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December 25, 2015

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me... kids who rip and dump stuff everywhere in two seconds flat.  Yikes!  Matthew picked up his stocking turned it upside down and shook it until it was empty.  It was terrifying and a good reminder for next year not to put anything fragile in there.  They also did not really pause to even breathe while opening presents.  Our house was clean and tidy in the morning before everyone got up and by the end of the day you could have sworn the place had been ransacked.  Aside from these minor details it was a delightful day filled with as our Bible verse of the week recently reminded us: "good news of great joy for all the people".

It was so unseasonably warm for Ottawa (Christmas eve was 18C!!!) that Elizabeth and Matthew went outside to get fresh chives from our garden in their bare feet! Pretty amazing that we still HAD fresh chives, although admittedly these were the ones from Grandma's more sheltered balcony and therefore had missed the October frosts that killed the rest of my garden.

Elizabeth and I went for a bike ride together to the arboretum. Matthew, Elizabeth and I went for another short walk / tricycle / bike after Matthew's nap. Matthew insisted on bringing all the new stuffies for the ride. And baby Jesus. As one does.

Janice carved the bird for her first time after the boys started being all "not it!"


December 24, 2015

Brendan and I spent Christmas eve madly running around doing workish stuff followed by last minute Christmas prep stuff (aka buy fondue meat and FIND MATCHING PJs because somehow we misplaced the six month size of the moose pjs that Matthew and Elizabeth already have). Matching PJs is a thing but this year they were insanely hard to find for some reason. Elizabeth desperately wants footies but they only had size 6s (probably too small) or size 10 (definitely too big) left. I might have tried the 6s except they were final sale and they didn't have a matching infant size. So that was quite unnecessarily stressful given that I'd been looking for PJs since September. Auntie Janice took the big kids off to the Aviation museum (and the candy store!) on an adventure so we didn't have to worry about them which was appreciated by all.


Matthew wanted to be an angel just like Dee-Dee but he wasn't terribly happy about the "tickly" tinsel on his head. He decided maybe he'd rather be a shepherd. But then he didn't want to be a shepherd. So I suggested he be both and he brightened up considerably. Then he got to carry baby Jesus down the aisle to the crèche after Anabel heard him cooing over the baby and wanting to cuddle it. Matthew was actually pretty cute about it, although I think he was a little disappointed it wasn't a REAL baby. "Me got a REAL baby", he said. Amelia slept through most of the service and although I attempted to give her a halo Matthew didn't want to share, opting instead to shred little pieces all over the pew. (Of course) But although it was perhaps not the smoothest pageant ever my kids quite enjoyed themselves and proved that they were listening to the story over Christmas week so that probably counts as a success! And the music was lovely, thanks to Godmother Rachel who organized it all this year.


After church Grandma, Auntie Janice and our family gathered together for cheese and Chinese fondue, which was great fun. The kids got to bed very, very late.




December 23, 2015

With our annual raclette dinner coming up we duly headed over to the international house of cheese to pickup our insanely large hunk of cheese.  While there we asked if they happened to recall which of the now 5 types of cheese we had happened to select last year.  Of course they didn't but knowing that we had spent most of our life savings there they kindly offered a discount on this year's (Swiss) version.  Have we mentioned how much we love the international house of cheese before?

The actual day arrived and aside from some minor confusion over which outlets Dave had used before for the fancy machine everything went reasonably smoothly.  The kids more or less behaved and even ate some of the cheese.  Heather fed a baby for the first time and we nearly popped Amelia into her arms at the same time for a photo but decided to spare her.  The kids ate at a makeshift kids table while the adults lounged and attempted to keep order while ingesting large quantities of yummy food.  Mmm.  Now it is starting to feel like Christmas time.


December 21, 2015

When I look at these pictures, I remember how much Elizabeth loves to climb trees and hang upside down from things. Matthew has gotten super into puzzles and games. He's not totally into following the instructions on games. Usually he makes up his own.

Matthew stopped riding his balance bike willingly this fall, declaring it "for babies". The tricycle is more grownup because it has pedals. But he'd rather have Maria's old bike, never mind that he's not quite tall enough.

He's also a big fan of butter. I don't think I mentioned he chowed down on half a cup of butter at the cottage but that time where he dragged a dining room chair into the kitchen in order to be able to reach the butter out of the fridge so that he could fetch his own butter "for a yiddle 'nack Mommy" is definitely going to become family lore.

Did I already blog about the time that Matthew sighed "Oh Mommy, you are my friend"? Daddy asked "Am I your friend too?" Matthew very indignantly replied: "Oh no Daddy, you're not my friend - you're my OWNER!" I was highly, highly amused. It's slightly more understandable when you know that my kids like to play a game they've dubbed "Meow Meow and owner", which has one person playing the part of the cat and the other person bossing the cat around. The cat is the most desirable character, which suits me fine as I am not really into crawling around, even for my adorable offspring. Amelia usually gets to play the part of the baby.

