I took Matthew, Isabelle and Xander to the aviation museum to pick the girls up from their first day of aviation camp (and give Auntie Karen some time to prepare for Dave's party that night!)
I was pleased to be able to use the van to capacity - six kids, Auntie Janice and me! The kids were LOUD.
The party was everything a birthday party should be. Lasagna, chocolate confetti, candles and cake!
Auntie Janice is heading out to Angola to surprise my folks pretty soon. She wanted to cut her hair before going in order to need less shampoo while she's travelling. So we decided it was time for another dramatic hair chopping (the last time was May 2010!). I contemplated allowing Elizabeth to join us (in addition to growing out her bangs to match Adi, she would DEARLY love to match hair length), but reluctantly concluded that in order to get the required length we would no longer be able to do a ponytail. This would be far too traumatic for her Daddy...
Matthew's ponytails on the other hand seem to make his scissor hand twitchy... (What? He idolizes his sister and he likes the shiny. Of course he demands ponytails and hair clips! At least for about five seconds and then he pulls them out...)
You may notice a new face - Mahnaz is our current tenant. In addition to fantastic cooking skills, she cuts hair!
Yesterday, it was super windy while we were at Uncle Ryan's cottage and Elizabeth was quite desperate to fly her kite. By the time we got back to the cottage there was hardly any wind. There was some consternation - it's almost the last day and Elizabeth hadn't had a chance to fly her kite yet! This always happens. We bring practically our whole house with us and then it's a scramble in the last couple of days while we try to use all the things we didn't need in order to justify having brought it... Ahem. Anyway, we averted the crisis by suggesting she try flying it behind her bike. It totally worked! So much fun...
Last day at the cottage is always a scramble. The kids want one more time at the beach - and no cold wind or weather was going to stand in their way. One last canoe. One last paddle boat. One last visit to the chickens. We stopped at Henrietta's to grab lunch and drove all the way home.
We were very excited to see that things have been growing in the garden while we were away. The tomatoes obligingly waited to start ripening now. And we got our first corn on the cob! It's not fully pollinated, but it's corn! In the city!!!
My cousins own a cottage very close to Bondi, so we organized a day trip to go visit Ryan.
It was pretty windy but the water was gorgeous and it was pretty sunny so the kids wanted to go swimming. I got volunteered to swim too, though they were pretty much done by the time I got into my swimsuit! I swam out to the raft and back instead.
We brought lunch from Henrietta's and Wheat Free Delights (yum!). Elizabeth and Matthew and Ryan spent a significant amount of time "sleeping" up in the little nook. Elizabeth cried when we had to leave. It was a lovely day...
Thursdays are swimming to the point or Island day at Bondi. I was contemplating doing the swim with Elizabeth in her lifejacket and floater as she's made huge progress this week but it was frigid and rainy and I decided Elizabeth at least shouldn't be getting in the water today. So we went as a support canoe instead. Matthew was outraged to be left behind so after our swimmers made it back to the dock he got his own turn. In the pouring rain. I kept asking him whether he wasn't all done, but he was quite insistent on paddling all around the lake. Eventually Daddy had to pry him out of the canoe, dripping wet.
In the afternoon Mr Bear had his treasure stolen again this year but ten determined kids came out despite the rain on and off to help follow the clues and put together the map that pointed to the secret location under Nancy's deck (sneaky!). I did suggest they didn't *have* to swim out to grab the clue on the water, but Jenna came prepared and no one wanted to fuss with boats...
We learned that it takes exactly twenty hits to demolish a treasure box. We also learned that chocolate coins look awesome as they cascade out, but a good number will get pulverised in the process.
The kids wrote us amazing thank you notes afterwards. These kids are awesome.
After the treasure hunt we took the kids on a hike to Lookout Point. Elizabeth kept shushing us as she really wanted to see "animals". "Remember last year?" she kept saying "We saw a grasshopper!" She was disappointed not to see a heron again, but we DID see a fish doing gymnastics in his pond... I've never seen a fish do so many jumps in a row! It was still at it when we passed by on the way back, so Brendan took his picture. We also managed to locate a moth, many grasshoppers and one tiny little frog - I guess it was too cold for froggie friends as we normally get to see quite a few.
After our hike it was pony time. Matthew chased the chickens and actually caught a couple. He still wouldn't sit on Squeegee but he petted him with vim and vigour. Elizabeth and Sophie went to play ping pong while the other kids were riding pony.
It was probably just as well today was too cold to play on the beach or go swimming because I'm not sure when we would have had time! Instead we had some hot chocolate topped with marshmallows and whipped cream in front of a roaring fire.