovercourt staff member join her on the bikes. Elizabeth is pretty fast, so the adult would scoot along on the bike. Elizabeth would zoom way past. Adult would stand up, run with bike between legs and then quick sit down again. It was hilarious to watch, especially because Elizabeth didn't think this was proper technique, so the adult would try to avoid being "caught" cheating... They set up all kinds of obstacle courses and let Elizabeth push giant balls around with the bike, so I'm guessing that's why she liked going even though she rides her similar bike at home practically every day.
Xander invited Elizabeth over to paddle in his wading pool yesterday while Daddy helped Uncle Dave fish electrical wires into the kitchen. There was much splashing and a very tiny amount of actually sitting in the pool.
Elizabeth likes the idea of paddling in the pool but not the getting wet part! She is now campaigning for a swing in our backyard "like Xander".
Auntie Karen invited Elizabeth to help bathe Xander. Elizabeth brought along Nora and they bathed their babies together. Xander wanted to help Elizabeth bathe Nora, but Elizabeth did not appreciate his technique. There were appeals to the other moms in the room to "please make Xander stop eating my baby!!!"
Elizabeth fell asleep in the car on the way home. She was surprised to wake up in bed the next morning still wearing her clothes and braids. She was so tickled with not having to get dressed that I actually let her wear the same clothes for 48 hours, chocolate stains and all.
Despite the lack of turtles, "turtle week" was a such big hit with Elizabeth that she asked whether it was time for "frog week" several times a day.
We invited Maria along. This was not as successful an outing as I hoped, as Maria got about a dozen steps onto the trail and then decided she needed to be carried. I mostly don't even carry Elizabeth anymore (a good 10lbs lighter), so this was a non-starter, particularly since I was suspicious that carrying one girl would lead to demands from the other. Maria looked at me. I looked at her. She crossed her arms, sat down deliberately and started to scream. Of course this set off Elizabeth, who was crying because she wouldn't be able hear the frogs singing and that Maria was going to chase them all AWAY...
Sigh. I tried to get Elizabeth to go ahead with her friend Julia, but Elizabeth was having none of it. So we sat down and I told Maria that when she was ready to come and look at the frogs we would keep going. Eventually she decided that screaming wasn't having the desired effect and cut it out. Then we had a nice time. We heard and saw many frogs. The girls declined the opportunity to touch the real ones captured by the more enthusiastic older members of the group, but they were clearly interested in the frogs. I did need to get them to use grass to encourage the frogs to jump instead of rocks. I'm sure the frogs didn't enjoy the outing as much as the kids did!
The hike was pretty long and very hot, but despite that initial resistance the girls did very well. The tree with the giant leaves apparently was cut down by a beaver (a coppice). Normally that tree has smaller leaves, but getting munched by a beaver causes mega-sized leaves.
After the hike they cut out, glued and labeled the life cycle of a frog. Elizabeth insisted on writing her own labels (and actually did a credible, if not entirely legible, job). Maria insisted on decapitating a number of her frog parts with the scissors. They were both extremely proud of the end results. I think they even had fun.