October 4, 2014
Brendan's party

We had the whole crew over to celebrate Brendan's birthday on the weekend. Lasagna, garlic bread, Caesar salad and homemade gluten free black raspberry forest cake. Of course the cake was too hot when I iced it as usual, so we had to get creative with chopsticks to hold it together...

Brendan wanted to go to Home Depot before the party and we were amused to discover it was fire safety awareness day or something. A real live fireman gave Elizabeth and Matthew fire chief hats. Matthew promptly threw his into the cart but Elizabeth would sleep in hers if she could.

6 photos / videos

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October 3, 2014
Happy Hearts!
Auntie Janice here.

In case you missed the backstory to Happy Hearts:
Our lovely next door neighbour Noëmie loves having fashion shows with her friends. Then they decided they would do one as a fundraiser for CHEO research, and they invited all their parents and neighbours. They raised 22$, and Noemie's mom asked around and arranged a meeting where she could drop off her proceeds herself. The researchers accepted the donation with a huge thank you, and a tour of the facilities to show Noemie all the ways her money was helping other children. "I'd like to do another fashion show" she proclaimed as the tour ended...

She went around to many children's clothing stores, asking for their help in donating clothes. Almost every single one agreed. Then other stores agreed to donate silent auction items. Catherine (Noemie's mom) quickly did some hasty math of how many outfits had been donated, and thus how many parents would be coming for sure. Hmm... Not going to fit in the backyard. Thankfully the Canada Aviation and Space Museum stepped up and donated their huge rental space. Many other sponsors helped with everything from tablecloths and snacks to the very important stage, DJ, and photographer!

When I arrived at the museum, there was a huge number of wonderful volunteers taking tickets, directing me to the seats, and pointing out the silent auction items. I happily signed up for quite a few, and was later delighted when I won at least four of them. Elizabeth had been there since much earlier, practicing for her debut modelling career (link to previous post). There was just enough time to check the tables, and then to sit down before the main event.

The show itself was delightful. Each store was announced, and then the outfits were modelled two by two down the catwalk. Some of the models were clearly more comfortable with the crowd- but all were adorable! The sass and spunk of one set of models was occasionally followed by the very shy little models who couldn't quite figure out where they were supposed to be going. Elizabeth hit somewhere in the middle. She didn't look nervous, but didn't smile, and despite all our best efforts to catch her attention... We barely had time to get a picture! Turns out she was distracted by her partner who wasn't doing something quite right, but anyways it looked fabulous nonetheless. The last few outfit "poses" were very exciting- a number of models decided to show off their gymnastics skills, with all the audience holding their breath. It was quite a thrill, but thankfully none of the kids needed the services of the myriad of CHEO specialists that were sitting in the audience.

Then there was the silent auction completion, a final dance party as they tallied the results... And by the next morning we had heard the final numbers: over $13000 in funds raised for CHEO.

HURRAH! Happy Hearts was a resounding success, and while Noemie's parents would prefer she run a lemonade stand next year... I can't help but think of the Ryan's Well foundation and the power that children in our communities have to change the world. I for one look forward to attending the next Happy Hearts Fundraiser! ... or the lemonade stand, for that matter. Who doesn't love lemonade?

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October 2, 2014
Daddy's birthday

Birthdays aren't birthdays without cake and candles, so we had lots of them for Daddy to blow out, including at breakfast! The kids helped blow them out. I cheated by buying a gluten-free store bought chocolate cake, partly because Loblaws only just started carrying such a thing and the concept was so exciting that we had to find out if they are any good (verdict? yes)

Before bed we helped Elizabeth prep for her big day tomorrow - it's the fashion show! She wanted Jamberry nails and curly hair. Matthew was fascinated by the straw curls and insisted on having some in his hair too but I took them out well before they had any lasting effect because he couldn't sleep with them in. Daddy was relieved, but I kind of wish we had the pictures for Matthew's wedding day...

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September 29, 2014
The end of September

A series of random photos - mostly on the way to or from the bus stop.

Notable: Elizabeth decorated her own banana and picked out clothes for Matthew (he's starting to veto some choices though, so they both go to the other room and then we hear "what about this one?" "no" "this one has your favourite bear..." "no" "You have to pick ONE of them Matthew" "no". But eventually they figure it out...)

Matthew has inherited Elizabeth's old backpack and insists on wearing it. He copies her at every opportunity.

The rock Elizabeth is holding is a piece of pumice she traded some bugs for at the museum of Nature. She LOVES that she can hold a piece of volcano.

Fall has begun - Elizabeth and Matthew are bringing leaves to the bus stop with them so they can play.

Elizabeth is enjoying school more now, though she still is happier on weekends. She's "used" to her teachers now. Frequent play dates with her friend have helped a lot.

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September 25, 2014

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!

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