My mom's side of the family was getting together for Christmas on the 30th, so we planned to stop in Toronto to see Muriel, Lauren and Donna and family and Uncle Ryan.
Brendan's mom came along with us and with seven people in the van for Amelia's longest car ride yet we were a little concerned that the kids might not be well behaved. But they made forts out of coats and pillows, did some colouring and generally did very well. Amelia slept and played all the way until about five minutes before we arrived, which was nice.
Matthew and Elizabeth were very happy to introduce Grandma Margaret to the joys of waiting anxiously for the cuckoo clock at Auntie Muriel's to come out so that Elizabeth can play her "cuckoo whistle" at the same time. Amelia seemed rather bemused.
As per tradition, we spent part of Boxing day playing games at Dave and Karen's house. The older four kids are actually old enough that they played a new board game by themselves while the adults tried out Munchkins (Woohoo!). We had enough fondue meat left over from Christmas Eve to justify having fondue again - reminding me that butcher shops seem to think we need about twice the amount of meat per person as compared to what we actually eat.
We admired various gifts (Uncle Dave is getting more and more serious about sous vide!) and the kids enjoyed playing with the new Apple TV. Brendan was amused that they all held the remote for the car game as it were a bicycle handlebar.
Xander's school has a program where families send in unwanted items during October and November. Then the youngest kids are paired with the oldest and they all go "shopping" for members of their immediate family with a list of names, ages and relationship to the shopper. All items cost fifty cents and then there is free gift wrapping. Xander got his sister a cute hello kitty stuffie, Uncle Dave got a "scary" movie (lol) and Karen received a gingerbread soap dispenser. He came home on the bus with his four gifts and Karen said he was SO PROUD. Such a good idea for a fundraiser!
After supper the kids all bathed (oldest two and youngest two in pairs; they have now been deemed too big to all fit together in the tub!) and I read them a story. Xander was very sad that cousins were going home instead of having a sleepover so he and Elizabeth had a little cuddle during the story (so cute!).
Auntie Janice came to hang out after work in time for supper. Unfortunately, the kids were eating applesauce and then of course dipping their forks back into the fondue pot and probably because she arrived part of the way through the meal we didn't think about this being unsafe for someone allergic to apples until it was too late. Cue her being super unwell and needing to take her epipen. The kids were concerned, but more jealous of getting to ride in the ambulance. Until Elizabeth remembered Matthew already had an ambulance ride and she got to sit in one. Then they were slightly mollified.
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!"
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.
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.