We planted tomatoes, carrots, onions, beans (pole, green and yellow bush, green dwarf bush and lima), watermelon, pumpkin, potatoes, sweet potatoes and CORN this year in the garden.
I had basil, sage, rosemary, mint and jalapeņo peppers. There were gooseberries and red currants. Black currants and rhubarb.
So it is fair to say we were rather ambitious this year.
I waged a royal battle with the squirrels and chipmunks over the corn seed, but covering the entire thing in netting allowed the corn to grow tall enough for them to lose interest in digging it up. I think the racoons ate the last few tiny cobs that didn't ripen as some disappeared, but we did get about 10 cobs(!) They were poorly pollinated, a bit starchy to eat and a few were affected by smut (lol - that disease name still cracks me up). But I was not necessarily expecting actual corn as I know it is hard to grow in small quantities. The corn was so interesting to watch grow and we felt so triumphant about pulling them off our very own stalks that we considered this a roaring success. I may well try corn another time.
On the complete disaster front: I forgot to rotate my pumpkin crop (well, actually I didn't have room for it where I was planning to put it because the corn took up more space than expected.) and pumpkins got the blight. I wasn't too worried since we had the same problem last year, but it turns out that if your vines are affected by blight too early, all the baby pumpkins rot and fall off. Sob! The watermelon struggled next to the pumpkin too, but the real problem was that the chipmunks ate the baby watermelons as soon as they appeared. So no pumpkins or watermelons for us!
The carrots suffered from my decision not to thin them. Being lazy worked out for us last year, but I guess more plants grew this year so we had rather interesting shapes. They taste okay though. The variety we tried isn't quite as nice as last year's exquisite crop though. We're going to wait and see whether a frost will help.
The tomatoes were disappointing too. Too much rain and too cold meant they were pretty unhappy and didn't bear much fruit. It didn't help that Matthew was very keen to pick all the flowers and green tomatoes that he could reach. Luckily I still have a year's supply of canned tomatoes in the cupboard from last year.
We had an extremely prolific crop of beans though. The lima beans were amazing and even if you forgot to pick some and they dried on the vine it's not a big deal because then they are just dried lima beans that need extra soaking. I may have nearly destroyed my pot when I forgot one batch on the stove and turned them into charcoal pellets but the ones I didn't burn were lovely.
The potatoes were great as well, though I'm not sure if we'll get any sweet potatoes - an afterthought planted very late, they didn't get enough sun while their potato friends with a big head start were towering over them.
The rest of the garden pretty much behaved as expected. The kids very much enjoyed digging in the dirt and triumphantly bringing "their" spoils to show Daddy. Now I just have to figure out what I'm going to plant next year!
Uncle Dave and Auntie Karen celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary (woah - already?) so Elizabeth and Matthew got to have another cousinly sleepover. Isabelle and Xander are not quite as self sufficient as Erika and Maria, so they only stayed four nights instead of eleven! We are definitely making pretty good use of our new van...
Elizabeth was a good influence on Xander, whom we gather usually wakes up much too early. When he woke up before the sun, she told him to go back to bed until finally he did! It was nonetheless a learning experience to have so many small children all wanting to get up very early in the morning... I think the biggest difference between two and four (at least this particular four!) was the volume! Elizabeth and Xander invented a racing truck game that was deafening. Matthew didn't help by chasing everyone around pretending to be a scary bear that wanted to gobble you up! Apparently Karen noticed a distinct difference in Isabelle's playtime after the weekend - she said her pretend play became much more elaborate!
I was a little worried about getting all four kids to the bus stop on time all by myself (Brendan has a breakfast meeting Friday mornings). Luckily our tenant Mahnaz was available to help wrangle the babies. The bigger problem turned out to be picking Elizabeth up after school; I underestimated how much time it would take us to get to the stop and the kids would NOT be hurried when the bus pulled up to the curb half a block away. I thought that surely the driver saw me and would wait, but he wasn't looking for a mom with three other kids. I was absolutely horrified when the bus then left without dropping Elizabeth off. Cue total panic as we tried to figure out what to do, but luckily the driver just went around the block again in order to give us more time to show up!
While Xander was at preschool Friday morning the babies and I went to Isabelle's house. She was SO happy to see all her toys!
On Saturday I took the kids to the Dinosaur museum. We became a bit of an exhibit in our own right when two separate lots of tourists begged to take a photo of the "big kids" pushing the babies. While we were there, the museum opened up some dinosaur field jackets that were collected many decades ago. Elizabeth and Xander were lucky enough to get to help separate plaster from bone! Xander didn't quite understand the point of the safety equipment... Elizabeth would have spent a lot more time helping, but Matthew and Isabelle were restless enough that we had to head outside to let off some steam. The kids reminded me of puppies, wrestling with each other and rolling all over the grass.
Sunday Auntie Janice came home from Africa! Matthew was very excited to see Auntie Janice, and not just because it meant he got to help with loads of laundry... Isabelle and Matthew spent a lot of time in her suitcase "helping" unpack. Elizabeth would have been excited except that she had grievously wounded herself about three minutes prior to her arrival by face-planting on her truck and was all wrapped up with ice and watching a consolation movie with Xander. Sigh...
On Monday I took the little kids to French class, where there was much playing with sand, garbage trucks and some very cool dinosaur books. Back home, we built couch cushion forts and did the milk/food colouring/soap science experiment. Then Mommy and Daddy showed up again to have supper and take away the cousins. We talked them into trying out the fancy new washing machines. Have I mentioned Matthew is obsessed with doing laundry these days? It goes around and around and around... Matthew was very happy to get his room back, which surprised us since he barely spends any time in his own bed!
Our neighbours highly recommended the OAC for swimming lessons, so we decided to try them out. Elizabeth took Preschool A/1 from Dovercourt or Sea Turtles (City of Ottawa Red Cross program) four times and it was looking like Preschool B/2 was going to take even longer. She was despondent that her best friend can actually swim ("even though I'M OLDER!")
Five private lessons at the OAC later, not only do I not have to deal with chlorine every week since it's a salt water pool, but Elizabeth's almost done Swim Kids 1.
Matthew's doing lessons too because it's actually cheaper than the outrageous "drop-in" fees for us to just hang out in the pool during the lesson and we thought easier than keeping him out. It's interesting because they don't bother with toys, games or songs. The pool is cold. The location is inconvenient for us. The fees are rather expensive. But it is working and the kids are loving it. Go figure. And at least there is a hot tub for me to warm up in afterwards ;)
We're back in the routine of skating. It only took about forty minutes for Elizabeth to shake the awkward haven't been on skates all summer feeling and start zipping around the ice. She completed kinderglider 4 last time. We figure she's got all the kinderglider 5 skills down cold, except maybe the t-push. Not quite sure what she'll be working on during the second half of the class but she's signed up for a more advanced class in the winter picked by friend Adi.
We tried out low ratio classes for the preseason and fall sessions. Unfortunately the only other kid in her class is not nearly at the same level she is (couldn't glide!), but after we complained the head coach took her under his wing a bit. She's still very right footed, but boy is she getting fast. Her stops are getting pretty amazing - Brendan reckons she's better at stopping than he is now.
Skating is definitely one of Elizabeth's favourite parts of the week. Matthew is less keen, mostly because he desperately wants to skate too. He pats his head constantly (I want a helmet too!) and points on the ice. Playing with Daddy is an okay substitute, even if he insists on holding him instead of letting him explore unfettered. Strangely, we think toddlers running around the concrete arena isn't a great idea...
Here be our official 18 month and 5 and a half picture with a bear portraits.
That stick Matthew has? That's part of my curtain rod that he dismantled.