Cousin Ryan visited all the continents this year, so naturally we made him promise not to neglect our little part of the world!
He came this weekend and I had planned my favourite meal with greek salad, homemade pita bread, homemade tzaziki (cucumbers from our own garden!), souvlaki and flaming cheese. This is undoubtedly why I chose lunchtime to accidentally consume four slices of whole wheat bread, rendering me totally unfit to eat any dinner at all, let alone greet our guest. There was a lot of puking in a very short period of time.
In my defense, the bread was labelled "Sunflower Rice bread", cost $7 for a small dense loaf that tasted like most commercial gluten-free bread (in other words, I was unimpressed) and was on a shelf with a price tag indicating "gluten free". Turns out someone had moved it into the wrong slot and it was actually some kind of uber healthy organic loaf. Let's just say that it's been determined that a) I am still celiac and b) I will never neglect to read the ingredients list again.
I did manage to make it downstairs in time to see the flaming cheese (and Xander's reaction to said cheese).
We went to the cottage at Bondi Village with the whole J family again, except Uncle Mark (who stayed in China) and Auntie Yukiko (who had to work!)
There was paddling. There was swimming. There was biking. There was playing of "pink ball" (ping pong). There was shuffleboard. There was teeter-tottering. There was lots of wildlife, other than the young savages that populated our abode. (Deer! Herons! Loons! A merlin!) The blue jays harassed the poor chipmunks and red squirrels constantly. We learned that Woody Woodpecker's distinctive laughter is actually based on the REAL call of a pileated woodpecker!
There were also chickens, as usual. We didn't gather eggs this year, but Elizabeth scattered food and actually managed to catch her own chickens to cuddle.
We went to Robinson's and climbed the Dorset Fire Tower. Mommy has a good head for heights but coming down STEEP stairs with overexcited preschooler made me think I might sort of understand the feelings of those of you that don't. Spectacular view though!
We went to Huntsville library for Sister Dorothy. Elizabeth got overexcited during the performance of the five frogs on the speckled log, somersaulted off her chair and thunked her head hard into the concrete. We went to Swiss Chalet because the "gluten-free friendly" restaurant we tried first had a sign letting us know that their gluten free menu was only for those making a "lifestyle choice" and not people who might get sick with the inevitable cross-contamination from their kitchen setup. Let's just say that I was displeased that they had advertised on celiac.com.
Nancy from Bondi let the kids have a little ride on Squeegee the pony. Last year Elizabeth wasn't too happy about even petting him, but this year she actually had a ride! She had a chance to go again week two but opted to just pat him. I wasn't sure if it was the lack of cousinly peer pressure or what, but she insisted that she was just feeling "wobbly" because she was "too tired".
We let her stay up until past ten o'clock several times, so it wasn't surprising that she got tired! One night we went stargazing and saw shooting stars. Another night a couple dozen of us were treated to a private wolf howl with Algonquin Park's chief naturalist (coincidentally on sabbatical). Elizabeth was deeply impressed. We walked in dead silence to a clearing in the woods. There was howling, and the wolf pack answered TWICE! It was really eerie and totally cool. The only drawback is that now Elizabeth likes to play wolf howl...
There were a lot of crafts, especially while all three cousins were together. Elizabeth was particularly thrilled by the glitter (not allowed at home). Strangely the adults were less thrilled by the resulting cleanup required. It's going to be a glitter-filled Christmas (We made the Christmas crackers!)
There was scavenger hunting and dinosaur bone excavation. There was sand castle building and many little girls covered from head to foot in sand (except Maria who insisted that her arms remain free!).
Elizabeth improved her "watermelon" (aka corn kernel) spitting technique. Last year she barely managed to dribble the seed from lip to ground. This year she spat it quite vigorously into the ground. By the second week she'd figured out that she needed to aim straight ahead and tripled her distance. Her record is 3'5". Mommy, Daddy and Elizabeth all came first in their age categories the second week!
Elizabeth had her first "official" dentist appointment on July 26th. She's been a few times with mom and dad, but this time she had her own time slot and everything.
Unfortunately the dentist moved unexpectedly (without letting us know), so the appointment got off to a rocky start when we couldn't find him! Then Elizabeth didn't have time to adjust to the idea that everything at the dentist was new and shiny and different.
Usually she's extremely cooperative about opening her mouth, but she was not at all excited this time. Eventually she let the dentist have a look and her teeth were pronounced in good shape.
We were happy to hear this. Cavities are largely preventable but nearly 1 in 4 children will still experience an average of 2.5 cavities between the ages of 6 and 11 (from the Canadian Health Measures Survey done by Health Canada). I find that shockingly high, although it seems quite accurate based on anecdotal evidence from the various children we know. In fact, Elizabeth has at least half a dozen friends who have had thousands of dollars of dental work by the age of six, including having so many cavities they had to be dealt with under general anesthetic, baby "root canals" and teeth pulled out altogether. I was surprised to learn that most of these parents did not allow their children to eat candy or drink pop - apparently the dentists felt the cavities were caused by parents being unaware that they needed to help their child brush and floss in combination with sticky sweet food (especially dried fruit) and too much juice.
So that's why Elizabeth gets to put up with her parents flossing and brushing for her, in addition to doing it by herself once first!
We had Maria for the day. Elizabeth and Maria spent a long, long time playing "store" in the playhouse. They exchanged money and "ceets" (receipts) very professionally.
Then Xander came to visit, right when the girls were inclined to be tired of "just" playing. They were very happy to "look after Xander"
Karen got the girls to pretend to be animals so we had a lot of galloping, slithering and heffalumping up and down the deck while Xander watched perplexedly.