In addition to Meow Meow and baby, dressing up is a BIG thing. Elizabeth likes to be animals, and Elsa. Matthew likes to be spiderman, and Elsa. He's not allowed to wear Elizabeth's Elsa dress though, so he uses the other princess dress and whirls around singing "Let it go".

Both older kids drive us crazy by tying things to other things. At least they are learning some knots? Also annoying is their bad habit of sucking on clothing, certain stuffies and ropes. I suppose it is better than nail biting, but I was less than impressed when Matthew basically chewed the nose off his poor little kitty. Matthew has endless faith in our ability to fix the things he inadvertently destroys. This is not always well-placed.

Lest the reader be tempted to think our children never succumb to sibling rivalry... The time change was quite hard on Elizabeth in particular (possibly she was fighting the terrible virus that felled much of the rest of the family). In any case much of November was punctuated by temper tantrums, screaming fits and annoying each other (not to mention their parents!). "I'm never talking to you again." "Yes you are" "No I'm not" 

One memorable evening they were cuddled up nicely in Matthew's bed. Elizabeth was reading him his bedtime story. It was the sort of idyllic scene a parent dreams about. Then she suddenly pinched him hard on the cheek, hard enough to leave a bruise for a few days. That was the end of her getting to read. Cue spectacular meltdown "If you don't let me practice reading even if I'm misbehaving I'll NEVER be a good reader." After a few minutes of melodramatic sobbing didn't have the desired effect. "Fine. I'll read another book so loud that Matthew can't hear you finish the story." Me: "Um. No." So she chucked the book at me. Inevitably that resulted in being sent to bed without seeing the rest of the pictures. "You would NEVER get a job at the library, mom!"

Thankfully the tantrums seem to have more or less subsided about as abruptly as they began.


December 19, 2015

Somehow we managed to get to 20 years of gingerbread without really realizing it.  Having started as a small get-together with a few friends back in high school and progressing to an all time high of sixty something people last year there has been a lot of change over the years and I'm not just talking about the quantities of candy consumed. This year the final tally was a quiet 41.  Some of the original group still make it out (looking at you John) and people still make houses (sometimes).  The big shift now is that we are starting to watch our kids make stuff instead of making stuff for them.  Elizabeth surprised us by quite competently and calmly working away on a house of her own (using pieces she coopted from others...) creation for a couple of hours with very little input or assistance from her parents. Shout out to various encouraging adults definitely due here (looking especially at Heather, Renée, Simon and Hayley here!)  Most of the younger kids have been sticking to making flat cookies and then covering them in copious quantities of candy.  While fun this doesn't make for epic creations that rival those of the early years.  With several of the kids moving into three dimensional realm we are hopeful that this will swing back the other way.  This year we also had a number of regulars who for various reasons couldn't make it and a whole pile of neighbours (some new and many of whom we are only just starting to really get to know) who could make it.  It was really nice that a lot of the people knew each other, other than by virtue of seeing each other every year at gingerbread.

It was also the first year that Elizabeth had friends that came without any supervising adults. Adi, Elizabeth and Mila all decorated elephants, designed courtesy of Aunt Heather. There was a moment of wildness when I wondered what we had done but the kids settled down and after that they played more or less nicely. The house was still standing in the end; always a mark of success. Besides, it turns out that even 41 people including four infants and hordes of children six and under still don't make as much of a mess as 6 teenagers did when making gingerbread unsupervised for the very first time. The real mystery is why my mother let us use her kitchen again the following year!

Matthew enjoyed himself very much. He apparently literally climbed on the table, and then used the time honoured toddler decorating technique as follows: Choose candy after taste testing to be sure it is good. Glue candy to a cookie. Remove candy from cookie and pop into mouth. Repeat.

I was surprised there weren't more cookies with a Star Wars theme, but John's tie fighter was awfully cute. Just needed a wookie... Maybe a few baby ewoks... But then I think Wookies and Ewoks would make a positive addition to any movie (don't tell me about the new Star Wars though; haven't seen it yet!) My favourite creation this year was probably Auntie Janice's chocolate covered owl. Tinfoil core, marmalade ears, chocolate paint... What's not to love? A close second was Catherine's Rubik's cube. Her son's obsession with that piece of plastic is directly responsible for Elizabeth's newfound interest! I was also amused when Noemie's creation didn't work so she rescued it by adding much candy and calling it modern art.

Oh and thing we are holding is my chocolate covered gingerbread baby. And yes the baby is doing what you think she is doing...  After nearly seven months of cleaning spit up we decided that this needed to be properly immortalized.


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